Owner Nina Barrett speaks to a customer Wednesday at the “soft launch” of Bookends & Beginnings on Orrington Avenue. Credit: Manan Bhavnani

Dozens of Evanstonians packed the brightly lit new location of Bookends & Beginnings, 1620 Orrington Ave., on Wednesday, Feb. 15 for a “soft launch,” a thank-you event for donors who contributed to the bookstore’s GoFundMe campaign.

The store officially opened its doors to the public at 11 a.m. Thursday, but the event the night before was a celebration of the community and the support Bookends received after a rent hike at its previous site compelled owner Nina Barrett to move her shop.

Customers head downstairs past a mural at Bookends & Beginnings painted by owner Nina Barrett’s sons Sam and George Booker. Credit: Manan Bhavnani

The new space, about 500 square feet larger than the store’s previous location, features two floors, bright chandeliers on the ceiling and a colorful mural painted by Barrett’s artist sons, Sam and George Booker. “I hope that people come take a look at the store for themselves. People are going to come to love this place,” she said.

While the former location on Bookman’s Alley was a unique draw, it had its disadvantages. It had no restrooms, for one thing.

“Every single fixture in that old store was second- or third-hand castoffs from some other bookstore that had gone out of business,” Barrett said. Bookends closed its Sherman Avenue outpost along with the alley store.

Barrett raised $110,000 from a GoFundMe campaign and the city gave her $83,000 to help fund the move to Orrington. She was optimistic about the store’s future at the new site in the heart of downtown.

A customer wraps up a purchase at the store's new location Wednesday night.

Evanston resident Carrie Goldman, a longtime customer, echoed Barrett’s sentiment. “I’m so glad they are doing this,” she said, predicting the new street front location would boost foot traffic.

Haley Kost was the first customer at Bookends & Beginnings on Thursday. “I honestly didn’t know it was at this location until I walked past.” She bought The Charm Offensive, a novel by Alison Cochrun; The Heartstopper Coloring Book by Alice Oseman and a notebook. Credit: Richard Cahan

Goldman, a writer and teacher, said her family is “book-obsessed,” with books being a top gift request.

“Any independent bookstore that opens is a jewel to the community,” said Todd Kaminskas, an engineer at Massachusetts-based firm Thermo Fisher Scientific who works with Northwestern University.

An avid reader of thrillers from the ’40s and ’50s, Kaminskas was dismayed he was unable to find Raymond Chandler’s works. Instead he bought Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, as he had seen the movie.

Barrett said she hopes to expand the store’s hours, currently 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, in the coming months once the business gets back on its feet.

Richard Cahan contributed to this story.

Manan Bhavnani

Prior to joining the RoundTable, Manan Bhavnani covered business and technology for the International Business Times, with a focus on mergers, earnings and governance. He is a double Medill graduate, with...

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  1. Welcome back Nina, staff and Bookends! The new space looks amazing. So very glad you’re able to stay in downtown Evanston and happy to be a donor/satisfied customer. Long may you prosper