Future of ‘Kim’s Convenience’ store uncertain with building for sale

The building that houses Kim’s Convenience, the store used for the groundbreaking television show of the same name. – is for sale, and there is uncertainty about what a new buyer will do with the property.

For starting price Costing about $3.9 million, the Moss Park area building includes the store used for exterior shots of the television series “Kim’s Convenience,” which centers on a Korean-Canadian family and ran for five seasons on CBC, which ended in the spring of last year. along with a three-bedroom apartment on the second floor.

The listing advertises that this is the first time the entire building has been offered for sale and also mentions that Queen Street East and the surrounding neighborhood is undergoing a transformation and that the building has “potential” for redevelopment.

“It’s a very busy convenience store, because it’s right on the corner of Queen Street,” said Greg Stavros, a real estate agent at 252 Queen St. E., on Seaton Street.

“Every time you go there, especially on weekends, people stop their cars or stop to stand in front of the store and take pictures,” he said.

Stravos said the owner bought the building in 1987 and is looking to move on. He compared the current owner to “King of Kensington,” the 1970s sitcom about the beloved owner of a convenience store in Kensington Market, adding that the owner hopes the next owner of the building will keep the store. .

So far, Stravos has received about 50 inquiries since it put the building up for sale a few months ago. They recently began advertising their availability, which has led to more calls, he said.

And potential buyers have made calls about the property around the world, indicating its popularity, he said.

Stravos noted the large vacant lot in front of the building that has been designed for three condominium towers.

According to City of Toronto records, 252 Queen St. E. has been listed as a heritage property since December 2020 and was identified as part of 2019 Review of the King-Parliament Secondary Plan by the city that was created to find and evaluate the historical spaces of the neighborhood.

Heritage buildings in the area have been torn down before, with much backlash, including an 1886 building at 267 Queen St. E., which was torn down in 2013.

The convenience store inside is legit and was recreated inside a studio to film “Kim’s Convenience,” which first aired in October 2016. While the show was critically acclaimed and popular in Canada, it reached a new level of fanfare when released. on streaming platforms in 2018 and appeared on screens around the world.

When the show premiered, Star interviewed store owners Yong and Kyung Chung and the coverage mentioned that if the show was a hit, there might be “‘Seinfeld’like bus tours in Toronto to find the real store that is modeled after ‘Kim’s Convenience.’”

That prediction came true to some extent, as hundreds of Instagram posts show tourists and residents outside the store deciding to visit.

Angie Min Ah Park, a doctoral candidate at York University whose research focuses on the Korean diaspora, said the brick-and-mortar Kim’s Convenience store has symbolic and structural importance to Toronto.

The store is a landmark that “celebrates the diversity of Toronto, the struggles and achievements of immigrant entrepreneurs and small business owners in the city, and the history and culture of Korean communities in Canada,” he explained.

From the store’s green and red sign to the hallways that were recreated on the show, it’s all very familiar to “Kim’s Convenience” residents and viewers, he said.

Kim’s is also the first Canadian prime-time television sitcom to focus on an Asian family and feature Asian actors, Park said. She points out that prior to the sitcom’s production, the grocery story was called Mimi Variety and was owned by a Korean Canadian family for nearly 30 years.

Heritage designation must go beyond a building’s age, as its cultural significance must also be considered, he said.

“Many Korean tourists and residents take pictures outside of Kim’s, because it represents the inclusion of their ethnic community and culture that has been rare in mainstream Canadian society,” he said.

Canadians feel an emotional attachment to the store as it represents the communities they come from, with many stores managed and owned by immigrants, Park said, explaining why the store should stay.

“The physical store symbolizes feelings of acceptance and pride,” he said.


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