After a meeting with staff Thursday evening, veteran independent Canadian bookseller Nicholas Hoare has confirmed that he is closing his retail outlets in Ottawa and Montreal, the former ending operations April 20, the latter July 31 when its lease expires.
Speaking Friday morning to an Ottawa radio station, Hoare said he will now concentrate his retail business in Toronto where he opened a still-functioning store in late 1990 and its landlord continues "watching over us benevolently every day." Not facing the padlock is a warehouse in Montreal which will supply the Toronto store as well as libraries and educational institutions.
Hoare cited rent increases as the primary impetus for the closures. He was particularly upset at his Ottawa landlord, the National Capital Commission, which informed him just before Christmas last year that it would be hiking his rent by 72 per cent, to roughly $12,000 a month from $7,000. Describing the increase as "totally unaffordable," Hoare told the radio station that he would not be looking for another location in Ottawa, but would instead dismantle the "hand-calibrated" interior fixtures of the current store, which opened in 1994, and ship them to his home in Nova Scotia.
Hoare opened his first bookstore in downtown Montreal in the late 1980s (it closed in 2006), opening another later in Westmount. All his stores – for the time being, they total three – are known for their site-specific design, comfortable, woody furnishings, high-quality merchandise and a pricing policy that unfashionably eschews the heavy discounting of other bricks-and-mortar retailers and online services like Amazon.ca.