Help Book Rack Used Books keep Peoria reading

My name is Stacy Hardin and I am the owner of Book Rack Used Books in Peoria, Illinois.  Book Rack Used Books is the oldest used bookstore in Peoria that is still open today.  It opened back around 1975.  When I was 12 years old, I used to go to The Book Rack, as it was called then, on Saturdays to get my weeks worth of books.  It was always my dream to own and expand Book Rack.  I loved it so much!

In 2016, my dream was realized and I took over the store.  I changed the name a little bit to Book Rack Used Books, created a new logo and began to focus heavily on reaching the Peoria Metro population so that I could help cultivate the love of reading.

I began putting up Little Free Libraries around the city, filling existing ones and really promoting the benefits of reading.  I started working with our local school district to get books to the kids.  I have done several Bradley Capstone Projects with students on literacy.  In 2018, I expanded the store into the space next door and put in a very large children's book room, as well as a large Young Adult book room.  In 2019, I started Book Rack Literacy Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit, to further increase the amount of books that I put out into our community for free for the our children and other community members.  We began donating new classroom libraries to the teachers in our local school district.  In 2019 alone, Book Rack Used Books, together with our non-profit, donated over 25,000 books into the community!  

Aside from my family, Book Rack Used Books and Book Rack Literacy Foundation, Inc. are my heart! As the holder of a Master's in Education and a dyslexia tutor, literacy is my love.  Sharing that love with others is as close to heaven on earth for me as you can get.  

I have worked very hard to build Book Rack into a place where the community can gather and find all of the wonderful things that embody their favorite books and characters.  Something as simple as a tote bag with Harry Potter, a soy candle with their favorite book phrase ... even so far as to put in a Narnia wardrobe that you can walk through to get to another room, complete with a working lamppost surrounded by snow and trees ... just like in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

Book Rack is now in the position of needing help from the community.  My store was doing very well until the COVID-19 outbreak began shutting normal operations down.  I have been mandated by the Governor to shut down our most prosperous of operations ... the walk in customer.  I am now operating solely online and from home.  In order to continue to make sure that I can pay my store rent and utilities during the lockdown, as well as resume operations when this crisis has passed, I am asking for your help.  

While the lockdown is going on, I am still doing community outreach with books.  I have been filling Little Free Libraries around town, as well as taking books for the local school lunch distributions.  I am also trying to get temporary library tables put up in several local grocery stores so that people still have books to read while in isolation.  We need to keep the minds sharp!

The current loan situation that is available to small businesses look promising but there are no guarantees.  And to be honest, I don't know that I would even be able to pay them back.  Most people probably realize that bookselling is not a lucrative position...it is a passion position.  I definitely have the passion to do it.  I love it very much and want desperately to continue doing it when this situation is contained and we can resume normal operations.  Thankfully, my husband is an essential employee (a police officer at Illinois Central College and for the Fairview Police Department) and makes enough money to keep our home front running...we have 2 boys in college and they do not live with us so we are paying for 2 households.  I just need help paying the Book Rack rent and utilities over the next 3-4 months so that I will be in a strong position to stay open and continue being an asset to the Peoria community long into the future.

I am very heavily invested in the Peoria area.  I live in Peoria; I play in Peoria; I am Peoria.

Please, if you are in any position to help, would you please consider helping me keep Book Rack functioning during the lockdown and give me the ability to re-open when it is time?  Any amount will help #smallbusinessrelief.

I will find a way to make it up to you when this is over.  I will continue to provide the best service to our community that I can.  I promise.

Thank you so much for the support.  I love you all.  

Stay healthy and stay safe. 

Peace, Love & Books - Stacy Hardin #smallbusinessrelief
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Organizer

Stacy Hardin 
Organizer
Peoria, IL
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