[URBAN NOTE] “A new chapter for a beloved comic hideout”
The Globe and Mail‘s Mark Medley describes how Toronto comic store The Beguiling is managing its move from the soon-to-be-defunct Mirvish Village to a new College Street location.
For nearly two decades, visitors to the Beguiling, the charmingly overstocked comic-book emporium in the heart of Toronto’s Mirvish Village, would often be greeted by the sight of long-time owner Peter Birkemoe sitting in his “office” – perched behind his computer, at the first-floor cash register, surrounded by the ever-encroaching comics, artworks, ‘zines and other ephemera that have made it the most important comic-book store in Canada, and one of the greatest in the world.
“I’ve spent more of my life, hour-wise, awake, in this room, than I’ve spent in any [other] building,” Birkemoe said one morning earlier this month, as he took a break from preparing for the store’s last day, on Tuesday. He laughed, quietly, as if realizing this for the first time. “That will be sad.”
Countless obituaries were written about Honest Ed’s, the discount department store that anchored Mirvish Village, an eclectic block of art studios, restaurants and other small businesses, in the days before the brightly lit retailer shut its doors on Dec. 31, the result of a redevelopment that will significantly alter the southwest corner of Bathurst and Bloor in the coming years. The Beguiling, at least to its customers, is as vital an institution.
Since the store moved into its current home more than 20 years ago, it has served as a sort of clubhouse for many in the city’s comics community. It will survive, in name and in spirit, in a different form – a new location, on College Street, on the edge of Kensington Market, opened last month – but at the same time one can’t help but feel a sense of an ending, that a chapter is coming to a close.
“It will definitely be hard to have that feeling of something just so densely packed with history,” said the comics artist Michael DeForge. “I’m sure the new location will eventually get as lived in, and accumulate that history as it goes on, but that’s going to be a hard thing to get back again.”