Beloved Mile End bookstore saved after landlord, store owner negotiate rental agreement

S.W. Welch will remain open for 2 more years

Stephen Welch was facing a rent increase of $1,500 per month before the agreement. (Dave St-Amant/CBC)

Stephen Welch, owner of a beloved bookstore in the Mile End, says his shop will stay open after his landlord had a «change of heart.»

In a Facebook post, Welch says he negotiated to keep the S.W. Welch bookstore open for two more years, until his retirement.

«I went up a little and he went down a lot,» Welch said. «The outpouring of love and concern by so many people to our plight has been amazing and in the end effective achieving this result, thank you!!»

The bookstore seemed destined to close when it faced a significant rent increase, coming off a challenging financial year as a non-essential business.

Before coming to an agreement with the building owner, real estate developer Shiller Lavy, Welch said he was facing a rent increase of $1,500 a month. His current lease ends in August.

He has been running the bookstore on Saint-Viateur Street for the past 15 years.

The backing of a community

A demonstration in support of the bookstore was planned for March 13.

The Mile End Ensemble, an online group, asked readers to line up outside S.W. Welch to buy books, in response to building co-owner Dany Lavy questioning the bookstore business model, according to the group’s Facebook post.


Richard Ryan, city councillor for Mile End, said in an email that he would work with the Quebec government to establish a provincial registry in an effort to minimize real estate speculation.

«The agreement to allow Mr. Welch’s bookstore to continue is excellent news that will not only benefit the Mile-End, but also provide hope for all business owners who face unwarranted rent increases,» Ryan said.

«Community organizing to support the bookstore speaks to the importance of preserving the diversity of our streets and our neighborhoods. It also shows a clear desire to see [building] owners more connected to the needs and reality of a neighborhood, by making their business strategies more flexible.»

Welch and Shiller Lavy didn’t immediately return a request for comment from CBC News.

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