Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Chicago Treasure



Every year in the late summer, my husband and I, with our friends Kenny and Jenny, make a pilgrimage to one of my favorites cities in the world, Chicago. While the men attend business meetings, Jenny and I make sure the shops in the Magnificent Mile don't go out of business. On this trip, however, I made it my mission to find an independent bookstore to discover. And I found it, only a few blocks from our hotel. It is called Sandmeyer's Bookstore.

Sandmeyer's is located on Dearborn Street in the historic Printer's Row. Back in the late nineteenth century, this area was once home to Chicago's printing and publishing industry. The area is most notable for its newly renovated Dearborn Station, which sits at the southern end of the street. Maintaining its ties to the literary world, Printer's Row hosts an annual book fair in June. (Road trip, anyone?) So it is fitting that Sandmeyer's sits right in the middle of this quaint little neighborhood.


When you walk into the shop, it is like you are stepping back in time. Creaky wooden floors, an open loft-like ceiling, and shelves and shelves of books. This little store is a book-lovers oasis. The owner, Ellen, greeted me with warm smile. She informed me that Sandmeyer's has been in business since 1982, and was a tried and true "mom and pop" shop. I don't think she was thrilled to have her picture taken (I can relate) but to me, she seemed to be the heart and soul of the shop and I couldn't resist.


As I recently signed up for the RIP Reading Challenge, and still very excitable about the whole thing, I asked Ellen to help me find some spooky gothic stories. Off she went, on a mission, and soon I had a stack of books in my arms. I also picked up a few others that drew my attention. My only issue was that I was restricted to carry-on luggage on this particular trip, so I prioritized myself down to three books:





By this point, my friend Jenny had done her shopping and had moved on down the street. How long had I been there? I lost track of time. When I paid for my purchases, I noticed that in keeping with Sandmeyer's quaintness, they keep track of inventory on a piece of paper at the register. I just wanted to crawl over the counter and stay.





Do you seek out bookstores when you travel? Have you ever discovered any treasures l like this one?





26 comments:

Melody said...

What a find, Sandy! I love bookshops like this - with its unique ambience and a friendly/helpful bookseller!

You've bought some great books there! I look forward to your reviews on them soon.

PS: I always seek out bookstores whenever I travel. To me, it's part of an excitement to the trip!!

Book Chick City said...

I love bookshops and if they are old and rickety the better! And yes, I do seek them out when on holiday. I have read Rebecca, but many years ago and so really need to re-read it. The others are new to me though. Glad you had such a good time away! :)

Susan said...

Lovely, lovely find, Sandy! If I ever get to Chicago again, I will definitely go to this bookshop.

There's a small bookshop in a little town west of us where I always buy books. I just love the woman who owns it and she has two cats residing there. It's perfect!

Beth F said...

I really Chicago too; it's a fun city. I always look for bookstores wherever I go -- but the one you found really does sound like a treasure.

Andreea said...

Wow, I envy you:) The bookshop sounds great! I like old, intimate bookshops and I could spend hours in there!

bermudaonion said...

You and Jenny are so good to worry about the economy like that! I do look for bookstores if I have the time and I never leave an indie without buying something.

Jen - Devourer of Books said...

Next time you come to Chicago you should let me know if you have any free time! I don't get downtown much these days without a good reason (you know, baby and all), but maybe I'll have to try to get down there and check out this bookstore!

Molly said...

I do not travel that much - but when I do I try to search out independent bookstores as well.

I think you made a great choice with the three books you decided to purchase.

caite said...

Oh, throw in an armchair and I could spend the day there...lovely...

I do look for bookstores on trips! I think I found at least one in every town/city I was in on the Great Alaska/Yukon adventure. Which is why I had to repack my luggage to make the weigh in and had a carry on that was about 50 lbs.

Gavin said...

What a great bookstore! If I'm ever in Chicago I will go there. We have several wonderful stores in Seattle but, like everywhere else, the smaller ones are closing.

We always search out bookstores and libraries when we travel and often come home with great finds.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Melody - Let's just hope I can get to them this year, that is how behind I am! I love hunting down little places like this!

Carolyn - well, it was only three days, but I did as much damage as possible! I'm hoping to get to Rebecca soon...

Susan - oh, cats are good. That was the only thing missing here. You should do a little post on your bookshop!

Beth - the one big bummer is that as often as I visit my parents, there IS NO INDIE BOOKSTORE in Lafayette, IN. I'm thinking there is an entrepreneurial opportunity there. After all, it is a university town!

Andreea - well I did. I smoked out my friend even...she moved onto Filene's Basement and I was still digging through books!

Kathy - haha! It is alot to take on one's shoulders, but we were up for the job! It is part of our annual roles and responsibilties as wives.

Jen - oh, that is right! You ARE up there close to Chicago! Ack. Could kick myself. I have yet to meet a fellow blogger. Well, there is always next year, late August!

