Bookends & Beginnings will have a new beginning in 2023.
And Bookman’s Alley will be without a bookstore.
Owner Nina Barrett said Tuesday that a rent increase at her current location made staying in the present spot “unsustainable for us financially.”
So, in January, Bookends & Beginnings will move to 1620 Orrington Ave., in the storefront formerly occupied by La Macchina Cafe, which closed in 2020 during the pandemic.
Barrett said the “eclectic, back-alley ambiance” was part of Bookends’ vibe for the past eight years. She also expanded into a more visible storefront annex on Sherman Avenue.
But Barrett also said that “As much fun as it’s been to be Evanston’s hidden gem …, in today’s retail environment, it’s an ongoing challenge to be as well hidden as that.”
For someplace hidden, however, Barrett has received national publicity as an independent bookstore owner who survived when larger booksellers were closing. In 2021, she filed a lawsuit against Amazon and five major publishers, hoping for class action status alleging unfair monopolistic price setting.
The present Bookends building has been purchased by developer Steve Rogin, who plans to turn the old Varsity Theater across the alley into ground floor retail and 35 apartments upstairs, a project he said is moving forward.
Rogin told Evanston Now that, Barrett “made the decision to leave,” but all the other tenants such as the Alley Gallery framing shop, are “100% remaining.”
Bookends and Beginnings will remain in its present home through the critical holiday sales season, then pack up the books and head for that new beginning.