On the closing of Yesterday’s Heroes

Over at Sequential, David Hains writes about the Bloor/Bathurst area and attempts to shed some light on the closing of long-lived area fixture Yesterday’s Heroes.

Aside from YH, Toronto has many long-lived comic shops
– the Silver Snail on Queen arrived in the mid-1970’s – spinning out of the back room of science fiction bookstore Bakka Books – for a brief time it was also the home of Andromeda Distributing – the Silver Snail is Toronto’s oldest surviving comic book shop
– John Biernet’s Dragon Lady Comics (originally east of the Snail on Queen, now on College Street West) debuted in the late 1970’s and is Toronto’s second oldest surviving comic shop
– The Giancoulous brothers’ One Million Comix (on Yonge, south of Wellesley) launched in the late 1980’s, originally as a franchise of Gerry Ross’ Montreal store of the same name, but has long since shed that connection.
– Another late 1980’s arrival, The Beguiling has since gone on to international renown and was this year’s Kremer Award winning retailer
– Survivors of the 1990’s – Excalibur Comics, Paradise Comics, Hairy Tarantula, 3rd Quadrant, Comics’n’More and a few others.

Bloor/Bathurst is an interesting area. While David mentions the area is going down one store with the departure of YH (leaving the Beguiling, the Labyrinth and BMV), my sources tell me that will probably change soon as another player is looking at eventually moving his existing store into the area. I wonder if perhaps that area has too many comic book shops though – it reminds me of the Queen Street West scene when Silver Snail, Dragon Lady and 3rd Quadrant were all within a couple of blocks of one another. One hopes that this isn’t the onset of a comic shop “war”. There was a pricing war a few years back which severely hurt quite a few smaller shops.

I was first made aware of the closing of YH when I heard that the store’s owner was shopping around his back issue inventory to other stores/dealers earlier this year. I will confess I haven’t been to the store, or heard much of anything about YH since my high school years when I used to make the rounds looking for back issues in the 80′.

The closing is purported to be because the store’s owner has decided to give up the weekly drive, not because of specific external financial pressures or changes to the industry. YH’s proximity to University of Toronto, the subway and the younger skewed Annex area all contributed to it’s longevity. It also diversified slightly and carried products that were not also carried or promoted by the other Annex area stores such as toys and cards.