January 21, 2015
Vancouver’s flagship Chapters store to close, with plans to reopen
by Nick Davies
In the face of increasing rents for retail space, the flagship location of a major Canadian book chain has announced that it will shut down as of this summer. Mike Hager reports for the Globe and Mail that Chapters—part of Indigo Books & Music, the country’s largest bookstore chain—plans to return in a new spot near the soon-to-be-defunct Robson Street store soon.
With major retailers Target and Sony recently announcing that they would close down all their Canadian locations, the loss of a prominent bookstore has caused some alarm. James Smerdon, a retail analyst with Colliers International, tells the Globe and Mail that while this might look like a sign of economic decline, “I think that it couldn’t be further from the truth, in that when we see what’s going to backfill into that space—some of the best retail space in Canada—it’s going to be really encouraging.”
Apparently, that includes a new location for sporting goods chain FGL Sports. Also coming to the area soon—across the street from Chapters—is a new Nordstrom, which is contributing to the spike in rents in the Robson Street district. Retail consultant Raymond Shoolman says, “Everyone’s clamouring to be as close to Nordstrom’s as possible… Retail’s all about traffic, it’s all about people in the area, and the closer you are to a flagship like Nordstrom’s everyone wants to be close so they can draw that traffic and compete.”
Heather Reisman, the CEO of Indigo, said in a statement to the press that their landlord’s increase in rent would make the Chapters store unprofitable, and that while they look for a new location, they’ll make some of their stock available at another location in Vancouver—specifically, their dolls. Chapters has a “speciality boutique” inside the store that’s apparently one of only two places in Canada to buy American Girl dolls, which Smerdon attributes to booksellers becoming more like “cultural department stores,” where you can buy dolls for $100 (closer to $83 in US dollars, which is still nuts), than actual bookstores.
Indigo hasn’t yet commented as to whether the shuttering of the Robson Street store will lead to layoffs.
Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.