With businesses of all sorts shuttering amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is nice to witness some sparks of hope as some of those businesses reopen. City Lit Books (2523 N. Kedzie Blvd.) is one such business, with the much-loved Logan Square bookstore returning under a new owner.
The shop, which closed in December as revenue fell during the pandemic, reopens this Saturday, June 26. Opening-day celebrations include giveaways, like tote bags with purchases of $50 or more in the store (while supplies last), along with raffles for gift cards. The store completed a soft opening this week and has been selling online again since May (you can purchase through Bookshop and the store’s own website).
We spoke to the new owner, former librarian Stephanie Kitchen, about how she came to the decision to reopen City Lit.
“Before I got my library degree, I worked in bookstores through college, and I worked as a book buyer,” Kitchen said. “I always had this dream of having my own shop, and before the pandemic hit, I was trying to make strides to have my own place.”
As most of us are painfully aware, the pandemic adversely affected businesses, families and individuals alike, and although there is a glimmer of light at the end of this long and arduous pandemic tunnel, life appears to returning to some normalcy. And as we, hopefully, turn the corner with COVID-19, Kitchen said she is more than ready to open and bring the community and the city at large back together.
“I want a place for the community to come together again now that the pandemic is hopefully winding down and people are out more,” she said.
As a Logan Square resident herself, Kitchen was attracted to City Lit as a shop she could purchase to fulfill her bookstore dream. When former owner and founder Teresa Kirschbraun “announced that she was closing, I thought to myself, ‘I will reach out to her to see if she is interested in selling,’” Kitchen said.
Kirschbraun and Kitchen met around the holidays in 2020 and discussed the former librarian buying the shop. At that time, the pandemic’s curve was climbing again, which gave Kitchen pause in making the purchase. By February, though, she decided that she wanted to take the plunge.
I want a place for the community to come together again.Stephanie Kitchen
Kirschbraun is still involved and is assisting Kitchen with the reopening as a consultant and in facilitating neighborhood introductions.
City Lit’s programming, including book clubs, story times and readings, will also return, Kitchen said. “There’s going be a sci-fi book club for sure, and we were talking about having a ‘Badass Women’ book club.”
Kitchen and her staff are discussing other themed book clubs, too. Always a huge hit at the shop before the closing, story time for kids will also return to City Lit, at the end of July.
Saturday’s reopening will serve as a celebration of City Lit and its place in our neighborhood, as well as the return of a livelier Logan Square. The shop will reopen at 10 a.m., with doors closing at 6 p.m., so be sure to head over and support this neighborhood business and your community. For now, the store will ask customers to wear masks, but mask requirements may be revisited after the reopening, Kitchen said.
Featured photo: Carrie McGath