Issues Magazine Shop Opens 1st Store in Toronto Amid Demand for Physical Copies [Interview]

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Issues just opened its doors on July 13th in Toronto – making it easier for magazine lovers to find their next reads as until now, finding independent worldwide magazines has been a challenge. 

Nicola Hamilton, a graphic designer and art director of a variety of magazines, noticed a gap in magazine retail and decided to open up her own shop Issues Magazine Shop. Customers can find independent and hard to find magazines from all over the world. The store currently has 200 covers and is growing daily. 

Nicola Hamilton

“When I travel, I seek out independent magazine stores: Casa Magazines in New York City, Under the Cover in Lisbon, MagCulture in London,” says Hamilton. “I always wondered why we didn’t have anything comparable. I assumed it would happen in time, but it never did — so here I am.”

Issues is located at 1489 Dundas Street in Toronto and has 300 square feet of retail space. Customers who do not live in Toronto but would be interested in its magazines are still in luck as the store offers shipping throughout Canada. 

Surprising Demographics 

Issues Magazine Shop (Image: Justin Ming Yong)

Hamilton expected her customers to be folks in their late 20s, 30s and 40s working in the creative industries. That’s been true, but Issues has seen a wide range of demographics.

“It’s been all over the map. We are seeing the creative folks — photographers, illustrators, writers and designers — but we’re also seeing older and younger demographics excited to flip through printed magazines. The younger folks might not have been exposed to many of these titles before. They’re thrilled to see it, discover it, and to feel the magazines.”

“Many more magazines to come” 

Hamilton said its main goal right now is to expand its magazine covers to about 600. 

Future plans include using the retail space to host events and workshops geared towards building community and supporting the independent magazine landscape in Canada — in hopes of stocking more Canada titles in the years to come.

The first month of being open has been extremely successful and Hamilton said exceeded her own expectations. 

“We have exceeded my early projections. This first month has been really affirming. I speculated that there were more people like me out there, with an appetite for print media, and so far that appears to be true. A couple of times a day folks come in and thank us for existing. It’s sweet, but also an indicator that there was a hole in the market.”

The store is designed to look like an art gallery but feel like a record store. The goal is to have give customers the sense that they can linger and browse. They’re invited to sit down, thumb through the titles, and chat with our staff about their favourite magazines. If customers can’t find what they’re looking for, Hamilton encourages them to ask about them. They’re committed to investigating most client requests.

“Customers are encouraged to linger, to browse, to take a seat back and look at things, or to chat to us about magazines that you are familiar or unfamiliar to you. I want to see our inventory evolve and to grow to have many more magazines to offer to the community.” 

To get the community introduced to its products, Issues will also be at The Word on the Street pop-up event at Evergreen Brick Works at the end of September. 

Article Author

Shelby Hautala
Shelby Hautala
Shelby Hautala, based in Toronto, is a new Journalist to Retail Insider. She has experience writing for local newspapers and also internationally for Helsinki Times while she lived in Finland. Shelby holds a Bachelor of Journalism Honours degree from the University of King’s College and a Social Work degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax.

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