My thanks to Flickr’s Vik Pahwa for sharing this beautiful photo of the now-defunct Chapters bookstore at Runnymede.
(The file is viewable at his Flickr page here.)
Located at 2225 Bloor Street West in the historic Runnymede Theatre, since the Chapters on the southwest corner where Runnymede Road meets Bloor Street West opened in 1998 it was something of a neighbourhood centre. This is ironic since, as noted at the end of January by Postmedia’s Marc Weisblott, Chapters was originally unwelcome here.More than 1,500 locals signed a petition demanding that the 1927 site of the Runnymede Theatre — which movie chain Famous Players gave up on in 1997 — not be leased to a bookselling monolith.
Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman and his eventual successor, Bloor West Village city councillor David Miller, both expressed displeasure with the deal.
But the Ontario Municipal Board upheld a decision to rezone it for retail with the promise of renovations and restorations of the art deco theatre, which ultimately cost Chapters about $5-million in 1999.
Indigo initially put the Runnymede store up for sale after the consolidation in 2001, although it ended up intact for more than a decade — even if cash flow increasingly depended upon a Starbucks (which became popular enough to move on its own across the street) and a growing inventory of things that were not books.
Yet when the announcement of its closing was made in November, it was reported that the neighbours developed a fondness for the once-damned bookstore, thanks in part to the preservation.
Parents lamented the fact that their children grew up in a bookstore that would soon disappear — as it is more difficult for them to find entertaining diversions in a Shoppers Drug Mart.
The Toronto Star's Francine Kopun wrote about an unusual town hall meeting held at the store by Heather Reisman, head of Indigo (owner of the Chapters stores, too).Indigo chief executive officer Heather Reisman fielded mostly friendly questions from an audience of about 300 gathered Wednesday night at the Chapters Runnymede bookstore, slated to close in 11 days.
“For many years we have operated this store and lost money,” said Reisman, by way of explaining why, after investing a fortune to renovate the historic theatre building and seeing it become a meeting place for families and friends and school groups, the store is closing. A Shoppers Drug Mart is scheduled to open in the space in the summer.
“With marginal stores there always comes a point where you can’t do it anymore,” said Reisman.
“We have the same romantic attachment to the space,” she said. “Maybe eight months ago we should have had this meeting … It would have been nice to turn it into a club.”
“We want to be here. We want to be in this community. We’re looking for a place,” said Reisman, whose remarks were punctuated by warm applause from the audience.
Indigo was unable to renew its lease on the 22,000-square-foot location because the rent rose beyond what the store could support, Reisman said.
She pointed out that many customers browse in-store, only to go home to purchase the items they want online at the cheapest possible price. She said Indigo sells books online at cost while other retailers do so below cost to drive sales of other products.
The store’s last day was on the 16th.
I can verify the store’s strong rating on Yelp. On the few occasions I visited the store, I quite liked it.
Ummm just discovered this guy yesterday and can’t stop listening to this mixtape. Who is he and why did I just find out about him. Too dope! #newshit #partynextdoor seriously ppl check out this mixtape!! #toronto #goodmusic #wow #onrepeat