Shop features spiritual theme, among other genres
Ever since Jerrilyn Zavada watched the 1998 romantic comedy "You've Got Mail," she saw herself living Meg Ryan's character.
The character, Kathleen Kelly, operates a small, independent bookshop.
That vision has never escaped Zavada.
On Wednesday, she'll open her own small, independent bookstore: The Wise Old Owl Bookstore at 409 E. Main St., Suite 3, in downtown Streator.
"It's been my dream," said Zavada, the contributing author of the Spirit Matters column for The Times and NewsTribune, and a former Times reporter, about owning her own bookstore. "I always thought that would be really cool."
Fitting into a 12-by-18-foot space, the shop is unique.
Zavada wants the store to be an extension of her column, which focuses on spirituality. The store features a selection of spiritual, religious, self-help and grief books, among many other topics.
The decor also features its owl namesake, with owl paintings, photographs and statues throughout the store.
Zavada said she's always known the nursery rhyme of the wise old owl, which is painted on the north wall of the store. She said the rhyme, and the spirituality around owls in general, summarizes her spirituality.
"Owls have always been fascinating to me," she said.
The Streator native also said the store will have a hometown flavor, featuring many Streator-area authors, as well as other authors from the region.
This week, Streator native Khristy Reibel will do a book signing of her work "Rosemary in Bloom" at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, July 2, when the shop opens, and she will do a 20- to 30-minute presentation beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, July 3, about how Streator was affected by World War II, which ties into the theme of her book.
Zavada said her family has been instrumental in opening her business. Her brother Jeff owns the building, her nephew Jordan and his girlfriend painted the mural on her north wall, her brother Joe and nephew Jacob collaborated with her to offer Schuil gourmet coffee from Grand Rapids, Mich., at the shop, and her niece Lexi has been her assistant manager, helping her with every detail of the business.
The store will sell a variety of new and used books, including a developing children's section, which Zavada said still is being completed. The children's section will be named in honor of her cousin Christopher Miller, who died in 1989 when he was 12. She babysat Miller and said he was like a brother to her.
"He's always had an influence on me and is an important part of who I am, and why I've become the spiritual person I am," Zavada said.
She said she will take feedback from customers about any genres or books she should stock. The store also will take donations of like-new books.
Local artists Hannah Schaumburg and Chelsea Smith will have artwork on display and for sale inside the shop.
"We've tried to keep everything we've done local," Zavada said.
She said the feedback from fellow Streator residents has been positive.
"Everyone has been excited," she said. "I can't say enough about how supportive the community has been."
The Wise Old Owl Bookstore, located inside the recently renovated 409 building on East Main Street, will open 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 1, for a soft opening, then open at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, July 2, before beginning normal hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday starting Friday, July 3.