Things were already tough for stores before the pandemic hit, with online sales and rising rents forcing people who own actual stores to sail through very narrow waters. But since COVID-19, it's just been like the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan out there in malls and once busy streets, and we've lost a lot of Tom Hankses.
Sometimes, it's just our local branch that's gone, like the Second Cup on Front; sometimes, it's a contraction, like the two Sporting Lifes on Yonge north of Eglinton becoming one.
And sometimes, they're just gone.
The Store On Queen had been a staple for window shoppers in Trinity Bellwoods since 2012, but it closed a month before COVID-19. It's got a new online life, but the flashy floral windows that were art of what made that still sort of funky part of Queen West what it was is gone.
Even if you didn't like tea, those smooth aquas and other pastels could soothe you even if you just walked past. They were pretty LGBTQ2+-friendly, too. And then they came out with the doggie biscuits! There are still two malls stores (Sherway and Eaton Centre), but that's not the same.*
H&M dealt the first blow, and it might even have been a fatal one, but then Zara, and Uniqlo.... Poor Le Chateau. They were all Canadian - founded in 1959 in Quebec! – and now they're closing all 100+ stores in Canada.
These aren't all gone yet, but they're dropping like flies, and the one at Church and Front is gone, the one at York U dropped in February. Now they're getting into the cannabis business.
We may end up remembering them more for their Helvetica logo than the cool-from-a-distance-but-actually-maybe-just-generic? clothing. The UK-based company's Canadian franchise was held by a Montreal company but they were pretty visible in Toronto, and had 24 stores across the country.
Their masks were fine, but their yellow yoga mats went perfectly with those yellow edge tiles in the subway stations. (Remember subway stations?) You can still get them other places, but we'll miss that Rosedale shop.
It's not like we're mourning the passing of the Eaton Centre store that looked exactly like the Apple Store upstairs except with less friendly staff but does this mean craven imitation is out this season? What about all those chicken sandwiches?
Toys Toys Toys
If you grew up in Scarborough, or if you were in Scarborough in June, Toys Toys Toys at Scarborough Town Centre was where you got your Nerf on. Now, so many Barbies, so few Malibu Dream Houses.
Ten Thousand Villages
Now this just seems unnecessary. A store devoted entirely to getting fair wages to artisans in the developing world? Really COVID? The company still exists, but the Toronto ones are gone.
* This story has been updated.