Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Remembering A-AA-ABA Books

It was a sad day when A-AA-ABA Books in Victoria BC closed for good.  Some stores achieve greatness by fostering a pleasant environment and excellent customer service.  But sometimes a store achieves greatness by breaking all the rules. A-AA-ABA Books fit firmly into the latter category.

It was located in a dingy though admittedly huge basement of some building. It would be closed at unusual times (all day Wednesday if memory serves).  It was off the beaten path, on Quadra a few blocks north of the main commercial area.

The owner was known to brag about having sex with some of the models in the large Playboy collection he was selling. He and other staff were known to get mad at customers for minor reasons like not putting books back right; he would even yell at repeat customers if they ticked him off.

While he later sold comics for 50c, at first if you asked him the price of comics, even if you wanted to get a large number at once,  he would open a price guide and start writing in current prices (in pencil, in fairness to him).

Such was his attitude that it was rare to see other customers there. The store was perpetually for sale; it was rumoured that he wanted a million for it in 1990s prices.  And yet… the store actually stayed around, still for sale, for many years.  Someone it survived until someone finally bought the place (though not for books).

I stopped going there after he blew up at me and even passed on those 50c comics, but even so it was someone exciting to see a store remain open for years when all logic said it shouldn’t have lasted a single year. When the store closed, a true Victoria legend died.

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