Chapters' closure could spur comeback for indie shops

At least one small-press publisher in Montreal sees Chapters' downtown closure as a ripe opportunity for small, independent bookstores to make a comeback.

Simon Dardick of Véhicule Press says closure of English-language bookstore could help out smaller vendors

The Chapters at the corner of Stanley and Ste-Catherine streets will close soon, to be replaced by a giant Victoria's Secret store. (Google Maps)

The news that the Chapters in the heart of downtown Montreal will close to make way for a Victoria’s Secret may have some lamenting the death of bookstores.

However, at least one small-press publisher in Montreal sees it as a ripe opportunity for small, independent bookstores to make a comeback.

Simon Dardick of Montreal’s Véhicule Press told CBC Daybreak on Thursday that when big-box stores like Chapters moved into the market in the mid-1990s, many small bookstores felt threatened.

Some closed, and others struggled.

The closing of the downtown Montreal Chapters is a sign of the times, Dardick said.

With American book retailers like Borders and Barnes and Noble either going out of business or struggling to compete with the online marketplace, he said the market could become more favourable for smaller businesses and even small chains.

“More people than ever are reading,” Dardick said.

“There’s some room for optimism,” he continued. “I think this is maybe an opportunity for independents to come back.”

Chapters plans for the future

Drew McGowen, vice-president of real estate for Chapters’ parent company Indigo Books and Music, said customers shouldn’t be too put out considering there are only three blocks separating Chapters from Indigo’s downtown location.

He said consolidating the two stores only made sense.

“Right now we have over 60,000 square feet of books, and in the downtown of any metropolis, that’s hard to make work,” McGowen said.

He said the Indigo store in the Montreal Trust building would expand its English book section, along with its lifestyle and children’s sections.

Chapters’ Montreal closure is no surprise to the parent company, who have been meeting increased online competition with a wider array of offerings and a competitive online store.

“We’re in transition but we’re doing an awful lot in the stores to accommodate that transition. Can you just be a bookstore only and be a bookstore wholly? I don’t think so,” McGowen said.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.