LOGAN SQUARE — City Lit Books, an independent bookstore that closed over the winter due to the coronavirus pandemic, is reopening next month.
Logan Square resident and former librarian Stephanie Kitchen is taking over the neighborhood staple at 2523 N. Kedzie Blvd. Kitchen and City Lit’s founder, Teresa Kirschbraun, made the announcement in a joint news release Wednesday evening.
The new City Lit opens June 19.
“When Teresa announced her plans to close, I reached out to her to see if there was a way we could continue City Lit’s legacy. It all has unfolded quite serendipitously,” Kitchen said in the statement.
“The pandemic has also taught me the importance of community — which is why I am so eager to reopen City Lit Books, to welcome the community back, and to continue to offer a place of wonder, connection and discovery.”
The announcement comes about eight months after Kirschbraun made City Lit’s closure public. Despite seeing some success with online sales, Kirschbraun said she couldn’t afford to keep the store open any longer after months of declining revenue. Many neighbors who had come to depend on the 8-year-old book store were crushed by the news.
“I have chosen to operate this business through some pretty difficult times and barely breaking even because engaging with the community was so exciting and enjoyable every day,” Kirschbraun said in October. “Now, in the time of the pandemic, we have been reduced to an order fulfillment business with precious little customer interaction. … Supporting an order fulfillment center is simply not sustainable, financially or emotionally.”
But after the announcement, Kirschbraun received an outpouring of support, not just from people in Logan Square but people throughout the United States and in other countries, she said. One of those people was Kitchen.
Kitchen worked at new and used bookstores for several years before becoming a librarian within the Chicago Public Libraries system, a job she’s held for the past 13 years.
With City Lit, Kitchen is fulfilling a long-held dream to open a bookstore of her own, she said in the statement.
Ahead of the opening, as Kitchen buys inventory and “refreshes” the displays, neighbors can support the City Lit by placing orders online through Bookshop. Books will be shipped directly to peoples’ homes.
“I am thrilled that Stephanie will be the new caretaker of City Lit! She is so well-prepared and it’s great that she lives in the neighborhood,” Kirschbraun said in the release.
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