Toronto Comic Landmark Moves On

Toronto’s comic book store scene has been changing in the last couple years. Both Yesterday’s Heroes and Dragon Lady Comics have closed and now there has been a big announcement regarding Silver Snail. There have been rumours of the Silver Snail moving locations for a while now, but no one knew when it was going to happen. Then on April 11th, the Torontoist officially announced the store would be picking up from its home on Queen street and moving to the Yonge and Dundas Square neighbourhood. They will be open for business on July 1, 2012. (Click here to read the Torontoist Article)

Their address will be 329 Yonge Street, which puts them in the neighbourhood of other stores such as Hairy Tarantulas, One Million Comix,  BMV, the World’s Biggest Bookstore and 401 Games. It will be directly competing with stores that have lower priced items. Fortunately, this neighbourhood also has a lot of foot traffic and tourists.  Silver Snail has been on Queen Street for 36 years and has always been known for its location and store front. Hopefully they will be able to maintain their reputation when moving to another downtown hot spot. It looks like time will tell if this new home will be a good fit.


Silver Snail's soon to be new location

Because of the move, Silver Snail will be leaving Queen Street and the downtown core (West of Bay Street and South of Bloor) virtually free of comic stores. I am particularly sad about this because it’s where I usually get my comics. Also, I know there will be some customers who, after spending all day trekking down Queen Street shopping with their significant others, really looked forward to their comic shopping at Silver Snail.

The move of the Snail makes me think about what the future of downtown Toronto will be like. The comic stores that are moving out of the area or closing down seem to be the ones that have been around since the 80’s. The owners are getting older and making tough decisions about their stores. Some had to close simply because their wasn’t anyone to take over and the owners wanted to retire, like Yesterday’s Heroes.  Will these stores continue to get pushed out of downtown for one reason or another? Will this leave an opening for newer stores to move in, or just leave an empty void?

Leigh Hart
Leigh Hart

Leigh Woodhall - Soapbox Nerd. Aerialist. Writer. Podcaster. All around tough guy (but a lady version). Follow me on twitter @Leigh_Louise

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  1. While the Dragon Lady did close on Feb.2, we picked up the torch from John Biernat and opened The Comic Book Lounge + Gallery 1/2 block east of Dragon Lady’s old location on Feb.8 and we’ve been open ever since. The Comic Book Lounge is located at 587A College Street, at College & Clinton (west of Bathurst).

  2. I don’t believe this is a good move for them. The Snail is an icon on Queen St. Their old store is 22,000 sq ft, and the new one is 33, 000 or so. How much do you think the rent is going to be at Yonge and Dundas? Bigger store means bigger overhead, additional staff and inventory. I’d be surprised if the Snail is still there 5 years from now.

  3. Good to know that there are comics south of Bloor Street, and that a legendary Toronto comic store (Dragon Lady) still has it’s roots somewhere in the city. And, that it didn’t just disappear like Yesterday’s Heroes.

    I have been to your gallery before for Francis Manapul’s The Flash showing. It is a great space you have!

  4. I do think it is a large risk they are taking. I believe that they do get a lot of customers simply because of their current location. Yonge and Dundas is a heavy foot traffic area like Queen Street. Perhaps they will have the same luck there.

  5. I think the type of foot traffic is quite different at Queen/John/Spadina vs. Yonge/Dundas. At their old location, they had a much younger crowd in the area looking for vintage clothes, books, music, etc. Yonge/Dundas has a very manufactured feel.

    Apart from checking out the entertainment at Dundas Sq–which is a very big draw for a lot of people–I would never, ever think of strolling around Yonge/Dundas area. It’s just not a good place to walk. No atmosphere, personality. Just mostly tourists.

    I wish them success. What I really wish for is a Big B type store in Toronto; a welcoming, clean store perfect for enthusiasts and new comers/less frequent buyers. 1,000,000 has a great new issue wall but no graded Gold/Silver/Bronze. The place is not inviting at all. I would not ever think to walk in there off the street. Paradise has a great online selection of Gold/Silver/Bronze titles but their space can barely fit three people (plus it’s way up Yonge St.). The Current Silver Snail doesn’t even have a great new issue wall or any graded Silver/Bronze/Gold. Great toy selection tho.

    So you have a great new issue store (1,000,000), a great back issue store (Paradise), and a great toy store (Silver Snail). Big B is heaven in comparison.

  6. Careful RJ, lets not appear as if we are endorsing Walters store… conflict of interest and all. Especially now that we know he hates Asians and Chinese rice paddies.

    From what I understand, Queen Street has become too expensive. Stores like HMV and the Gap need to have a presence there for PR reasons but apparently, are not very profitable. Without the Snail building, it may prove too difficult to make a go of it in that area. It was a crying shame when Pages shut it’s doors… and we all know about the other who’ve tried.

    Still, if anyone can make it happen, it’s Walter… the comic book tycoon! My advice… just don’t set up in China town.

  7. RJ I agree the type of customer is different. I know a lot of people travel in from the suburbs to go comic shopping at Silver Snail, and there new location is near the Eaton’s Centre, so hopefully that will help with that type of customer.

    As for the quality of comic stores in Toronto, I am known to rant incessantly about this topic. I agree with you, every store has different good and bad qualities. For example; If they have good service they aren’t very clean, if they are clean they have bad service. All downtown Toronto needs is a store with all the good qualities.

  8. Shouldn’t people endorse stores they think are worthy? If a comic store is clean with good service, space and pricing we should shout their name from the roof tops. Maybe it will get the other stores to wake up and pay attention to what really makes a customer happy.

  9. Stores are what they are because of the personality of the owners. Nothing will change unless the owners change… which is highly unlikely considering human nature. Normally I’d agree with you but since Walter is a major contributor here, It may appear self serving. Perception is everything!

    On that note, let me apologize to you in advance. My jokes and sarcasm don’t always come through well, so If you haven’t been offended by any thing I’ve already said… give it time ^_^ Normally I’d tread more carefully… but life is too short (hmmm, did I just contradicted my self…?).

    Hey, nothing deep to discuss today? How about the greatest comic battle ever… My pick: Galactus vs Spinx from the pages of the Fantastic Four

    What ever happened to the Spinx…?

  10. Sounds like you’ve been pre warned by your fellow compadres…

    I think any discussion that enlightens is worth while. We all like comics, that’s why we’re here… but awareness would lead to a more intimate relationship with the medium. Sort of like getting to know someone. I’m inclined to believe that establishing an emotional connection would be more effective.

    I’m in no position to tell people what they should or should not like, but we can explore abstract notions of good and bad though inference. Walter makes all kinds of wild notions in his Undervalue Spotlight… but it’s backed up by reason. I think we’re all welcome to agree or disagree but he presents an aspirational train of thought that can be followed.

    Blogs are Web 2.0… so I guess the challenge for you as a contributor is… how do you take what you know, and feel… and turn it into food for thought. There is a whole back story to the Snail closing. One of economics, the corporatization of Queen West and as a cultural loss to the city of Toronto…

    I look forward to your next post ^_^

  11. The place is not inviting at all. I would not ever think to walk in there off the street.

    Correction: it’s not inviting for you. For many of the people who go there (myself included), it’s a great store, and the $20.00 lifetime membership means that I can get 20% off on my books, videos, toys (when I buy them) and other merch. Rather than be putt off by the way the store looks (as if that really means anything anyway), people should be entranced by how low the prices are, and how much they will get for their money. That says more to me (and should be saying more to you) than how clean and well-looking a place is, or that it can get buyers solely because it looks like a big box store (which I though that people were generally getting tired of anyway.)

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