Evanston bookstore Bookends & Beginnings plans to move to new location

Elliot Hoffner, Staff Writer

Evanston’s beloved independent bookstore, Bookends & Beginnings, has been a popular spot for residents during the eight years since the bookstore opened in June of 2014. Its main shop is currently nestled into Bookman’s Alley, though the store expanded into 1716 Sherman Ave in February. The store owner, Nina Barrett, was recently faced with an eviction notice from the new property owner, who raised the rent by 125%. 

The property owner, Steve Rogin, has been the owner of the space previously inhabited by the Varsity Theater for 18 years, which closed in 1988. Rogin has been a property manager in Evanston for many years, and said, “I focus my investments on properties with character.” 

Rogin was also hoping to add character to the alley that houses Bookends & Beginnings itself, Bookman’s Alley, with dreams of making a pedestrian friendly space for gatherings and live music. So far, his plans have not seen action, though a concept art was revealed at a 1st Ward meeting in March of 2021. 

Once Rogin became the landlord and property owner of Bookends & Beginnings, he demanded more from the shop. After negotiating for months, Barrett and Rogin never reached an agreement.

“Two days before Thanksgiving, he served us with an eviction notice,” Barrett told CBS news

Barrett was faced with a quote of $40,000 for moving all the merchandise alone, but combined with all the other prices that come with moving a shop like this, Bookends & Beginnings lacked what they needed. They put in a request to the City of Evanston for funding of over $475,000. Evanston’s Economic Development Committee (EDC) recommended the City Council donate $83,000, which was presented to the Council on Dec. 12. 

Barrett has also started a GoFundMe asking for $250,000 from the public, and Evanston residents have taken up the mantle to give money and help the store, including an anonymous donation of $6,000.

Looking forward, the new location on Orrington is going to have two floors, and bathrooms this time. The property will give more space for less rent to Bookends & Beginnings and its employees. 

In a note on the GoFundMe, Barrett wrote, “we see this as an opportunity to build something more appropriate to a high-visibility location right in the heart of downtown Evanston, something less like a ‘hidden gem’ and more like a ‘crown jewel.’”