Silver Snail Comics to leave Toronto's Queen West strip
Silver Snail Comics, one of the last remaining bookstores on Toronto’s busy Queen Street West, is leaving the area in search of counterculture-minded neighbours. The move is planned for early 2012.
The downtown comics bookstore has been a neighbourhood fixture for 35 years – about 29 in its current location, says manager George Zotti, who, along with partner Mark Gingras, is buying the business from Silver Snail owner Ron Van Leeuwen. Zotti says, “A few people do feel the nostalgic pains of us leaving Queen Street because the physical layout of the store has been here for a long, long time.”
The neighbourhood looks a lot different than when Zotti was a kid. He and his buddies would make the rounds to Silver Snail, competitor Dragon Lady, and Bakka Phoenix Bookstore, which moved away from Queen West two years ago. Today, Silver Snail is awkwardly located in a strip of retail fashion chains, its caped superhero displays out of place among the mannequins.
Zotti says the financial situation at Silver Snail is much different than with Pages Books and Magazines, another Queen West literary icon, which closed its doors in 2009 because of a massive rent hike. (Pages now operates as an online business, event series, and pop-up shop.) Van Leeuwen, who is retiring, owns the Silver Snail building, “but before he made the decision to sell, we were thinking of leaving Queen Street,” says Zotti.
Ideally, Silver Snail will relocate to the Annex, suggests Zotti. The student-heavy neighbourhood is home to old friend Bakka Phoenix, as well as The Beguiling, another comics shop that carries more alternative and small-press comics and graphic novels.
In addition to a new physical space, Zotti wants to improve the store’s online presence. “We kinda have the Toronto market covered,” he says laughing. “What we need is beyond that – to be the comics bookstore for Canada.”