While a deal has been reached to save Priape’s flagship store in Montreal, the gay retailer’s Vancouver doors will remain permanently closed, its former local manager confirms.
Denis Leblanc, who was the general manager of the Montreal store, says he and an investor from New York bought the bankrupt company’s Montreal store with approval from a majority of creditors and the Quebec Superior Court on Oct 30.
However, Leblanc did not purchase the other three Priape stores, in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.
“To purchase one store is probably enough,” says now-former Priape Vancouver store manager Del Stamp. He doesn’t know why the Vancouver store was not part of the deal but surmises the new owners did not have the budget to buy all four locations. “They’re basically starting from scratch.”
Stamp declined to comment on the source of the company’s debt, stating the Vancouver store had met or exceeded all its sales goals since he took management three years ago.
However, he did confirm that Health Canada’s prohibition on the sale and distribution of “poppers,” or alkyl nitrites, in June did have a negative impact on the store’s revenues.
Bankruptcy documents filed in Quebec Superior Court on June 27 — the same week as the Health Canada announcement — state Priape owed $687,650.30 to 106 creditors, including Xtra’s parent company, Pink Triangle Press, most of which would have accrued well before the Health Canada prohibition.
Heartbroken by the loss of not just a job but also a community space, Stamp is now tasked with shipping the store’s Vancouver inventory back to Montreal, where he presumes it will stock the reopened store in that city.
Stamp is one of nine Vancouver staff members now without jobs. He says he still hasn’t processed what happened.
“Losing your job is never easy — especially a job that you love,” he says.
His biggest concern has been for his staff, some of whom have been jobless since Oct 21 when creditors showed up at the store, demanding he turn over his keys.
Andrew Laitien is looking for a new job now after working full-time at the store for a year.
“Yeah, I’m just getting started now, putting resumés out,” he says. “I’m looking for anything with people, customer service.”
Stamp does not fear imminent financial woes because he, like most of the former employees, has another gig to support him.
Still, he’ll miss the store’s “neighbourhood barbershop” feel.
“When I worked my shifts there, no one I knew would just walk by without stopping in,” he says.
Adam Genge, bartender at the PumpJack Pub across the street and an employee of Priape for a year and a half, says the store was an especially important hub for the fetish community.
“I always looked forward to those Thursday and Friday mornings when I worked,” Genge says. “You never knew what was going to walk through the door. Every day was a new adventure.”
Since opening in 2005, the Vancouver store had become a fixture in the Davie Village, carrying a variety of clothing, leather, sex toys, DVDs, books and other products that appealed to gay consumers.
Customers outside Quebec can continue to buy products online at priape.com.