Volumes Bookstore begins new chapter in Gold Coast
by Doug Rapp
A popular Wicker Park bookstore has opened a second location at 900 North Michigan Shops in the Gold Coast. Rebecca George, who co-owns Volume Books with her sister Kimberly, said they were approached by the six-level shopping destination after they had a successful pop-up store at Water Tower Place during the 2018 holidays.
“They recognized that most of their clientele were more local and how they can serve the needs of that local community in a more effective way…I think our missions align a little bit,” George said
A former educator, George said the response to Volumes’ new downtown location, which opened in late September, has been positive.
“Everyone’s very thankful that there’s a bookstore nearby,” she said. “We already have a number of regulars we see on a weekly basis.”
Similar to their original location, the new Volumes will feature supplemental programming. George said they’re hosting weekly story time and may branch out beyond their fifth-floor location to do events in the Aster Hall space on the fifth and sixth floors. She added that they’re starting a happy hour book club next month and another afternoon book club catering to retirees living nearby.
George said they will host author events as well, including mystery/thriller writers in late March. John F. Hogan, who wrote a history of the Chicago Water Tower, spoke in December but bad weather hampered attendance, so they may reschedule that, George said.
“We’ve got lots of plans in the works,” she said, noting that 900 N. Michigan wants more programming for community building. “We’re just now getting into the programming aspect and what we hope to build over there.”
George said it is challenging to open a bookstore these days downtown.
“It’s like any bookstore—it’s a tough margin business, it’s a small margin business,” she said.
George said joining the established 900 North Michigan Shops makes it easier.
“No bookstore in today’s world could open ground level downtown,” she said. “It’s impossible. The cost is too insane anywhere in downtown Chicago…The trouble with being downtown right there is that in a vertical world, everyone’s really contained especially in the cold months.”
George said they’re hoping to reach out to businesses and hotels in the area to raise awareness and are considering a delivery service for customers with limited mobility. Despite the challenges of opening a new location, George said she’s pleased with what she, her sister and their employees have established.
“I really enjoy that community,” she said. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of really interesting people. I’m excited for what we can get done there in the world of books.”