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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Volumes Bookcafe In Wicker Park Is Closed Indefinitely, But You Can Help By Buying Books Online

"People have been really supportive," co-owner Kimberly George said. "We've had a lot of online sales. I'm overwhelmed."

From left to right, Kimberly George, Chandler White and Rebecca George work at Volumes Bookcafe in Wicker Park in March 2020.
Hannah Alani / Block Club Chicago
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WICKER PARK — A family-owned Wicker Park bookstore known for its community events is closing due to coronavirus.

Volumes Bookcafe, 1474 N. Milwaukee Ave., closed at 5 p.m. Monday.

Owners Rebecca and Kimberly George, who are sisters, were not sure when the book store would reopen.

“It was definitely a tough decision,” Kimberly George said. “We’re hoping people will continue to buy online. We’d like to reopen.”

Customers can order books online and have them shipped directly to their homes for free. They can also order the books and arrange curbside pickup.

Have enough books already? You can also support Volumes by purchasing gift cards or contributing to staffers’ Venmo accounts. Or by buying an audiobook.

“All of that helps,” Kimberly George said.

The George sisters opened Volumes Bookcafe four years ago. In addition to being a bookstore, the shop sells gifts and locally made art work.

Baristas craft coffee, tea, beer and wine beverages while neighbors co-work, utilizing Volumes’ free WiFi, outlets and printer.

Most nights during the week, Volumes is host to an array of community events, from book clubs to author talks to community meetings.

On Monday, however, the chalkboard calendar that normally lists event titles and times was wiped clean. The message, “Reading All Of The Books” was written, instead.

The ambiguity of Volumes’ type of business made Gov. JB Pritzker’s mandate to close bars and restaurants a bit confusing, Rebecca George said.

“The language was vague,” she said. Ultimately, the sisters decided that staying open was just “not worth it,” Rebecca George said.

“We’re not a bar, we’re not a cafe,” Kimberly George said. “We’re a bookstore.”

For Kimberly George, the virus is particularly scary. She is immunosuppressed, and was hospitalized in January.

At this point, she said, her top priorities were the safety of her staff and customers.

“When you have a small business, you compartmentalize your concerns,” she said. “It’s always the business, the staff, the utilities, the vendors. Then you.”

The sisters said they appreciate all the support they’ve received from the Wicker Park community.

“People have been really supportive,” Kimberly George said. “We’ve had a lot of online sales. I’m overwhelmed.”

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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