When I was 12, my family and I visited Nicholas Hoare
, a cozy Front Street independent bookstore, after enjoying a meal at Hot House Café. As an avid bookworm, this emporium of reading reeled me in quickly, and I was soon wandering off from my parents and brother to run my fingers along the spines of fantasy books, my current fascination at that age.
My brother, not the most voracious reader, ended up dozing on one of Hoare’s iconic couches, a fireplace crackling him to sleep. My mom pored over gardening books; my dad wandered towards a surprisingly vast section on opera.
That memory of Nicholas Hoare remained with me for years. Whenever I thought of bookstores with character, I thought of Hoare. How many Front St. windows gave off this cottage-like atmosphere?
Now, with news
of Nicholas Hoare closing his flagship Toronto store April 1 due to the his retirement, book-lovers city-wide should be pouring out their tea in memory of a gem soon to be buried. Hoare’s selection might not have been as vast as Indigo-Chapters
, but their picks were curated with a book lover’s sensibility, whether you favour historical fiction or quirky graphic novels. Its staff were always helpful without being pushy, its couches were never removed in order to keep the buying public active and everything about Hoare screamed comfort. We don’t see that too often in bookstores.
Hoare’s demise after 42 years in business is all too familiar to Toronto readers. The Toronto Women’s Bookstore closed
after 39 years, and The Book Mark, founded in 1965, shut its doors
We also mourned the loss of Page’s, Mirvish Books and Atticus in the last four years, reminding us how precarious these indie outlets have become.
Just like how some of us treasure independent video retailers with the demise of Blockbuster and the rise of Netflix, so too should Toronto book-lovers rally around the few indie outlets available to book nerds looking for more than Dan Brown’s latest
. Seeing these bookstores fall is seeing a community lose a friend; and when indie outlets spring up, like Q Space
on College, a new mascot for the arts is born in that neighbourhood.
Hoare’s downtown store was always that mascot, and it’ll be sad to see it go the way of too many bookstores before it. But, I know I’ll be curling up with a book by its fireplace one last time before those lights dim for good.