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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Volumes Bookcafe Will Permanently Return To Wicker Park This Spring, A Year After Leaving Original Storefront

The sisters who own the store said their new mortgage payment is less than half of what they were paying in rent at the old storefront — even though it's just down the street.

The future home of Volumes Bookcafe's latest location, 1373 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park
Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
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WICKER PARK — Volumes Bookcafe is reopening on Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park this spring.

The beloved indie bookstore and cafe will open at 1373 N. Milwaukee Ave., likely by May, co-owner Rebecca George said.

That storefront has been operating as a Volumes pop-up location since last year. George and her sister Kimberly closed on the location Thursday.

Volumes first opened in 2016 at 1474 N. Milwaukee Ave, where the George sisters hosted frequent author events, readings, game nights and open mics.

Before the pandemic, the Volumes cafe also served coffee, tea, beer and wine.

But after five years in business, the George sisters chose last year not to renew their lease, citing “epic losses” during the pandemic and high rent along Wicker Park’s Milwaukee Avenue business corridor.

Rebecca George said since closing last year, the sisters have been focused on finding a property to buy in Wicker Park. She said their new mortgage payment is less than half of what they were paying in rent at the old storefront.

Volumes partnered with a group of neighborhood residents and supporters to buy the first floor of the building, and worked with First Women’s Bank to secure financing, George said.

The Georges expect to open the new Volumes location by May, depending on when new bookshelves arrive, which have been delayed due to supply chain issues.

“We don’t have to do an insane amount of work. We need to put in new the floors, and we need to move in our stuff, but it’s insane amount of stuff. It’s just those shelves take eight to ten weeks,” Rebecca George said.

George said the store is still raising funds through its ongoing GoFundMe to cover renovation and reopening costs.

Like the old storefront, the new space will feature a cafe with signature literary-themed drinks.

Volumes Bookcafe’s original location at 1474 N. Milwaukee Ave., which closed in 2021.

Volumes also operates a store at 900 N. Michigan Ave., and offered book pick-ups and online orders throughout the pandemic.

But the store’s heart is, and always will be, in Wicker Park, George said.

“I’ve lived here for the most part, most of my adult life, which is longer than people think,” she said.

“I don’t even think of it as us building that bookstore to begin with. The community helped build that, just in spirit and in friendship in coming out and supporting. So if I were to move it, I feel like that’d be a slap in the face…everyone’s still invested in us.”

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