Projected new plaza redevelopment may change the iconic storefront at 420 Bathurst
By Richard Frankel
Another historic Toronto business is closing after more than five decades of operation.
Large black block letters on a yellow background read “Retirement Sale Everything Must Go.” Other signs read “Store Closing Sale” and cover the storefront windows facing Bathurst Street as Kromer Radio, a family owned company of car radio installation and electronic sales, sets to close indefinitely on June 30.
“It’s time. It’s better to go out on top,” said Mark Stoakes, Kromer’s general manager, who has been working there for more than 30 years.
Stoakes said the owner Paul Kromer, who is retiring, has been involved since the store’s inception.
“He’s getting a little older and he’s been doing it for 55 years and I’ve been doing it for 33,” he said. “We’re tired so we’re just going to take some time and take it easy.”
The Kromer Radio property, along with two auto body shops and a supply warehouse between 410 and 444 Bathurst Street, were purchased last year by real estate developer RioCan for $8 million Canadian. They plan to build a 139,000 square foot, three-storey retail development at the site. But the proposal been met with vocal opposition from nearby Business Improvement Areas, Residents Associations and outspoken local residents.
On May 30, a motion by the City’s Committee of Adjustment also refused the company the right to demolish the existing buildings for now. It is expected that RioCan will appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.
Stoakes said many of the store’s regular customers are upset by the closing.
“I’ve been getting a lot of emails and phone calls,” he said. “A lot of people are pretty sad to hear that we’re closing and there’s a lot of customers that we’re dealing with that go three generations deep. It’s been a tradition. When they need their electronics, they come to Kromer.”
Paul Kromer opened the first store in 1957 on Harbord Street. Back then, the focus of the company was exclusively on car radio installation. Kromer’s reputation grew and by 1974, they moved to 420 Bathurst Street where they began selling electronics, including televisions and home audio equipment.