Why Bookstores live or die
Munro has since bought the building, which Walker described as an astute move that has provided various options for managing its future.
Bookstores almost always fail not because of e-books, but because of rent increases. This is true of a lot of interesting, marginal businesses, especially in cities with housing bubbles (and Victoria is not cheap.) Prices go out of line with income, rents follow, and interesting stores which need low rent die. So you wind up with a whole bunch of chain stores or boutiques operations selling overpriced goods and services who can make the rent.
I shopped at Munro’s many times over the years, as an aside, since my parents lived in Victoria during their retirement, and my grandmother in hers. A great bookstore, with a good selection, knowledgeable and friendly staff.
But all those things aren’t enough when the rent goes up, and rent is set, in effect, by the value of the lot of land if turned into overpriced condos.
In general bubbles are bad for everyone who isn’t in on the bubble. If you are winning, they’re great, but the people who don’t participate are screwed.
And bookstores are, somehow, never participants.
Drive enough similar business out, because they can’t make the rent, and soon the great neighbourhood you moved into isn’t, it’s an overpriced condo hell of glass and concrete and soulless chain stores.
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