LOGAN SQUARE — A literacy nonprofit is opening a bookstore in Logan Square.
Open Books is taking over an old furniture store at 2068 N. Milwaukee Ave., Executive Director Eric Johnson said. The goal is to open the store in the spring after making renovations to the 4,500-square-foot space, Johnson said.
When the Logan Square shop opens, it will be the nonprofit’s third brick-and-mortar location. Open Books has stores in the West Loop at 651 W. Lake St. and in Pilsen at 905 W. 19th St., each packed with a curated selection of donated books. Sales support the nonprofit’s literacy programs for kids and students.
The group opened a pop-up store in West Town over the holidays as well.
Open Books leaders did research on their customers and donors and found Logan Square is home to a large number of their supporters, making it a natural location for their third store, Johnson said.
The Open Books team also went with Logan Square because bookstores are scarce in the neighborhood compared to nearby areas, he said.
“Once you leave Wicker Park/Bucktown and travel northwest, there’s simply a lack of stores,” Johnson said. “That said to us that this is a real opportunity to add value to a community that we already love and and [where] we already have a strong base and support.”
Open Books was founded in 2006 to boost literacy among Chicago children and families through reading and writing workshops and book grants for underserved schools and nonprofit partners.
The nonprofit opened its first store in 2009 in River North, which later moved to the West Loop. It opened a second store and warehouse in Pilsen.
Open Books can open a third retail store because the nonprofit has seen success over the past several years, before and during the pandemic, Johnson said. The business has low overhead because it brings in donated books, and the demand for books, especially from independent sellers, remains high, he said.
Open Books has been able to weather the pandemic through steady book sales and by launching curbside pickup and pop-up book stores, including one in West Town and a pay-what-you-can iteration in North Lawndale, Johnson said.
Now, the Open Books team is focused on getting the Logan Square up and running. It will be similar in size to the West Loop store, the nonprofit’s flagship location.
The Logan Square shop will sell used and new books at reasonable prices and function as a depository for book donations, like the other two Open Books locations. Customers will be encouraged to drop off new and used books they no longer want.
With the Logan Square store, Johnson said the team hopes to further their mission of transforming students’ reading and writing skills and spreading literacy.
“Every dollar spent not only satisfies their own curiosity, but they’re also putting money toward making that possible for countless Chicagoans who don’t necessarily have that opportunity,” Johnson said.
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