Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Volumes Bookcafe - Chicago, IL

Volumes Bookcafe, Chicago, IL
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Opening an independent bookstore is not for the faint of heart.  There is an incredible amount of planning, research, and legalities that most bookstore patrons rarely consider.  And if a person has no background in business or retail and wants to open a bookstore, well, good luck.  But if the people have a background in teaching like co-owners Kimberly and Rebecca at Volumes Bookcafe, then all bets are off.  Good teachers are resourceful, creative, tenacious, and have lots of contacts and these two utilized all of these talents to open a beautiful, well-organized, perfectly charming bookstore and cafe.  These two co-owners are sisters who benefitted from their dad's garage and carpentry skills; same goes for their uber intelligent engineer uncle, and countless other friends and relatives.  Bottom line?  Don't open an independent bookstore without a good support system.  Thankfully, Kimberly and Rebecca have that in spades and this indie is off to a flying start.

I think Volumes has a fantastic location in the Wicker Park neighborhood along the very busy Milwaukee Ave.  It is highly visible for foot traffic and automobile traffic alike.  The store is a long and deep one-level space in a building easily over 100 years old.  Rebecca has done a lot of creative interior decorating that helps deliver some of the store's charm.  Volumes offers new books and a variety of sidelines including greeting cards, calendars, seasonal gift items, and locally made jewelry and journals to name just a few.  Like all new indies, decisions about what sidelines to carry will evolve over time as they learn their customers better.  Even though this store has only been open for a few months, it is already engaged with lots of store and author events and community involvement.  I can't believe how busy their events schedule is in the short time they've been open.  Everything from book clubs and story times to author events and one of my favorites, a monthly women's comedy night.  If you visit during the day you can enjoy a coffee of latte and if you attend an evening event treat yourself to a glass of wine or a beer.  If the store ever offers bedrooms, I would see no reason to leave!

Kimberly was so kind to tell me about the creation of this store and its beginnings.  Like many communities, this one desperately needed a bookstore/cafe.  In its short existence, it has been strongly supported by many local authors as well as the surrounding community.  But since it's new, many of you don't know about it.  Sooner or later, this store is going to have a bee-line of customers surging through the doors.  Beat the rush and get there now.  Everyone who visits will love this place and the people who work there and you will have a terrific bookstore experience.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  I Thought You Were Dead, Pete Nelson.  Story of a divorced guy living with only his dog, Stella.  Stella is a talking dog who helps him with his family, his relationships, and his life problems.  This story is sad at times, but in the end it is a rewarding book.  I thoroughly enjoyed this one and it is an easy read.  Recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  The View From Penthouse B, Elinor Lipman.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Phantom Limbs, Paula Garner.  Searching For John Hughes, Jason Diamond.  

Another exterior view.  I like the graphic artist's design for the store name.  

One of the front window displays.  

View looking straight through the store from the front entrance.  As you can see, the cafe is in the front of the store.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  

Great places to sit and try out a book.  

Volumes has wasted no time in setting up an active events schedule.  

I love this "blind date with a book" promotion.  I've seen a few other indies do this and I love the idea.  At Volumes, $3 will get you a book wrapped in brown paper with only the synopsis to go by.  Come on, take a chance!  

Locally made jewelry available here.  

I can always count on seeing things in a bookstore that I've never seen elsewhere.  

Along the walls you'll see some great literary quotes.  

You'll be here awhile.  Get something to drink.  

One of the table displays of books.  

You'll need some of these candles to read by in case your power goes out.  

A few of the magazines available.  

Another great place to sip a coffee, set it on the table, and enjoy trying out a book.  

A tree for the season and a few of the greeting cards available.  

A portion of the very attractive children's section.  

Another nice place to sit in the children's section.  

View looking from the back of the store toward the front entrance.  

I love the tin ceilings in many of the bookstores I visit that are in historic buildings.  

A great table display for kids.  

A few of the staff picks.  

These book covers are part of a wall design.  This picture doesn't do it justice so visit the store and see for yourself.  

This stack of books cleverly hides a floor to ceiling pipe.  Great artistic creativity!   
With Kimberly, one of the fine co-owners at Volumes Bookcafe.  Thanks for a great visit.  


  1. This is great description of the Volumes Book Cafe......only I will add some of my own observations.
    The atmosphere is something special. It's a combination of some new fresh and innovative ideas and at the same time this wonderful place has a feeling of coziness and nostalgia.
    In addition to the frappe, I love the muffins and treats too.
    Spread the word about this spot........super location and super staff too.

  2. Excellent observations and comments and I couldn't agree more. Although, I'll have to go back and try a muffin in order to confirm your endorsement! Thanks, Bob