New Evanston bookstore plans to be local ‘forum’


Annabel Edwards/Daily Senior Staffer

Bookends & Beginnings will replace Bookman’s Alley at the legendary Evanston store’s former Sherman Avenue location. Nina Barrett, the store’s owner, said the new shop will offer an assortment of modern and vintage books.

Tori Latham , Reporter

The owner of the new bookstore set to move into the space left by Bookman’s Alley plans to build upon the previous shop’s “irreplaceable” legacy.

Bookends & Beginnings, which will open in June, hopes to “create a vibrant cultural destination and hub of book-centered community for both adults and children,” owner Nina Barrett (Medill ’87) said in a news release.

The store, 1712 Sherman Ave., is located in the space previously occupied by the antique bookstore that was in operation for more than 30 years. Barrett said she hopes to create a similar cozy atmosphere in her own store.

“I have always thought that Evanston needed a general-interest, independent bookstore,” Barrett told The Daily. “We’re planning to be on the more intellectual end and not just the best-seller end.”

Barrett said she plans to sell a mix of current popular books as well as “vintage” books. Her husband, retired academic research librarian Jeffrey Garrett, will help Barrett run the store and will be in charge of finding international books. The store will not stock romance, science fiction or mystery novels, Barrett said.

“I don’t feel like we have to have every novel ever written,” she said. “I think the point is to have books that aren’t in every other store.”

Barrett has a background in journalism and writing. Her work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, among other publications. She also holds a culinary degree and is the recipient of two James Beard Foundation Awards. Barrett said she plans to bring her culinary expertise to the store.

“We will have a fabulous cooking section,” Barrett said. “One of the things I would love to do is to be at the farmer’s market on Saturday with cookbooks and be able to talk to people about what they should do with what they buy.”

Along with books, Barrett said the store plans to sell items such as stationery, artwork and jewelry. Although the jewelry will be imported from Berlin, most items will be sourced from local artists and artisans. Barrett said she also plans to host in-store events, such as writing workshops, play readings and “accountability groups,” weekly meetings where writers can give and receive feedback on current projects.

“I very much see this as a type of forum where people can come together and share ideas,” Barrett said.

To facilitate this, Barrett said she does not plan to offer Wi-Fi in the store.

“We really want our customers to be somehow interacting with a book, or a person who’s reading a book or a person who’s talking about a book,” she said.

Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) said she is “delighted” to welcome Bookends & Beginnings to the neighborhood.

“It is a perfect fit for Evanston,” Fiske said in an email to The Daily.

Barrett said her ultimate aspiration is for the shop to become an Evanston institution that represents the city through books and artwork.

“I would like to be the place where, when people have guests coming to Evanston, they say, ‘Oh, we have to take you to Bookends & Beginnings because it’s such a cool store,'” she said.

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