Sometimes, Things Are Just Sad

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Sometimes, I can wax poetic about the way the landscape of bookstores is always changing, just like everything else in a city. Sometimes, I can look at a dingy old building being torn down and remember how the walls were cracked and the staircases ancient.

But sometimes, we can be walking to work and discover that demolition for the World’s Biggest Bookstore began, and all there’s room for is sadness.

You can still see the fixtures, bookcases, even office chairs, intact and exposed where the bulldozers haven’t reached, mangled and flattened where they have. We walked around behind and saw Geoff’s receiving bay, now just a pile of rubble, with the second floor mezzanine, still bright yellow and carpeted, visible from the alley below.

I worked there for years.

Some of my favourite things about World’s Biggest Bookstore:

  • Standing at the top of the steps down into the Fiction section and looking at the miles and miles of shelves full of things I haven’t read yet.
  • The mysterious old back staircase where we found a bowling pin from the store’s first incarnation as a bowling alley.
  • Being the store that always had book #7 of an old children’s series when no one else did.
  • Starting work at 6:30 in the morning in this hushed world full of wonderful books – such a strange peacefulness.
  • All those books, all the time.

It was a strange old duck of a bookstore, and for every nostalgic story there’s truly weird sagas of squirrels nesting in conveyor belts, broken air conditioners and electrical fires, and the basement that was so scary I never, EVER, went down there, just in case.

RIP, WBB.

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