EDGEWATER — Heirloom Books’ fate was in question after the sudden death of its owner, Chelsea Carr Rectanus. But her friends are throwing a fundraiser to save the beloved local business.
Rectanus, 32, died in early August following a battle with a longstanding illness. Her untimely death devastated her family and the community of locals, fellow bookworms and political activists Rectanus cultivated at Heirloom.
Heirloom, 6239 N. Clark St., has had its future thrown for a loop. But Friends and patrons are determined to keep the shop open as a way of maintaining Rectanus’ impact on the community.
Those friends have launched a GoFundMe for the store.
“We deeply mourn her loss,” Erik Badger, who was Rectanus’ friend and is helping run the store, said on the fundraiser page. “While we cannot get her back, we can work to continue her Heirloom as a legacy of which she would be proud.”
Badger and Erik Graff are running the store on a volunteer basis. A used book shop is not the easiest business to run these days, and friends aren’t sure the business ever really turned a profit.
But it was worth it to Rectanus to have a place where community and conversation were encouraged, said Emily Carter Alexander, her friend.
“I don’t think that the shop was financially viable and I don’t think she cared,” Alexander said. “She liked people coming in to her space and talking with other people.”
Money raised on the GoFundMe will go to expenses like utilities and rent and for supplies like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. More than $3,500 has been raised in two days.
Rectanus opened Heirloom in April 2017, telling a documentary series that she wanted to get out of the hospitality business and pursue her love of literature.
“You gotta make those decisions, just to try,” Rectanus said in the documentary. “So you can say later on in life, ‘I tried. It didn’t work out. But I gave it a go.’”
She built the business into a cozy shop, a warm and welcoming place where hanging out and discussing literature or current events were encouraged.
Rectanus “was a generous listener in a loquacious world,” the GoFundMe reads. “A beautiful, compassionate soul.”
To donate to the GoFundMe, click here.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.