A New Wicker Park Bookstore A Block From Myopic Is Opening Soon

By Mae Rice in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 11, 2016 8:55PM

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Volumes Bookcafe's exterior (via IndieGogo)

A new bookstore-slash-coffeeshop-slash-also-they’ll-have-brandy is on the cusp of opening in Wicker Park. Volumes Bookstore is hiring booksellers and baristas at this point, promising “big discounts on books and... lots of access to coffee!” Their signage, pictured above, is in place. They’re just waiting on some final approvals from the city.

“We’re hoping [to open] in the next four weeks,” co-owner Rebecca George told Chicagoist. “It’s really dependent on some inspections… that the city is taking forever on.”

Soon, though, Wicker Park will have another major bookstore. Located at 1474 N. Milwaukee Ave., in the storefront once occupied by used-clothing boutique Recycle, Volumes will be a block from Myopic Books and walking distance from Quimby’s.

George doesn’t see that as a problem.

“They’re so niche,” she said of the nearby bookstores. “They’re not going to have the new Harry Potter book that’s coming out.”

Myopic, George noted, specializes in used books; Quimby’s emphasizes zines and DIY publications.

Of Myopic, George added, “They don’t select their books, whereas we get to select from catalogs… We know what’s coming out before anybody else does."

According to George, several local bookstores and literary establishments—including Quimby’s—have been supportive of the Volumes project, which George co-owns with her sister, Kimberly.

George said she hopes that with the addition of Volumes, Wicker Park can become “kind of… a mecca of literary fun.”

We reached out to Quimby's and Myopic, but no one was available for comment.

The plans for Volumes do sound unusual for Wicker Park. The store will serve Metropolis coffee and Dollop baked goods in house, George said. The first “30-something feet,” when you enter, will look more like a coffee shop, George said, “and then the rest is a bookstore” selling 95 percent new books.

“Only about 5 percent is used,” George said. “That’s Myopic’s wheelhouse… [but] if someone brings ‘em in, great.”

The house coffee shop will have adult beverages along with regular drip: beer from small local breweries, wine, brandy, and ciders. “No liquor,” George said.

(Coffee shops serving beer could be trending all over Wicker Park soon; the closest Starbucks also has plans to start serving craft beer and wine.)

Volumes' space will also serve as an event hub for author readings and more. “I’m kind of a quirky person,” George said “so I kind of want to do some fun flash fiction readings, some comedy readings. We also want to do a Scrabble league."

Volumes has been in the works for the past two years, since George decided, at the last minute, not to get a PhD. Instead, she decided to open a bookstore in Wicker Park, where she has lived for most of the past 12 years. (“There were a couple years where I cheated and lived in Lakeview,” she said.)

She and her sister started by choosing the storefront. It’s in a building built in 1883, which translates into beautiful vintage tin ceilings, George said—and also a lot of unexpected refurbishing costs.

“We had a contingency fund,” she explained, but the costs of updating their space overwhelmed it, hence their IndieGogo campaign (now closed) that they ran to fund a second HVAC and and an update to the building’s water line.

“We've been working on this store for several years now,” says their IndieGogo campaign. “We've put our blood, sweat, tears and life savings to get to this point.”

Now, though that campaign reached just under half of its funding goals, they’ve gotten even further. Knock on wood, opening day is just around the corner.