While some bookstores are shrinking or disappearing entirely, Prairie Fox Books has expanded.
The independent bookstore moved across the street to its new location at 719 La Salle St. in Ottawa and opened on Friday.
The clanging of the door opening was followed by many “oohs” and “ahhs” as curious readers began to discover the new space, which includes seating areas, a small faux-fireplace and more room between shelves.
“I love this place,” exclaimed Susan Ginocchio.
Ginocchio, of Yorkville, was picking up some gifts for family with her husband John and was enamored with the new location.
Ginocchio, a retired librarian, previously visited the store and said the staff had been helpful in identifying the right books and having them in stock, something she's less likely to find online.
“I’m a retired professional librarian so of course I’m drawn to books. I just love this place and it’s amazing what they’ve done here,” Ginocchio said.
But you don’t have to be a librarian to appreciate the new space.
Debbie Hartupee was doing some light shopping with family and stopped in while on a trip from St. Louis. Hartupee said they’ve been traveling to the area to visit Starved Rock State Park once a year and enjoyed the new, larger bookstore.
Co-owner Gabriella Crivilare said it’s a common reaction for many.
“Everyone’s really astounded by the transformation the space has undergone, which I can understand,” Crivilare said with a laugh.
The new space will allow the bookstore to house more events and author signings as well as additional counter space for packing up gifts, just in time for the holiday season.
The extra room also allows for more lounging space.
“With a larger seating area we are inviting the community to come in, sit down and read a book,” Crivilare said. “We want to be as much a gathering place as well as a place of business.”
Crivilare said adding beverages to the already established cafe-like atmosphere and seating area will be considered in 2019.
While some larger book chains such as Borders and Waldenbooks are closing up shop, independent bookstores have found a little more footing.
The American Booksellers Association has found that 570 independent bookstores opened between 2009 and 2015.
Prairie Fox Books saw a steady stream of guests on Friday and Crivilare said she’s thankful for the business.
“We have a lot of repeat customers as well who will always come to us first, which is great and we really appreciate them,” Crivilare.
The expansion of Prairie Fox Books, as well as independent bookstores across the nation, is music to a librarian's ears.
“Other than Barnes and Noble, it’s hard to find a bookstore. I mean a real, true bookstore,” Ginocchio said. “It’s amazing what they’ve done here and I really love the space.”
“I wish them all the best,” Ginocchio added.