Molly - it was a very tough choice. I hate being limited by the size of my darned suitcase and its weight!!!!

Caite - this is the problem. If I go over that 50 pounds, I am in big trouble with the hubbie. He would be quick to remind me that is why I have my Kindle!

Gavin - it is so sad when the little guys close up shop. I do go to Borders for the coupons, but then again, we have ONE indie book store in Orlando.

Thomas said...

Old-school bookstores rock! I miss the old days when stores like this still reigned supreme, but today it's all commercial chain stores. :(

farmlanebooks said...

I seek out books wherever I go! I am planning to read Rebecca in the next couple of months. Let's hope we both enjoy it!

Literary Feline said...

This sounds like a wonderful store, Sandy. I am glad you found it and shared it with us. Whenever I travel, I do go in search of bookstores. Probably drives my husband crazy. LOL I always look for the local section, hoping to find a novel that might make its way home with me-a reminder of my visit to that store.

Randy Sue said...

My favorite part of this swell post, Sandy, is that when you told Ellen what you were looking for, she came up with a wonderful armful of books for you. Knowledgeable independent booksellers and their staffs of avid readers are cherished by book lovers everywhere for this reason. It breaks my heart every time I hear from bookseller friends how people come in and receive terrific recommendations, as you did from Ellen, then say they'll buy the books for less money online. Independent stores usually offer their own frequent buyer incentives, and we need to keep them in business!

Iliana said...

Love Chicago and have been to the Printer's Row book fair - it's fabulous! I'd love to go again.

I honestly can't remember if I went into Sandmeyer's when I was there but I did find a great architecture/art/design book shop while I was there. Lots of pretty (and expensive) books.

Enjoy your new books! :)

Jeane said...

I always keep my eyes open for bookstores when I'm somewhere new- especially the used ones. Just went into one this weekend that had tall, narrow shelves with leaves that folded out and held even more books way above my head- it was delightful!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I have never been to Chicago! Never! Connected flights in ORD, but never been in the city. What I know of Chicago, I know from ER.

I'm glad you and your friend are doing your part to help the economy - and what a better place to help out than in a bookstore.

Sandmeyer's (and their booksellers) sounds like a treasure!

The Bumbles said...

Us Bumbles loved Chicago. But we were too preoccupied with baseball, music festivals and siteseeing to lose ourselves in a bookstore. What a great idea though. Maybe we'll start making a point to search them out. Let me know when you plan to start reading Rebecca - I've got a used copy sitting here at home waiting to be read - would be fun to discuss together. We could do a dueling review.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Thomas - sadly many of them have gone the way of the dodo bird. I am always delighted when I find something like this!

Jackie - we should read it in tandem! I see the Bumbles want to read it too. It is my hope and prayer that I can get to it in the next few weeks!

Wendy - see, I hunt down the bookstores when hubby is otherwise occupied! If not, he would be driven up the wall!

Randy Sue - to me, when it comes to the indie store, it is not about the deal. I would pay a little more just based on pricipal! Ellen was excited to help, as any of us bibliophiles would! Kindred spirits, are we!

Iliana - I am so jealous! I would LOVE to go to that event. I can't imagine you would have missed this place. It sits right smack dab in the middle of Printers Row!

Jeane - Oh, I wish you would have taken pictures! When I go in these places, and start taking pictures, they don't know what to think of me. Take your camera next time. Dawn can feature it on her spotlight!

Dawn - Chicago has my heart. It is like a small town in a big town's clothes. Of course, I've never been up there in the winter, but still!

Bumbles - I can understand the distraction. There is always so much going on up there! I would love to read Rebecca with you. My goal is to hit it maybe early October...I'll let you know!

Carrie K. said...

Ooo, I LOVED The Lace Reader! I wanted to post my review as soon as I finished it, but I had to to save it for a blog tour on the 17th.

I love independent bookstores - one of my favorite parts of traveling, even though I don't do it very often. :)

Anna said...

Looks like a great bookstore!

I don't usually travel other than to go camping, so there's not always an opportunity for book shopping. But Serena and I did find a gem of a used bookstore, somewhat by accident, on the camping trip we took at the beginning of July. We couldn't stay long, though, with bags of ice in the car. :(

If I ever make it to Chicago, I'll have to keep this store in mind.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Kathleen said...

Thank you for sharing your disovery! If I am ever in Chicago I will add it to my list. I also try to seek out independent book stores when I travel. I just recently did a post on my blog about the ones I found when I was in Seattle.

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I think you are really going to enjoy The Lace Reader!

savidgereads said...

Oh I do love these book store posts. I think I will have to do a detour to a very 'sensational' bookstore very soon! This sounds like a delightful shop and really it was good you only had hand luggage wasnt it? It could have all gone horribly wrong. Ha!

heidenkind said...

Another book store to visit while I'm in Chicago! Lillithcat also recently posted about the U of I's bookstore, which sounds amazing. I hope remember to go to both the next time I'm there!