So-Low Sales shutting down after nearly 30 years
By Mark Newman, News Staff
Pedestrians stopped and stared as soon as the store closing sign went up on Monday morning.
After nearly 30 years on Concession Street So-Low Sales is closing its doors.
“We’ve made a deal to sell the building,” said Elliott Raphael, who along with his wife of 44 years Eva, opened the discount store on Aug. 14, 1984. “We will close the store down near the end of June if not a little before.”
Raphael, who has been asked to keep details of the sale confidential by the buyer, said the hours leading up to the Monday morning announcement were tough for the couple.
“(Sunday) night was a very difficult night for Eva and myself, " Raphael said. “We sat and we talked for a few hours and cried for a bit and then talked a little more.”
Raphael said a combination of a changing economy, the fact that he and his wife are both 67 and the effects of the surgery to remove a fistula in his brain several years ago were all factors in the couple’s decision to put the property, which consists of two separate buildings, on the market last year.
“There are days I just couldn’t handle the pressure and handle what was going on,” said Raphael, who has also had his differences with the Concession Street Business Improvement Area over the last few years.
The long-time west end resident and Westdale graduate said he was working in real estate sales in the 80s when he checked out a sidewalk sale on Locke Street and got interested in retail sales.
Raphael said he searched across the city for a location until he saw a for rent sign in a vacant space that previously housed Opies Meats and another meat store on Concession Street in July 1984.
He later purchased the building and the one next door.
“I liked the look of street, I liked what was happening up here, the amount of people who were walking around,” he said.
The couple decided to name the store So-Low Sales after using the first letter of the names of their two daughters.
“S forShari and L for Laura,” Raphael said.
Raphael said they put up a big yellow and red sign (the colour of discount stores) when they opened and a year or two later, following some renovations, the front of the store was painted its current landmark yellow and a large panel of flashing lights was added.
While the lights are still on, they stopped flashing more than a year ago.
Raphael said they were unable to find the electronic part needed to keep the lights flashing.
Now it’s a matter of selling off their inventory, much of which will be discounted, Raphael said.
Once the store closes, the couple is planning to take a month or so off and then possibly embark on another retail adventure elsewhere in the city.
“I’ll be doing something, I’m just not sure what it’s going to be,” Raphael said.