Bookshop struggles to survive with neighbouring construction site
MONTREAL - It’s tough enough to keep a small, independent bookstore afloat lately, but for one store on Queen Mary Blvd., problems have been compounded because of a massive construction site next door.
Business at Bibliophile has been severely impacted by months of construction on a condominium building next door.
“There's no parking on this side of the street, the buses have been limited for a period of time -- one month two months -- they took away all the buses,” said Sandra Climan, owner of the bookshop.
Foot traffic has also stopped since the sidewalk in front of the store was also closed.
“I’ve had people call me and say, ‘I've gone around the block seven times.’ ‘I say, ‘Don't worry, I'll bring it out to your car if you know what you want,’” she said.
Climan said she approached the construction company and spoken to the city about the interference to her business, but it looks doubtful anything can be done.
“It's completely in conformity with zoning, but for safety reasons, the city has had to take away much of the parking, barricade part of the road, allow a construction trailer,” said Montreal city councillor Marvin Rotrand.
Rotrand said there’s nothing the city can do except encourage people to buy local anyway – which was the goal at a pre-holiday event at Bibliophile Sunday that Rotrand helped organize.
“The best I can do is make sure people know that this place means a lot to our community and we should help in their tough times,” he said.
Business is done old school at Bibliophile – even information about authors and books is handwritten on cards.
“It's small, it's private, it's personal, it's friendly,” said Sonia Zylerberg, author of The Orange on the Seder Plate.
Loyal customer Cheryl Jacobson said she’s bought books at Bibliophile since the shop opened 30 years ago,
“If I run out of a book and I'm on vacation, I will read on the kindle, but my choice is to read a book,” she said. “I like the feel of it and I like the warmth of it. I like the experience.”
Despite the construction, which began in July, Climan has managed to keep the store on its feet.
“I want to be here. We can't afford to lose independent businesses,” she said.
It will be another six to eight months before the condos are built.