Is This Queen West Shop Copying Its Neighbour?
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Is This Queen West Shop Copying Its Neighbour?

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So they say.

Photo by Maureen from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

Photo by Maureen from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

Two neighbouring shops on Queen West are caught up in a very weird legal dispute, the Toronto Star reports. A spirited dispute.

Kristen Voisey, owner of the cocktail emporium BYOB, at 972 Queen Street West, has sued Steve Tracey, who owns Organic Boutique, at 970 Queen Street West.

Her allegation? That he is trying to pass off his store as hers.

Both shops sell bitters, syrups, and bar accessories such as glassware.

In the lawsuit, Voisey alleges:

  • that, in 2013, Organic Boutique starting selling similar and identical products to her store;
  • that Organic Boutique’s storefront was altered to look like her store—by painting over Organic Boutique’s signs and designing window displays to resemble those at her store; and
  • that Tracey put signs up reading “Y.O.B. Inc.” as well news articles about BYOB in his store window.

Tracey told the Star that Voisey copied him.

“We were here before this neighbourhood was cool,” he said, echoing hipsters everywhere.

Of course, things get even more bizarre. Voisey alleges that Tracey accused her of “engaging in sexual acts” with her landlord, according to the Star. While he was in her store and while there were customers present.

Tracey fires back: Apparently he has a photo on his phone of a message he found written in lipstick on his store window two years ago. It reads: “You are a dick. Buy bitters at BYOB.”

Voisey denies she wrote it.

Things are always easier when you get along with your neighbours. But, as anyone who lives or works beside another human being knows, that’s not always possible.

Regardless of the outcome of this lawsuit, the relationship between these two storeowners is likely beyond repair.

In the meantime, Voisey has painted her store pink to distinguish it from Organic Boutique.

“I am just trying to run my business, and having someone spend their entire being trying to steal it is soul crushing,” she said.