Thursday, 31 July 2014

Looks Before Books

The news came out yesterday that Chapters, one of the most beloved stores in downtown Montreal, will be closed and replaced with a Victoria's Secret lingerie superstore.  Public reaction was immediate and condemning.

Chapters takes up four floors of a heritage limestone building and has a beautifully carved wood staircase going up the center.  The store has been there for almost 20 years, and was a Coles bookstore for many years before that. Both my husband and I have spent uncounted hours perusing the titles there.  The place is a refuge for university students and other book-lovers, and the sheer ambiance has always made it conducive for purchases.  Not to mention it's on a prime corner for watching the annual Santa Claus parade, during which the store is inundated by people seeking hot drinks at its second-floor cafĂ©.

Some people have said that the time of the brick-and-mortar store is ending with the rise of Amazon and other online order companies.  There is already another bookstore several blocks away that's run by the parent company Indigo.  However the Indigo store isn't as large, half of its second floor showcases trendy gifts instead of books, and the ambiance just isn't there, except perhaps for a neat spiral staircase in the center.  Plus Indigo doesn't have nearly as many English titles as Chapters does.

Personally I think this is partly a power grab.  Victoria's Secret owns La Senza, of which there are already two stores downtown within a few blocks of each other, one being across the street from Chapters.  V.S. already tried to snag the location of the HMV flagship store which has also been at its current spot for many years, but reports say "that lease was not available".

There are quite a few empty retail spaces in downtown Montreal right now.  Why not use one of those instead of forcing out a long-term tenant and well-loved place?  I, for one, will never again shop at L-Brands, Victoria's Secret, Bath and Body Works, La Senza, or any other subsidiaries.

Besides, L-Brands has been known to employ sweatshop labour in Asia: another reason to boycott them. It's truly sad that the world is still going the way of appearances before intelligence.


  1. Sorry your favorite bookstore is shutting down. That does sound sad. :-( :-( The Dartmouth Bookstore used to be SO great - I remember even in Houston, my Spanish professor knew it. Then it was closed, or turned into nothing & now I think it's a Barnes & Noble. Anyway,

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