WICKER PARK — Semicolon Bookstore and Gallery is now calling Wicker Park home.
The popular Black-woman-owned shop opens Saturday at 1714 W. Division St. in a space four times larger than its previous storefront in River West.
The space “means we have four times the books, and it just feels good, it feels free, it feels open, and that’s what we’re going for,” said owner Danielle Mullen. “It also feels very homey. You walk in and you just want to sit down, and that’s also what we’re going for.”
Since opening in 2019, Semicolon has showcased authors of color and work by local street artists. Its previous store on Halsted Street near Milwaukee Avenue was lined with murals and other artwork.
Ultimately, the new store will feature seven original murals, each developed around a theme of reading and empowerment.
The space also includes an expanded children’s room, art gallery and coffee shop.
Mullen said the children’s room is an extension of the store’s Clear the Shelves campaign, which has donated thousands of dollars to support literacy programs at Chicago Public Schools.
“It’s important that they get their literacy rates up so that they become avid adult readers and teenage readers,” she said. “It starts here. It starts with creating a space that feels fun for them, that’s actually also surrounding them with books.”
Semicolon’s gallery will feature an artist every month who will design a limited edition T-shirt and bookmark for the store. Mullen said she wants to expand beyond street art to include photographers and other mediums.
“We reach out to people if we see some cool things, but we have a ton of people who come to us, and we just kind of sift through it and decide. Every month has a different representation,” she said.
Semicolon’s popularity skyrocketed last year after social justice protests. The success fueled Mullen’s relocation to Wicker Park — and she’s now eyeing even further expansion.
“For us here, it’s just to be known as an entity here in Wicker Park. We are in this space for the next 10 years. And I don’t want to move,” she said. “Also, it’s about time for us to start branching out into other cities. And so we’re working on that, too.”
Semicolon plans to host readings and book signings in the store, including one in November with actor Will Smith for his memoir.
The store will be open Tuesday-Sunday, with exact hours still being determined.
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