Evanston Indie bookstore flips ‘You’ve Got Mail’ narrative | Reel Chicago

The new Bookends & Beginnings at 1716 Sherman Avenue, Evanston.

When Nina Barrett opened a new branch of her impartial bookstore Bookends & Beginnings on the main business street of downtown Evanston this weekend, she defied the trend of little-company collapse in the time of COVID. She also reversed the narrative arc of the well known 90s rom-com—You have Received Mail—in which an intense new chain bookstore drove a beloved indie retailer out of business enterprise.

The new department expands her 6-year-outdated bookstore with an additional 900 square feet of retail house. The new storefront also gains her outstanding visibility on one particular of Evanston’sprime downtown purchasing streets—just 50 percent a block absent from wherever a significant Barnes & Noble, her previous chain-store competitor, vacated its place a couple months ago.

Each Barrett’s primary store and the close by Barnes & Noble ended up pressured to shut down for many months in the spring of 2020 all through the initially COVID lockdown. “I wasn’t absolutely sure if we had been likely to pull by,” mentioned Barrett.

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Many thanks to a PPP personal loan, a profitable GoFundMe marketing campaign, and sturdy on the web buying by her clients on the store’s web page, the retail outlet did pull via, and was in a position to re-open up for stroll-in business enterprise in July. Then the retailer skilled the very best getaway season in its historical past.

By contrast, the Barnes & Noble shop permanently closed its close by locale.

“Our community stepped up to save us,” Barrett reported. “We did a lot of messaging to say that if you worth the existence of a organization in your local community, you need to vote for its survival with your expending pounds. And it worked.”

The rustic interior of the original Bookends & Beginnings store, located in an old garage in an alley in downtown Evanston.
The rustic interior of the first Bookends & Beginnings store, positioned in an outdated garage in an alley in downtown Evanston.

Barrett’s new house at 1716 Sherman will now grow to be Bookends & Beginnings’ reward and stationery boutique, that includes literary-themed present objects, cards and stationery, and a range of locally-targeted textbooks. 

“There’s a cynical perception out there that indie bookstores are doomed due to the fact they don’t—and can’t—offer the identical sorts of discount rates as their monster-sized competition,” Barrett stated. “But the good thing is there are expanding figures of customers who comprehend that the price they get by paying out complete address rate for a e-book consists of a large amount of things they can not get from an impersonal chain shop or from Amazon.” 

In its 6 a long time of procedure, Bookends & Beginnings has develop into a neighborhood hub. The store’s wide and eclectic variety, along with its creator gatherings (now done almost), and dedicated employees, have earned it comparisons to field legends such as Town Lights and Powell’s. 

The evident reverse parallel to You’ve Bought Mail is not shed on Barrett, whose primary store is pretty much about the corner from the former B&N. 

“We’re nonetheless doing what the fictional operator of The Shop Around the Corner was accomplishing so wonderfully in that motion picture 22 many years back,” Barrett reported. “Reading tales to children. Launching community authors’ books. Handing our consumers publications we know they’ll appreciate, simply because we know each the publications and the prospects.”

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