Monday, April 26, 2010

R.I.P. Sophia Books & Elfsar Comics

It was the Granville Book Co. a few years ago.

Then it was Duthies.

Now it's Sophia Books.

Sophia Books goddammit!

The news spread around Twitter earlier this morning that beloved independent bookstore Sophia Books was finally closing its doors due to Vancouver's obnoxious rent rates. The Georgia Straight's now reporting that the owners are shutting down their retail business but will still pursue mail orders. However, Vancouver's losing a gem of a literary retail space, especially since it catered to a unique niche of foreign language books, import magazines, and art books.

Man, what a heartbreaker!

One of my favourite activities was to head down to Gastown and escape into their shop to just browse without any sense of purpose. Whether it was attempting to tackle Proust en fran├žais (and fail miserably), or simply peek at what Italian Vogue considered relevant, or heck - I lie. You'd often find me seeking cutesy Japanese "how to make felt animals" books or skimming through the graphic novels. And I'd often come back with a bag full of goodies. I really, honestly, thought they'd be able to stay afloat due to their unique market, but even that doesn't seem to do it anymore.

Book stores like Sophia added to downtown Vancouver's "spice" - its eccentricity. Shops like Sophia make downtown Vancouver interesting. However, every year we see more and more of these independent businesses close their door for another generic gentrified chain business to open in its place. If it sounds like I'm bitter, it's because I partially am. It's with sincere sadness to see it closing its doors. Apparently as of this very second they're having a 40% off *everything* sale.


Oh, and get this. As I'm composing this little post, news is spreading on Twitter that Yaletown-based Elfsar Comics is closing. Is this some sort of cruel theme for the week? What next? No, I don't even want to joke about it. Sheesh! But seriously, what do you think's going to open up in that space? A yoga studio, doggy boutique, or a hair salon?


Blogger said...

Ohh that's sad.

I bought my Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Elfsar!

Lorra Fae said...

What a crock of shit. This is precisely why I hate cities so much, and Vancouver is now just becoming like any other city - a CLONE. No matter where you go in the world, a city seems to be just a mix of the same stores, same crap, same types of people. At least this is what I have noticed - the things that make a city unique (and let's be honest, stores make up most of a city, along with residential apartments and restaurants) tend to be the same everywhere. It's why I like small towns when I travel.
When I went to Auckland, Sydney, Perth...nothing really struck me as all that interesting - but when I got OUT of the city, then I was interested.
Taking away things that make a city special, like indie bookstores for example, make a city boring. I agree that another ucking yoga studio/doggy clothing store/etc will go into Yaletown, as if there is not enough.
Vancouver is insane for rent. I don't know why these businesses don't just MOVE. At least then they would still be around.
I miss when Granville and Robson was cool. Now it's just boring as hell.