The online fundraiser aims to raise $15,000 to pay for a bathroom at the combined storefront at 10324 S. Western Ave. in Beverly, as well as a new bathroom in its existing shop at 2419 W. 103rd St. also in Beverly.
The effort began April 26 and had raised just $580 by Tuesday morning, according to the website.
Owner Keith Lewis said wheelchair users and others often struggle in his existing store, as narrow aisles make it difficult to navigate the through stacks of books that often reach the ceiling. He plans to convert this 900-square-foot storefront to a venue for book signings, book clubs and more when the new store opens.
"We regularly have customers in wheelchairs who are forced to remain in the front of the store while their family members shop — or who don't bother to come in at all. This just isn't acceptable," Lewis wrote when explaining his GoFundMe effort.
The new store will be more than twice the size with 2,000 square feet of retail space. Lewis plans to use a more open floor plan, with areas for children's story time as well as a quiet area near the windows where customers can sit and page through books they are considering to buy.
This design includes wider aisles for wheelchairs and a new bathroom. Though, he said the addition of such bathrooms isn't technically required since in both instances he is remodeling existing space rather than building a new bookstore.
"In truth, it is optional to remodel these bathrooms. But, really, it's not," Lewis said.
A former Chicago Public Schools teacher, Lewis took over the bookstore Jan. 2, 2015. Larry Kroff opened Bookie's in 1989. Lewis said sales have been largely steady since he's taken over, and the best way to increase business is to increase the size of his shop.
"We can't claim to be a community bookstore and ignore members of our community in our plans," he said.