February 20, 2013

End of an era: Canada’s beloved Nicholas Hoare bookstore to close


The famously elegant interior of Nicholas Hoare’s Toronto location, which is slated to close its doors this April

There’s some sad news from our friends to the north, as one of Canada’s indie bookstores announced this week that it would be closing down for good. Bookseller Nicholas Hoare has decided to shut down his eponymous bookstore in downtown Toronto, after closing his Montreal and Ottawa locations last year.

The closing of Hoare’s stores is somewhat unusual in that it’s not the typical sad story of a local business being run down by the big chains and monopolies. While the lease on the Toronto store is up for renewal, Hoare told the Toronto Star that “there’s nothing untoward about the closure of the Front St. E. shop and that it’s simply because he’s slowing down and soon will turn 70.”

On his blog, Hoare said that he’s “decided to mark his 70th birthday with an orderly run-off, the sale of his trademark fixtures, and a full-time move to his 350-acre property in Nova Scotia.”

I wouldn’t want to begrudge a man a well-earned retirement after an illustrious forty-two-year career, but it’s also hard not to wonder if Hoare could have found a way to keep the store open after he stepped down. It might not be easy — Torontoist points out that a big part of the shop’s appeal has been its idiosyncratic decor and selection of books, which it got from having Hoare at the helm. While it would be impossible to recreate that “fingerprint,” as Torontoist puts it, if he had chosen a trusted successor to run the store, the city wouldn’t have to lose a cherished indie bookstore. The president of the Association of Canadian Publishers, Carolyn Wood, lamented to the Star, “This is not good news at all,” adding that Nicholas Hoare represented the “cultural fabric of Canada.”

The store’s blog expressed gratitude for the customers who have made them a success, saying of the clientele, “Since first we opened, in 1971, they have been a constant joy; and, given the frequently eclectic choices of our founder, have not only vindicated his cherished policy of less is more – hand-picked and preferably face-out – but have thoroughly endorsed a manicured, high-end tradition that has flouted competitive trends for decades.”

The Toronto location will shut its doors as of April 1.




Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.