Why I Loved Toronto
World’s Biggest Bookstore
In its final days the World’s Biggest Bookstore really did look like the world’s biggest bookstore. The empty shelves and rooms really made the place seem huge. It’s sad that a place has to be empty for you to appreciate its size. It’s like when the Sears at Toronto Eaton Centre closed. I knew it was a huge store, but when all was gone it was truly massive.
Well my friends another Toronto landmark has said goodbye and another unnecessarily, somewhat tacky, but loveable big sign will be taken down.
Let’s look back at my original post on the bookstore.
The final chapter of a book can vary and can set you up for a sad, happy, bittersweet or cliffhanger ending. The Great Gatsby ended sadly, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was somewhat happy and bittersweet, The Hunger Games left you with a cliffhanger and Great Expectations – well it depends on what you accept as the ending. Well now the World’s Biggest Bookstore just off of Yonge Street near Dundas, will enter its final chapter next year as it is set to close at the end in 2014. Now the ending of this Toronto icon, which has sat on Edward Street for since the 80’s, will most likely not be a happy ending, but a sad cliffhanger like ending. It will be sad simply because the icon retail store will be closing and a cliffhanger in terms of what will take the bookstores place.
The red and white exterior is not attractive at all, it hardly has any character and if it wasn’t for the big sign that says World’s Biggest Bookstore I would mistake the windowless store, a strip club or adult novelty shop. However, I don’t love the exterior and that’s why I didn’t entitle the post The Exterior of The World’s Biggest Bookstore, rather I love the fact that it has almost every subject and most likely any book you’re looking for – I mean a bookstore with 4,000 different cookbooks is awesome already and that is what makes this store so special. One Christmas my grandmother wanted this specific DVD about the Incas and I looked everywhere and found out the only place in Toronto that had it was the World’s Biggest Bookstore.
The location was once a bowling alley until Jack Cole, the former owner of Coles Bookstore, bought the property in the 80’s, you can still see imprints of the Coles sign on the exterior. Now the World’s Biggest Bookstore according to the Guinness Book of World Records is not the biggest bookstore anymore. Today that title goes to a Barnes and Noble in New York City. However the argument to why it retains the name is simple. The Barnes and Noble has more floor space (154,000 square feet compared to 64,000 square foot Edward Street Store) where as the World’s Biggest Bookstore has more titles. I’ll go with the latter for my definition of big! Remember, it’s not size that matters its amount.
The stores lease will not be renewed simply because of the rent. Rumour has it that negotiations to reduce the $1.5 million a year rent to something lower has failed.
The question – and cliffhanger – is what will occupy the space after? The National Post suggests a big box retailer, but I personally think it’s too detached from Yonge Street to succeed and unlike the Canadian Tire/ Mark’s or Best Buy this location doesn’t have the luxury of being attached to TEC. However, the big box store suggestion has led to rumours of a possible WalMart or Home Depot. The Toronto Star is reporting a 78 storey condominium/ retail complex after rumours a developer has offered $38 Million for the property. Another thing that could go there is the landmark killer Ryerson (no offense, I mean thank you for saving Maple Leaf Gardens, but I’m still mad about the Sam The Record Man sign). By no means is it an attractive building, but the name and what is inside that building is a staple to the city. It represents the downtown core just as much as the Toronto Eaton Centre.
So if the bookstore will close sometime in 2014 and I will definitely be there. So the World’s Biggest Bookstore for the next year you will be a reason Why I Love Toronto, but come closing time you will be added to the Why I Loved Toronto list.
That is Why I Love Toronto.