October 28, 2021

The Queens County Citizen

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Who still buys books?

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In a scene from Philippe Flordeau’s new film, My Salinger Year, Shows from March 5, the main character, writer-amateur writer Joanna, who works at a literary agency, goes to a bookstore. Behind it, we spot the window of SW Welsh, Rue Saint-Vitour in Montreal.


Mark KasiviMark Kasivi
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My Salinger Year, Which deals exclusively with worship dedicated to the solitary author by his special admirers Heart catcher, JD Salinger, set in New York, but filmed in my Mile End neighborhoods. I also found my parents ’house there.

Photo by David Boyle, Press

Schiller Lavi, owner of the building that owns the SW Welsh bookstore, has threatened to close due to a rent increase.

As I was walking with Sony to my parents ’house, balcony for a visit last weekend, I saw how many neighbors were dying. At first glance, one of the four commercial premises in Avenue du Park‌ is for rent. Prior to the outbreak, in the midst of the economic boom, it was estimated that 15% of commercial premises in Montreal were empty.

“A Mile End is Dead” is a poster on Avenue Bernard, between Avenue du Park and Boulevard Saint-Laurent, announcing that the number of vacant lots is staggering. Some commercial windows on this artery have been plastered for over two decades.

I have lived in the neighborhood for almost 30 years. Except for one year of study abroad and one year of exile on the plateau Mont-Royal, I have lived there since I was a teenager. For better and worse, I saw the change of neighbors. Gentrification has done its job. The shops on Waverly Street showed the way to higher prices. Local stores closed their doors in favor of well-established chain branches.

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In the mid-2000s, Mile End became the district of Montreal, reflecting the international success of its artists. In Rue Saint-Vietour, we met members of the arcade fire group who recorded their epic album in the neighborhood. Funerals Hotel 2 owned by Godspeed You ensemble musicians in Tango’s studio! The black emperor. World-renowned artists such as Grimes or McDimarco settled there in the process.

Gradually, in recent years, these artists have left the neighborhood and cultural sites have disappeared one after another as rental prices have risen unreasonably. La Coupe Le Cagibi, located in the Rue Saint-Vitour Cafe and a popular showroom with a young clientele Hipster Architect closed its doors in 2018. Six years ago, my neighborhood bookstore, ume quem des Jores, moved to his home in Villere, which was replaced by a sandwich shop and another intended to feed Ubisoft employees. And very bad for the nourishment of the soul.

Photo by David Boyle, Press

SW Welsh Bookstore Rue has been established in Saint-Viet‌r for almost 15 years.

బ్లా Two blocks from the former location of the Cuem des Jores, another bookstore in Rue Saint-Vitour, SW Welch is now threatened with closure. Stephen Welch’s small second-hand bookstore has been on the street for almost 15 years, but the owner of the building that owns it, Schiller Lavie, wants to increase his rent from $ 2,000 to $ 3,000 (and up to about $), adding 5,000 charges despite the epidemic’s harsh financial climate). .

Stephen Welch is reluctant to leave his campus in August. The bookseller is a recent victim of real estate ulation scandals and a sharp rise in commercial rents in the area, especially from Schiller Lavi, a company that owns several buildings in the Mile End. De Gaulle Pastry-Bakery, a former neighbor of the bookstore, left the area two years ago for the same reasons.

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In an interview earlier this week with my colleague Government magazine Brendan Kelly, co-owner of the building where the SW Welch bookstore is located, compared Danny Lavi and Stephen Welch’s business to a video store. “The guy sells antique books,” he commented. You have to ask yourself: who still buys books today? ”

What a commentary on absurd stupidity. A small scene of an owner not recognizing the value of culture. Unless businesses like Mr. Welsh make up today’s milestone, all your buildings on Saint-Vitor Street will have low resale value, Mr. Lavi. Want to kill a golden egg-laying goose? Keep doing so. You set off for a good start.

I was not the only one outraged by the dirty stupidity of the Danny Lavi question. The hashtag #MileEndEnsemble has rallied hundreds of residents and small businesses in the area, hoping to show their solidarity at the SW Welch bookstore on March 13th. Their paradoxical credibility: Who still buys books today?

The phenomenon of exodus of local stores is not without consequences. It is a neighborhood identity that runs the risk of being broken and, in the long run, distorted. However, its identity makes the Mile End, at least for now, one of the most vibrant and fun neighborhoods in Montreal.

This is the reason why it attracts groups of tourists, some of whom do guided cycling or walking tours on its streets. They could not come to visit the branches of the chains like the Copper Branch, Starbucks or David Tea, which disappeared as soon as they arrived or almost from the neighbors. They come to compare the bagels of Fairmount Avenue and Saint-Vitor Street and the Olympic and Club social cafes or to see the wall of birdcages by florist Tommy.

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They come to read a book at the famous Drone & Quarterly bookstore or to shop for vinyl at Sonorama, Phonopolis or La Rama, Avenue Bernard. They come for vintage decor and Wilensky’s salami sandwich, so aptly described Daddy Kravitz’s Apprenticeship, By Mordecai Richler, and featured in the film of the same name.

In light of his contempt for literary culture, a scene from a film about the Jedi Salinger screened at the opening of the Berlin Film Festival ‘was shot in the bookstore of his own mansion by Danny Lavi. However, this scene would not have been filmed in a simple, soulless sandwich shop.