Update Dec. 9: a statement from Indigo has been added to this story
Huntsville will lose its only bookstore at the end of this year.
Staff at the Coles bookstore in Huntsville Place Mall confirmed today that it will close effective Dec. 31, 2021.
Coles has had a long history in Canada. Brothers Carl and Jack Cole opened the first Coles store in 1940 in Toronto. In 1995, Coles merged with SmithBooks to form Chapters Inc. A couple of years later, Indigo Books and Music launched, and then in 2001 merged with Chapters. Indigo is now the largest book retailer in Canada, employing approximately 5,000 people across the country.
The Huntsville store opened in June 1992. Its manager, Catherine Wyle, has been there from the beginning. She was not able to comment on the company’s decision to close its Huntsville location.
An Indigo representative emailed the following statement on Dec. 9:
“As part of our normal business practices, we regularly review and optimize our real estate portfolio. We consider many factors when we make these decisions. After 30 wonderful years, Coles Huntsville will close to the public on December 31, 2021. We remain deeply dedicated to serving the community and are always available at indigo.ca where customers can enjoy the same great products they know and love. We are working closely with all employees to ensure they are fully supported through this transition.”
Huntsville previously had an independent bookstore, The Bookcase, which closed in 2012 after 42 years in the community. A used bookstore, So Many Books, So Little Time, changed its focus to women’s fashion after it was flooded in 2013.
Coles will be the last to fall. Many in the community will have fond memories of both the store and its staff from its three-decade run.
Beyond local stores that carry a small selection of books, Huntsville-area bibliophiles will now either have to order online, or travel to Parry Sound or Orillia which both have independent bookstores, or North Bay or Barrie which each have independents as well as Coles or Indigo stores. Bracebridge has a used bookstore, The Owl Pen.
As of October 2, 2021, Indigo operated 88 Chapters or Indigo superstores and 86 small-format stores as Coles and Indigospirit. The small-format stores tend to be found in smaller or more remote communities.
It’s not the first time Coles stores have been shuttered in recent years.
In early 2020, Indigo closed 20 Coles stores, “which were either not profitable or very, very marginal,” Indigo CEO Heather Reisman was quoted in an interview with Bloomberg at the time. “That was a tough decision because in those communities, we were the only bookstore, and I suspect the only store that was willing to operate at a loss to serve the community.”
Indigo closed more Coles stores across the country earlier this year including ones in Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, and Cobourg.
According to a financial report released November 9, revenue for the company’s most recent fiscal quarter, the 13-week period ending Oct. 2, 2021, was $238 million. It reported net earnings of $3.5 million compared to a net loss of $17.5 million for its second quarter last year, and noted that “[r]etail does remain traffic-challenged”.
In its first quarter of this fiscal year, the 13-week period ending July 3, 2021, Indigo reported a net loss of $21.9 million compared to a net loss of $31.6 million in its first fiscal quarter of the previous year.
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