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Indigo Books & Music Inc., known as "Indigo" and stylized "!ndigo", is a Canadian bookstore chain. It is Canada's largest book, gift, and specialty toy retailer, operating stores in all ten provinces and one territory, and through a website offering a selection of books, toys, home décor, stationery, and gifts. Most Chapters and Indigo stores include a Starbucks café inside. Contrary to its name, Indigo Books and Music does not sell music as part of its core retail offerings.
The company was founded in 1996 by CEO Heather Reisman, who is married to Gerry Schwartz, majority owner and CEO of Onex Corporation. The company's first big box bookstore, initially called "Indigo Books, Music & More", was opened in Burlington, Ontario on September 4, 1997. With financing from Onex Corporation, Indigo bought Chapters, their largest Canadian competitor, in 2001 and continues to operate many stores under the Chapters banner. Indigo also gained the ownership of the Coles chain of small-format bookstores, which was also owned by Chapters. Indigo closed three high-profile stores in Toronto in the spring of 2014, including the World's Biggest Bookstore, which it acquired when it bought Chapters. In June 2014, Reisman said the company was headed into a new phase, selling a much higher percentage of non-book items. In late 2017, it was announced that it would expand to the United States, with its first location opening in The Mall at Short Hills in October 2018.
At the end of its fiscal year in March 2018, the company reported a record annual revenue surpassing CAD $1 billion. As of July 1, 2017, the company operated 86 superstores under the banners Chapters and Indigo and 123 small format stores, under the banners Coles, Indigospirit, and The Book Company. Indigo is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario and employed more than 7,000 people throughout Canada.
A mother is in disbelief after her 15-year-old daughter was denied entry to a Chapters-Indigo store in London, Ont., on Friday because she was not wearing a mask even though her daughter's disabilities make her exempt from provincial masking regulations and recommendations. "These stringent protocols leave kids like mine left out, and it happens far too often," said Casey Renneboog, whose daughter Hailey uses a wheelchair and has a number of severe physical challenges. She's non verbal, prone to seizures and Casey says Hailey has the cognitive abilities of a two year old. On Friday, Hailey was taken by her personal support worker to the Indigo bookstore's Masonville location in north London. The plan was to buy a book and enjoy the day off from school during a professional development day for teachers. But when they arrived at the store, staff told Hailey's support worker that Hailey could not be admitted without a mask due to the store's COVID-19 protocols.
The Indigo/Chapters chain has been criticized over what some perceive as a virtual monopoly over retail-based book sales in Canada. In 2002, the company strongly opposed the entry of Amazon into the Canadian marketplace with accusations the U.S.-based company was skirting regulations about foreign ownership of Canadian booksellers. Indigo's expansion has been blamed, among other factors, for the financial difficulties of some independent booksellers in Canada. In particular, its rise coincided with the bankruptcy of Lichtman's, once Canada's largest independent bookseller.