This past Wednesday the owners of Volumes Bookcafe in Wicker Park launched an Indiegogo campaign asking book lovers and community members for a little support: the storefront was on the verge of its final chapters.
“We started Volumes with the mission to bring a bookstore and community space to Chicago’s Wicker Park,” they wrote. “We are very proud of what we’ve built. However, we have hit a hurdle and in order for us to stay in our current location, we need your help.”
Volumes (1474 N. Milwaukee, 773-697-8066) was the brainchild of sisters Kimberly and Rebecca George, both teachers—Kimberly taught preschool, while Rebecca taught English abroad and in the Chicago Public Schools—and avid readers. The store officially opened its doors in 2016, after getting held up by city permits. According to Kimberly, most of the money they had saved went into the initial start-up.
“We wanted to be kind of a community hub for people and we’ve been here long enough that we know the neighborhood,” she says. “They’re smart, they’re well-read, and we were right, which is great, but we’re still a bookstore.”
For the Georges, being a community hub meant hosting book signings, author readings, and open mikes. The co-owners keep events free, Kimberly says, because they “didn’t want it to feel forced,” but their generosity led to low funds.
“You know it’s never ideal asking people for money,” says Kimberly. “It’s definitely a hit to our pride, but from the outpouring of support we’ve gotten, obviously we aren’t alone.”
Within two days of launching the Indiegogo page, Volumes had already raised more than $9,000 of its $60,000 goal.
“I was almost in tears,” says Kimberly.
Volumes also found a little help from its friends in the literary community. Writers such as Rebecca Makkai and Kathleen Rooney donated signed copies of their work to give away to donors, and local artists provided illustrations and tote bag designs. Other perks include author-curated book recommendation lists for $30 donations and a private reading and signed book from author Eve Ewing for $100.
With the bookcafe’s two-year anniversary coming up in March, the Georges hope the incoming donations will help keep the independent business afloat.
“We’re do or die for this business,” says Kimberly. “We want to be here.”