Legendary nerd haven Silver Snail leaving Queen West in 2012
Last Friday, Toronto felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror at the news that Queen Street pillar and nerd magnet Silver Snail would be moving to another location. The Snail is a 30-year-old institution and one of the last businesses on the Queen West stretch that can claim longevity (who knew that plying comics and 20-sided dice was such a reliable trade?). According to Toronto.com, store manager George Zotti says Queen West is no longer the place for literary types of the nerdy, or merely snobby, persuasion: “Queen Street is not the book-friendly place it used to be,” he says. “If you want shoes or $300 jeans, it’s a good place to go. It’s lost that browsing, literary feel it used to have.”
The store is legendary for hosting indie artists, as well as comic book royalty such as Simpsons creator Matt Groening and Sandman writer Neil Gaiman. With its proximity to MuchMusic, it’s also had drop-ins from a litany of celebrities with comic fetishes, including Kiss’s Gene Simmons, actor Robin Williams, Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics and Burton Cummings of the Guess Who. “We’ve opened the store early so Harrison Ford and his kids could shop,” says Zotti, who has worked at the store on and off since he was 15. “Mark Hamill came in when I was 18.”
Early speculation suggests that when the Silver Snail leaves Queen West, it will move to the Annex and join bookstores like BMV and Book City as well as comic stores like The Beguiling. As the nerd factor in the Annex increases, we can’t wait to see the Friday night brawls between comic nerds, frat boys at the Brunswick House, and bereft hipsters still bemoaning the Green Room’s on-again-off-again flirtation with legitimacy. Maybe the Bloor Cinema could sell popcorn.