Photo of the 25th Anniversary crew. Back: Chris Ware, Seth, Chester Brown, Peter Birkemoe, Adrian Tomine. Front: Charles Burns, Anouk Ricard. Photo by Nathalie Atkinson.
Before we get started with this evening’s event and our esteemed authors I wanted to talk about how lucky I feel.
I am lucky to have a job that brings me into contact with so many of the creators I have admired most – many of whom have become great friends.
I’m lucky to have an independent book store that is still thriving against all odds 25 years after it opened in a little hole on Harbord Street. While the physical dimensions of the store haven’t expanded much since we moved to Markham Street, the scope of the store is now enormous. We’re carrying more diverse and excellent product than ever, with shelves going up to the ceiling, and reaching book lovers farther afield than we ever have before. We’re weathering the many storms of independent bookselling, and continuing to change and adapt.
A Beguiling anniversary event also never fails to remind me of how lucky I am to have met the woman I share my life with ten years ago when she covered the 15th anniversary also held here at The Bloor.
I want to also take a minute to say some thanks.
Thanks to the great publishers, large and small who help us fill our shelves, particularly Random House and Drawn and Quarterly who have graciously brought their authors here for tonight.
Thanks to my incredible staff past and present that has become a second family. It is their knowledge and hard work that keeps the store at the top of its game. I always start off by training them, but before too long all of them spend as much time training me.
Thanks to the artists – creative community that produce the wonders we sell, and have made us a hub for all things comics – known not just in Toronto or Canada, but internationally. Through TCAF we’ve been able to connect with more cartoonists, institutions, and great work the world over, and every time a tourist walks through the store from the U.S. or Europe and says that they just had to visit while in Toronto, it is wonderful validation.
Thanks to Steve Solomos and Sean Scoffield the store’s founders, who created for me, the perfect business model for The Beguiling: they looked at what other comic shops were doing and did the opposite. They also gave the store a real attitude and ‘reputation’, compared to which my own snobbery will always seem moderate.
Lastly, thanks go to you, our customers. It is with great pleasure that I see this many people out for this event, some I recognize who have been shopping here since it opened and others who have just come across us. We appreciate your patronage, loyalty and your forgiveness in shopping at a store that often has, as my father might say, 10 pounds of shit crammed into a 5-pound bag.
- Peter Birkemoe