One of the things I loved about Oak Park when we chose to move here was the fact that one main street, Lake Street, could support three bookstores: Barbara’s, Borders and the Book Table. That spoke to the literary and artistic bent of our village (Ernest Hemingway Museum, anyone?). We were sad to see Barbara’s close, but at least we still had Borders and the Book Table.
Now all we have is the Book Table. They’re a fine store, but it’s not enough.
Borders sold two floors’ worth of all kinds of wonderful books, so there’s something for everyone, but not just that. You could meet friends for coffee in the cafe, there were book readings for the kids in the lower level, authors were brought in for book signings, free books were given to kids as rewards in the summer reading program, there was live music on some evenings, and a host of other activities.
The staff was friendly and very helpful. The shop was also very involved in the local community, participating in Down Town Oak Park’s Thursday Night Out in the summer and Winterfest in the winter. Borders was a great place to go and — in addition to buying books, magazines or cards — just hang out.
While an Apple store sounds appealing at first, it won’t be as much of a place for us Oak Parkers to enjoy. I go to an Apple store (either the one on Michigan or the one in Oak Brook) maybe 2-3 times a year to get help from a Genius or order the latest iPad/iPhone. I don’t mind driving 10 miles to go to a store that I go to so infrequently. Unless you need an Apple product, there’s no reason to go there in the first place. So while I’m an avowed Apple enthusiast, quite frankly even I wouldn’t get much use out of an Apple store on that corner.
Barnes & Noble would be a better fit for our community. Our location was one that escaped the first round of Borders closings, probably because it wasn’t losing money. If Barnes & Noble can make it in other places, why not in the old Borders space? There aren’t as many B&N locations in the Chicago area — the nearest one is 7 miles away on North Clybourn in the city. We need more places close by to quench our thirst for books because we are Oak Park.