Lake Forest Books Store
662 N. Western Ave., LF
Independent bookselling for 70 years.
Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce: Tell us a little about Lake Forest Book Store’s history and your inspiration for purchasing it.
Eleanor Thorn: It was first opened 70 years ago by a group of women who decided that Lake Forest was in need of a bookstore, and ever since then it has always been owned by local women. I bought Lake Forest Book Store in 2013 from Susan Boucher who had been the owner prior. At the time I was working as the bookkeeper, so I had a pretty good idea of the ins and outs of the business and ideas on how to expand.
The idea that this has always been owned by local women was really appealing and inspiring to me and I had a gut feeling that I could continue the tradition and help the bookstore grow. It was also important to keep the store here in Lake Forest because of the incredible customers who support us. After I asked my family what they thought of the idea of me buying the business, expecting them to say I was crazy, but they were nothing but supportive and encouraged me to follow my gut feeling and go for it! They told me that if anyone could do it, I could. So, I had their full support and still do today.
LFLBC: What is your business vision?
ET: My vision is for the bookstore to continue serving the community for another 70 years as well as making people aware of just how important it is to have independently owned books stores and local businesses. Shopping local is key to keeping our town vibrant and relevant. The investment in entrepreneurship is what makes our town unique.
LFLBC: What has been your greatest business initiative?
ET: My biggest business initiative was to expand the product lines in the store, by adding toys, gifts, and stationery. This has made us a “one stop shopping experience”.
LFLBC: What is one thing you want people to know about the Book Store?
ET: I am blessed with a staff who are the smartest, most well-read, and hardworking group of women I've ever met. If [customers] ever want recommendations on what to read, any one of them are ready and able to help. We are a team in which everyone enjoys reading different genres, so between us all we have all of our customers covered.
LFLBC: What other local businesses do you work with?
ET: I am fortunate to be able to work with so many wonderful businesses and organizations! We just wrapped up our ‘Where’s Waldo’ promotion in which we partnered with around 25 different businesses around Lake Forest where each store hides a small Waldo cut out inside for the kids to find. It’s a great way for the parents and kids alike to stop in and shop at some of the wonderful shops in Lake Forest. We’ve done this promotion every July, and each year it has grown in popularity. We also partner with local restaurants such as Froggy’s, The Gallery, and Deer Path Inn for our author luncheons and evening events. We also work with organizations like Gorton Community Center, Preservation Foundation, and many others.
LFLBC: How do you give back to the community:
ET: I donate all my slightly damaged books to many organizations such as 1st Presbyterian Church’s rummage sale, Bernie’s Book Bank, North Chicago school libraries with the help of Beacon Place, to one CPS 1st grade class and many others. We also donate to Reading Power and do book fairs with our local school districts and give back a portion of sales. I am always looking to donate books whenever we can. It is my vision to touch as many people who are less fortunate and cannot afford to buy books. A book can touch a person’s life, they are the best gifts to receive as they take us on so many adventures, take us places we might never get a chance to see, tell us stories, and teach us so much, what’s better than that?
LFLBC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
ET: I really want to reiterate how important it is for people to shop local, and to support all local businesses, we cannot have Amazon as our only retailer. Shopping should be an experience, a place where people gather and talk as well as shop. If you haven’t experienced that, make sure to stop by, especially around the holidays-it’s the most wonderful time of year.