doesn’t leak and it’s bigger than the sales
floor above.” It was tough to find adequate space to store years of accumulated
stock. Birkemoe took a 10-year lease on
the new property. “We’re here for the
long term,” he said.
On the main level, shelves are organized by genre or author, and there’s
original comic art for sale, with few sidelines. “I never wanted to sell toys or
games,” Birkemoe said.
The new location and fresh interior
look has had a positive impact on busi-
ness. “Before, we primarily had cus-
tomers who knew what they wanted,”
Birkemoe said. “Now we have people
who walk in out of curiosity.”
In addition, the location close to the
university is bringing in more students
and professors, many of whom are key cli-
ents for the store. Classroom adoption of
graphic novels and comics has become
more commonplace and accounts for a
burgeoning part of the store’s trade.
“Before, it might have been considered
edgy to include Watchmen in a course
about queer studies; now professors are
willing to branch out and try more
things,” explained Birkemoe, pointing to
a copy of Benjamin Marra’s Terror Assaulter:
O.M. W.O. T. (Fantagraphics, 2015) being
taught in a course on alternative heroics.
“If a professor doesn’t quite know what he
or she wants for a course, we know what
to recommend,” he said. The Beguiling
also supplies much of the comics and
graphic novel stock for libraries across
Canada, which accounts for some 50% of
the store’s annual revenue.
The one major casualty of the move
was the closing of Little Island Comics,
Beguiling’s highly regarded children’s
Toronto’s Beguiling Comics Store
The Beguiling Books and Art, wh ich opened in 1 987 in Toronto, is considered one of the
best comic book stores in North America.
When it was announced several years ago
that Beguiling (which takes its name
from the The Beguiling of Merlin, a
painting by Edward Burne-Jones) would
have to move out of its former home in
an old Victorian mansion to make room
for a condo development, it looked like
it might be the end. But four months
after a blowout clearance sale in January,
and a move from the Mervish Village
neighborhood to more modern digs near
the University of Toronto, the shop is
Gone are the teetering piles of esoterica and dusty racks holding hard-to-find comics. Though smaller—900 sq.
ft., down from 1,200—the shop is now
more of a clean, well-lighted place. “It
also has amenities like windows, level
floors, and enough room in the aisles for
two people to pass each other,” joked
Peter Birkemoe, who bought the store
from the original owners in 1998.
Birkemoe is largely responsible for its
reputation as a retail destination for the
best in comics and graphic novels.
In addition to the sales floor, a basement space has been key to making a
smooth transition, Birkemoe said. “It
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