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New Indie Bookstore Madison Street Books Opens In West Loop

Booksellers Mary Mollman and Javier Ramirez first met while working at a Winnetka book shop eight years ago. Now they're striking out on their own.

Booksellers Mary Mollman, left, and Javier Ramirez, right, have opened Madison Street Books in West Loop.
Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
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WEST LOOP — A new cozy independent bookstore offering a wide array of literature will host a grand opening this weekend in the West Loop.

After announcing plans to open last fall, owners Mary Mollman and Javier Ramirez officially opened Madison Street Books at 1127 W. Madison St. late last month. The shop’s all-day grand opening event Saturday will feature a balloon artist, story hour, toddler jam with Dawn Marie and an evening celebration.

The event kicks off at 10 a.m. and runs until 10 p.m. 

The bookstore aims to be like a cigar shop, Ramirez said — a place where book lovers can not only buy books, but drop in to read and discuss their passion for reading, too.

“We want to be an anchor in the community,” Mollman said. “A place where people can come in and read, and check out the latest books. A spot for parents can bring their children during the day and evenings … A warm, welcoming neighborhood place.”

Credit: Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
Madison Street Books is

The 1,500-square-foot bookstore features a robust fiction section, a broad selection of non-fiction and a children’s corner with a mural from illustrator Diana Sudyka .

The shop’s children’s section aims to cater to diverse families in the growing neighborhood.

They want any child to be able to find “a book with a cover that has faces and people like them,” Mollman said.

Credit: Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
Madison Street Books is located at 1127 W. Madison St. in the West Loop.
Credit: Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
Madison Street Books is located at 1127 W. Madison St. in the West Loop.

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The shop will host events for kids, too, including a children’s pajama story hour and toddler jam hour at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays. The shop aims to partner with Skinner West Elementary School and Whitney Young Magnet Academy High School, Mollman said. 

In-store author conversations, book groups and writing workshops are also planned.

Credit: Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
Madison Street Books is located at 1127 W. Madison St. in the West Loop.

The business partners met while working at the Book Stall in suburban Winnetka eight years ago. 

Ramirez moved from California to Chicago 25 years ago to help open a Tower Records bookstore in Schaumburg. Most recently, Ramirez was a manager at Book Table in Oak Park for six years. Mollman previously worked at Booked, a children’s bookstore in Evanston.

“We reached a point in our careers…that we both realized we were ready to open a bookstore. We fell on the space,” Mollman said.

Mollman and Ramirez said they’ve already received a warm welcome from neighbors and local businesses.

Credit: Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
Madison Street Books is located at 1127 W. Madison St. in the West Loop.

After 25 years selling books, “there’s nothing I would rather do,” Ramirez said. 

Madison Street Books is open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m Sunday.

Credit: Mauricio Peña/ Block Club Chicago
Madison Street Books is located at 1127 W. Madison St. in the West Loop.

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