‘We have no choice’: rent hike forces Montreal’s Astro Books to close

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Rent hike forces Montreal’s Astro Books to close
WATCH: After more than 30 years in business, Ste-Catherine Street's Astro Books – which specializes in comics – will soon be closing up shop. As Global's Felicia Parrillo reports, the owners just can't afford to stay – Apr 1, 2018

Betty Stock Handleman and her brother, Paul, have been running Librairie Astro — also known as Astro Books — on Ste-Catherine Street, for more than three decades.

The store has gone through its share of ups and downs, but the last year has been particularly difficult, Handleman says.

“If we couldn’t make it at this rent — double the rent? Forget it,” she said.

READ MORE: Montreal’s Ste-Catherine Street construction begins

Last October, the building that houses the bookstore was sold to a new owner, who decided to up their monthly rent from $3,500 to $9,500 — a cost Handleman said the store simply can’t afford.

“We’re closing,” Handleman said. “We have no choice.”

READ MORE: Ste-Catherine Street vacancies mirror the rise of online shopping

Beginning this week, Astro’s books, comics, cards, CDs and more will be on sale — everything must go, the store owners say.

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Jean-Marc Pellerin, who has been working at Astro on and off for the past 25 years says seeing the shop close will be heartbreaking.

“There’s not many stores like this left in Montreal,” he said. “There used to be four [or] five bookstores in this area, and now we’re one of the last ones open.”

READ MORE: ‘I’m up to over 4,000’: A look at comic book fandom

Handleman, 72, says though closing their longtime business will be difficult, she and her brother, 68, aren’t able at their age to open a new location.

The store will close its doors for good at the end of June.

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