What the next chapter holds for downtown's City Lights bookstore – London Free Press (Blogs)

At 6 p.m. on Nov. 30, Dan Harvey will officially become the new co-owner of City Lights Bookshop, the downtown bookstore that has been, according to its motto, defending culture in London since 1975.
At 6 p.m. on Nov. 30, Dan Harvey will officially become the new co-owner of City Lights Bookshop, the downtown bookstore that has been, according to its motto, defending culture in London since 1975.
And how will Harvey feel?
“I think on that day it will be a moment of surprise and somewhat shock and concern about what I’ve just done,” he said. “I think it’s also going to be a lot of excitement and a lot of optimism and hope for the future.”
Co-owned by Jim Capel and Teresa Tarasewicz, the Richmond Street fixture has been on Harvey’s mind for years. He came to London from Guelph in 2005 for his studies at Western University, and wound up married to Londoner Jennifer Brewe.
“This isn’t something new that we’ve been thinking about. It’s something we’ve been concocting for a while,” Harvey said. “If it had been any other bookstore, I might have made the purchase a little slower . . .  maybe it might not have happened. I know the history of it, it’s just different (from any other bookstore).”
Harvey, Brewe and their friend Drew Nelles make up the new ownership team of the store that became a London institution after it was bought and renamed by Forest City gadfly Marc Emery . The asking price for the Victorian-era building on Richmond Street, the business and its inventory, was $850,000. Harvey approached Capel and Tarasewicz quickly with a full-price offer after it went up for sale in September, and they accepted.
Lovers of the store’s vibe and idiosyncrasies, the trio of new owners plans to keep as much of the City Lights character intact as they can. There are two changes, though, they will be making sooner rather than later.
It takes a special place to bring up the word magic in descriptions from different people. We have felt that bookshop magic the entire time we have worked here and our customers have too. Let’s hope the good ship City Lights continues that unique magic with others at the helm. pic.twitter.com/OWBNEL7ba4
First, they plan to beef up the store’s virtual component. “The first step is making things available on the internet as much as possible,” Harvey said.
Second, they will make the property more wheelchair accessible.
Harvey, who uses a wheelchair after a spinal-cord injury 18 years ago, wants to put in some kind of lift or elevator that would allow him to venture into the building’s upper floors.
As for the future, the new owners are looking to a venerable Guelph institution, the Bookshelf Café, for inspiration as a one-stop entertainment mini-complex.
“We have ideas and dreams of a small screening room and a café,” Harvey said.
Satellite locations selling books, such as his photography studio in Wortley Village, might also be in the cards, he said.
“City Lights, right now, it’s an old friend that a lot of people know. They know the smell when they go in . . . It brings a lot of memories back for a lot of people,” Harvey said. “That’s what we were hoping to capture and hope to carry with us as we move forward.”
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