In March of 2021, after 5 incredible years at our 1474 N. Milwaukee location (6 for those us who spent a year building it), we had to make the difficult decision to leave at the end of our lease. It was a tough pill to swallow, considering we had spent so much time, money, and labor to make that space something special.
However, as we have said before, a bookstore is more than an address, and we aim to continue the Volumes tenure as a community bookstore for many years to come. To do so, we realized, we needed a space where the rising costs of tenancy weren't a factor. A mortgage, it would seem, is about half of what we were spending on rent (and our rent was lower that average for the neighborhood as it was).
Since COVID began, we had already begun discussions with various members of the community about the idea of finding a way to purchase a space instead of leasing it. The idea of spending so much money, blood, sweat, and tears in building a new space with the ultimate chance of having this happen again, was too much to bear. That, and we became acutely aware of the fact that a mortgage on a building was almost half of what we would be spending to lease a space. At the end of our lease, we were almost at $10,000 per month.
After many discussions with community members, we came up with a plan to buy a building. We would collectively put in for a down payment, and the excess rental income from the building would be used to repay all investors in a matter of a few years. So far we have gathered an amazing group of people, with a wide variety of investments in to the venture. We are so close to having enough to also cover new shelves, closing costs, and the inevitable permits/odds and ends to make this dream a reality.
In addition to securing a permanent and affordable location, we would be able to expand what we can do for the community. We could expand upward, creating a dedicated community events space, a classroom, and eventually, a space for live-in author/artist residencies. At our very core, we want to provide this community with access to literary arts, literacy programs, and the open and free readings, open mics, and storytelling events that have come to define what we are.
The good news is, after one heartache of losing a building we loved, we have found another. It is in the heart of Wicker Park. It could house our store beautifully and quite easily (no chaos with build-out!). And we are SO CLOSE to having enough to make this dream a reality.
While we know times are tough for everyone, we thought it was time to really lay it all out there and see if anyone else wants to join in this venture. We know not everyone has a lot to give, but if you think this is worth $5 or $10, we'd be forever thankful.
We will be emailing out discount codes for online shopping for all who donate. If you'd like to invest a larger sum, please contact us directly for more information.
With all of our heart, we are so thankful to all of you, you book lovers of the world.
Kimberly and Rebecca George