Eleanor LeFave says she is not worried the meeting to support her children’s bookstore was cancelled Tuesday night because she knows the community is still concerned — and not just for her own business.
“Everyone still feels very strongly about how things are going in our city,” she said. “This is not just about Mabel’s Fables it’s about all the retailers in Toronto that are struggling to keep going.”
Nor does she blame Toronto-St. Paul’s councillor Josh Matlow for calling off the meeting billed as “Save Mabel’s Fables Bookstore” after he was exposed to coronavirus and went into two-weeks’ isolation.
“It makes sense that he would take precautions — that’s the smart thing to do,” LeFave said. “He’s looking out for everybody.”
Besides, the meeting is just being postponed, she said.
In the meantime, supporters can go to Matlow’s website and sign the petition to save Mabel’s Fables. And they should make a comment on the page “about what it means to them, not just for us to survive but for all small retails to survive,” the storeowner said.
“I believe we’re all part of the culture and the flavour of our city and we are all sitting ducks,” LeFave said. Retailers have no rent control and no compensation for disruptive construction work, she added.
Mabel’s Fables, which has been in business been in business on Mt. Pleasant Road for 31 years, has been in talks with new building owners Maple Venture Properties for two months over its lease.
The final offer from the landlord would increase the rent by 70 per cent, according to Matlow. A statement from Matlow’s office said the company is assembling buildings on Mount Pleasant north of Hillsdale Avenue East and is “demanding an unaffordable rent increase, seemingly to push them out.”
The store is obviously very popular with the local community. In the middle of a weekday, a reporter had to wait for almost an hour while LeFave waited on customers before she had time for a brief sit-down interview.
And then, most of her comments were devoted to the problems faced by retailers across the city. Mabel’s Fables business has been hurt by the ongoing construction at the corner of Mount Pleasant and Eglinton Avenue East, but it was the shops on the crosstown street that got most of her sympathy.
Money ‘thrown away’
“These poor people, these retailers on Eglinton who have closed and the ones who are still there suffering because of the LRT construction. There’s no support for them,” she said.
She dismissed the recent announcement of the Ontario government giving $3 million to support areas impacted by the Eglinton Crosstown LRT construction since the completion date for the project has been extended. Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney said the money is in addition to previous funding given to BIAs for promotions, parking discounts, window cleaning and local procurement.
“That’s useless,” LeFave said. “All that money is going to go marketing people and media companies. All of us who have been affected by the construction actually need money to pay our bills.”
People who lost their businesses due to the construction or who are still trying to survive need legal help, mental health support, and funds to make their way through the damage that’s taken place, she argued.
The $3 million is not going to bring customers when they can’t park and they can’t even see some of these stores, LeFave said.
“It’s useless money. It’s going to be thrown away to the benefit of the media companies and the marketing companies.”