A record store owner in Montreal's Mile End neighbourhood says he may have to close because of hefty fines from the provincial government for staying open past the legal closing time last year.
"This is the kind of thing that will kill our store for sure, and will also kill other small record stores that are probably facing the same problem," said Jordan Robson-Cramer, owner of Phonopolis on Bernard Street.
"This would be the nail that seals the coffin, for sure."
The fines date back to April 2019 and it wasn't just Phonopolis that was targeted.
That's when four stores, including Sonorama, La Rama and Death of Vinyl, were visited by an inspector from the provincial Economy and Innovation Ministry and all were given notices saying they were open after 5 p.m.
The inspection took place on Record Store Day, an annual event when independent stores around the world sell exclusive pressings and put on other events.
The fines, issued by the Justice Ministry, arrived in December and Robson-Cramer was hoping the penalty would be dropped given the toll the pandemic had taken on his business.
"Our store is such a size that it's only really safe to let two people in at a time, in order to respect the distance," he said.
"We're trying to do enough record sales month to month just to pay our rent, which we're short on all the time."
The city eventually changed the rules around hours for shops like his. Despite that, and the hardships of the pandemic, Phonopolis is still on the hook for nearly $3,000.
"It seems as if they still have the bureaucracy to prosecute," Robson-Cramer said.
"I'm just questioning the logic in continuing the pursuit of these fines."
Robson-Cramer contested the fines with the hope that they would be dropped, but he recently received a letter with a court date to plead his case.
The Economy and Innovation Ministry did not return a request for comment.