Last Friday, the giant downtown Toronto location of Chapters Indigo closed its doors. The store was best known for being attached to a multiplex and in decidedly non-21st century behavior, for attracting moviegoers who would entertain themselves before their shows by browsing the stacks. What a world.
This post is different from most of the bookstore tributes we offer here at Red Brick Reads because the bookstore in question is a big box retailer not a charming independent. I have no anecdotes about quick-witted bookshop staff at this location for you. In fact, I’ve always thought the Chapters Indigo at John and Richmond looked remarkably similar to the big bad Fox Books location that puts Meg Ryan’s poor Shop Around the Corner out of business in You’ve Got Mail. A sinister comparison.
Alas, in this era of deep discounts and next day delivery even the big box bookseller is in trouble. Chapters Indigo blames the closure on a massive rent increase at their lease renewal and promises to re-open some where else in the downtown core. I stopped in on their last day and took some very blurry photos of the very empty shelves.
Big box argument aside, the Chapters Indigo location was a city fixture and part of the pleasure of staying downtown to go to the movies. Sixteen years after Kathleen Kelly and Joe Fox charmed the pants off of us, it turns out that big box bookstores (maybe) aren’t the enemy.
We like businesses, big or small, that are in the business of getting books in hands in a way that is profitable and sustainable for the people who create the books.
So a tip of the hat to the folks at the John and Richmond location of Chapters Indigo from the readers here at Red Brick Reads.