WICKER PARK — Six months past a deadline to open in June, the owners of a new Milwaukee Avenue book store and cafe are trying to crowdsource $20,000 to pay for unexpected construction costs, a feat that, if it occurs, will be "a Christmas miracle," one of the owners said.
On Monday, sisters Kimberly and Rebecca George, owners of Volume Bookcafe, set up an Indigego campaign, "Help us fund our new HVAC and water line so we can finally open!"
As of Wednesday morning, the campaign had raised $1,820.
"We got our liquor license, our sign installed — all of the stuff that we heard was going to be the hardest is over," said Kimberly George, while Rebecca added it would be "a Christmas miracle" if the store opens by the holidays.
Once open, the shop would host in-store happenings, with a focus on children's events. Kids and young adult books would make up about one-fifth of the titles and there will be lots of "comfy couches" to encourage readers to hang out, Rebecca George said.
The business will sell primarily new books, some used books and offer a cafe with seating for about 36 people that will serve pastries from Dollop Cafe, coffee from Metropolis and craft beer and wine.
It was the addition of a cafe that caused much of the construction woes. Since the shop had to get a zoning change, to change the use of the building from retail to restaurant, a new water line needed to be added to accommodate a second sink upfront near the espresso counter and for a new bathroom.
Also, a city inspector recently told the Georges that they would need a second heater since the storefront was expanded in the back to add offices.
The sisters, who renovated most of the interior themselves with help from their father, Dennis George, who crafted the bookshelves, estimate that it will cost $20,000 to add a second water line and another heater.
"We ran into challenges getting small business loans because we needed to be in business for 12 months, and we are both basically unemployed right now on paper," said Rebecca George, a former educator with retail and publishing experience,
Both Ukrainian Village residents originally from Barrington, the sisters previously said they knew Wicker Park was the perfect location for a book store specializing in new titles and offering a cafe, similar to The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square.
Once open, Volumes Bookcafe would join Myopic Books, a used book shop at 1564 N. Milwaukee Ave.; Quimby's, 1854 W. North Ave.; Revolution Books, 1103 N. Ashland Ave. and The Occult Bookstore, Milwaukee Ave.
"Other bookstore owners are being very supportive. We already have a buzz through community and we hit a wall. We want more than anything to open," Rebecca George said.
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