indieland's 30 Days of Christmas - Day 7 - Best Indie Holiday Bookstore Escapes
Doing the traditional holiday Chicago events, but still want to support an indie business? These conveniently located indie spots are little escapes from the holiday madness.
We know many of the traditional holiday activities in Chicago are not exactly focused on independent and small businesses -- shopping at the former Marshall Field's (now Macy's) and shopping on Michigan Ave or State Street, for example. But even as you do these traditional and fun activities, you might be surprised to find out that there are indie businesses (and one non-profit!) that you can support en route -- specifically, bookstores! Check out these indie bookstores and bookstore pop-ups while you're out doing your holiday shopping.
Volume's Bookcafe is one of our favorite bookstore in the Wicker Park neighborhood, and now a smaller, pop-up version of the store can be found inside Water Tower Place on the 6th floor. The store is open 10 AM to 9 PM and will be in the space until the end of January. So, if you're planning to do some holiday shopping in Water Tower this season, visit this charming bookstore for bookish and local gifts (there's a section along the wall in the back dedicated to Chicago-themed items). Or simply go there for your own escape from the madness, buy a book, and get lost in it!
I have very fond memories of visiting Marshall Field's as a kid during the holidays, and my mom taking me downstairs to the little bookstore hidden there. This was well before I was in to shopping for clothes, so I felt like this little part of the store was just for me. It made shopping with my mom a bit easier, 'cause I knew I might get a book out of it! Well, 20-ish years later, and Barbara's Bookstore is still there, and now in an even BIGGER section of the store. Macy's recently remodeled the lower floor, and moved Barbara's Bookstore to a prime location near the windows facing into the pedway. Now, I get to pass it every day on my walk to and from work, and it makes me smile. It helps that they have a great sale section--definitely check that out! So, when you go for your regular trip to the Walnut Room and to admire the window displays, head downstairs to the lower level to visit Barbara's Bookstore. (They also have several other locations in the Chicago suburbs -- they just opened a new store in Vernon Hills that looks beautiful. We can't wait to check it out!)
Carpe Librum is the pop-up bookshop supporting the non-profit Turning the Page. All proceeds go directly into Turning the Page, an organization focused on strengthening communities by providing a bridge between families and schools for the benefit of students. The proceeds from Chicago's pop-up shops will support programming in their six Chicago partner public schools, located in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood. All books are used and are great prices. They were originally on the lower level of Block 37, but recently moved upstairs to the street level. Their old space became a Starbucks, sadly, but their new space is arguably better since they now have a window looking right out on State Street! I would post photos of this one, but sadly I only have photos of their location on the lower level! But check out their Instagram account, and you'll see what their new window looks like.
If you happen to be out at Millenium Park for some ice skating and to gaze at the tree, walk down the street and warm up at The Dial Bookshop, located at 410 S Michigan (The Fine Arts Building) on the second floor. This new and used bookstore honors the literary history of The Fine Arts Building, which was once home to The Dial literary magazine, as well as Browne's Bookstore. It's a quiet little haven amongst the craziness of Michigan Ave, with high shelves full of books. It's truly a beautiful space, and must visit for any book lover!
We hope you'll escape the holiday madness with a visit to one of these bookstores this month, and perhaps buy a gift or two (for yourself or others).