By ALAN SHACKLETON
Tex Thomas has been running Pro League Sports on Queen Street East in the Beach for more than 30 years, and he would like to continue doing so.
However, his business is facing an upcoming challenge as the building his store has called home since he first opened up in 1991 will be undergoing major construction work as an addition is put on.
The upcoming construction means the building will no longer be usable for the lengthy period of time it will take to do the work and into the future. The situation has put Thomas in a position in which he will have to move his store to another location or close the business for good.
An area resident, Thomas said closing up after more than three decades in the community is not something he wants to do.
“We’re looking for a new site and want to stay in this neighbourhood. I want to stay and remain a part of the neighbourhood,” he told Beach Metro Community News in an interview at the store on Monday of this week.
Thomas is hoping to find a new location along Queen Street East in the Beach, but it will have to be one that meets his business’ needs and the amount of rent he used to paying. His move must be completed by the end of this July as that is when construction work at his current building at 1957 Queen St. E. (just east of Kenilworth Avenue) is set to begin.
Thomas stressed that the move from his current location is in no way a landlord dispute, but just the reality of the building about to be used for a different purpose.
“It’s an addition to the building and I just can’t have the space anymore,” he said. “I do have a new landlord but it has been just fine with them. It’s not just the store, the tenants above have to go as well.”
Thomas said the building was sold two years ago, and the new owner/landlord has been “respectful” of him and his business.
Since he first opened Pro League Sports in October of 1991, Thomas and the business have become deeply connected to the Beach community.
“I’ve been here for 32 years and you really get to know the customers well,” he said. “Last week a mom came in with her kids and with her dad to get something for his 75th birthday. She used to go Kew Beach school and came here to shop when she was younger. We see lots of people who used to come here with their parents and now come in with their own kids.”
Thomas said the stress of trying to find a new location that suits his needs and the uncertainty of what might become of his business is very stressful.
“It’s hard on me right now. This is a tough haul to have to move after so long,” he said.
“I’m hoping something will happen that we can continue to stay here in the area. I feel I’m not just a business in the Beach but that it’s my friends who come to the store. And it’s not just about keeping the store, it’s about the community and the people you get to know.”
Thomas pointed out that the people who work in the store are all neighbourhood residents. He himself lives in the area.
Thomas can be contacted through Pro League Sports at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 416-699-2097.
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