Bookends & Beginnings announced Tuesday, Nov. 15, that it will be moving to a different downtown Evanston location. In the bookstore’s newsletter, owner Nina Barrett shared that the store will leave the “iconic alley and newer Sherman Avenue locations” and move to 1620 Orrington Ave.
“This move was not entirely of our own choosing,” the statement said. “A new owner of the alley property demanded a rent increase so dramatic that remaining where we are became unsustainable for us. We feel very thankful that the original affordability and legacy of our iconic Bookman’s Alley space allowed us to incubate and curate a store that, in less than a decade, has come to be recognized as ‘an Evanston institution’ and now attracts national recognition for its literary identity.”
Barrett expressed hope the store can remain at the current site through the holiday season and then move into the new site, which previously housed La Macchina Cafe, an Italian restaurant.
In a conversation this afternoon, Barrett talked about the struggle of renting in downtown Evanston, where rents are rising to the level that she believes only large national chains can afford to pay.
“Small businesses are what make one town different from another town. Having small businesses gives a town personality and gives it character,” she said. “It is very difficult when you are the owner of a small business. You take a ginormous risk, because you personally sign an individual guarantee that you will pay thousands of dollars to pay the lease even if your business does not go well.”
She pointed out that Central Street and Main Street in Evanston have lower rents, which in turn allows for small business to have more affordable expenses, but that the increased foot traffic and the proximity to the university were too important for Bookends & Beginnings to pass up on a downtown location.
She noted the challenge for independent bookstores against the convenience of people ordering books on Amazon.
“We have to make a value proposition,” she said. ”We ask you to pay the full price for the book, but the reason to pay it is because Amazon is not a cozy independent bookstore in your town, where you can come and browse, where you can take your kids for story time. We have to make this abstract value proposition to our customers all the time.”
Starbucks on Central Street update
Starbucks at 2114 Central St. is scheduled to close Nov. 27, a media representative for the company said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. Employees will have the opportunity to move to other stores, the spokesperson said, but this outlet is closing because “Starbucks likes to evaluate our store portfolio” and the store “wasn’t meeting the needs of that community.”