Toronto's Pages bookstore, one of my favorites in the world, is set to close after a rent-hike left it unable to remain in its 30 year Queen Street location. I worked at Bakka, the science fiction bookstore, when it was just a few doors down from Pages (which has a phenomenal periodicals and underground, design, art, and culture book sections, as well as some of the friendliest, most knowledgeable staff you could hope to meet), and I remember when we lost our lease after a rent hike. The store eventually landed back on Queen Street after being acquired by a new owner, but it was touch and go for years. Apparently Pages can't find anywhere else to go and will be shuttering. I'm gutted — Pages was always one of the highlights of my trips back home to Toronto.
"Landlords seem to be recession-proof at this point," he says. "They're just keeping their prices up."
Currently, Glassman figures he's getting a good deal at $235,000 a year. But landlord Yoram Birenzweig, VP of Pinedale Properties, says the true market value at 256 Queen West is $100 a square foot – which my calculator tells me is $400,000 a year.
That's not what he's demanding Glassman pay, but even if they split the difference, it's all too much for Pages.
Glassman keeps stressing his relationship with Birenzweig is genial and that he's not getting screwed over.
"It's life," he says. "He appreciates what we're doing, [but] for him, if you can, you should make more money," he says.
The article goes on to mention that another great Toronto bookstore, This Ain't the Rosedale Library, rescued itself by moving to Kensington Market from Church Street. I've been to the new location and it's fantastic — a great store for a great neighborhood. Visitors to Toronto, take note.
(Image: Matthew Kim)