As chain retailers leave DeKalb market, smaller booksellers try to fill niche

However, Sigwart and even the Village Commons Bookstore on Northern Illinois University’s campus are preparing in case residents’ book needs are not filled come the end of the year.

Village Commons Bookstore manager Jody Boardman saidher store, which carries mostly NIU merchandise and textbooks, has a small book collection, she will serve her customers no matter the need.

“At this point, we don’t have very much need for those books,but we will keep our ears open and try to fill that need if it’s there,” she said.

Sigwart acknowledges he does not have the variety and number of books a chain retailer would carry, but he can provide book recommendations and a personal touch to the book-buying experience. He said as much as he would like to be able to offer a wider selection, he would not receive buying deals from publishers that a larger chain would. Instead, many of his books are donated to his store.

He said although there was never room or a needin the city for three bookstores – at one time, the Junction bookstore, Borders and Barnes Noble all operated in the area – used bookstores may not fill the void. The Junction bookstore, which was located at 822 W. Lincoln Highway, closed in 2002, and Borders, 2520 Sycamore Road, closed in 2011 after its parent company filed for bankruptcy.

The DeKalb Borders opened in Northland Plaza shopping center in November 2001, a month before its competitor, Barnes Noble, announced it was opening a new store on the other side of Sycamore Road.

However, as Sigwart thinks fewer people are buying printed books, he thinks there is a need for the experience, not the actual sale of paperbacks.

“Both Borders and Barnes Noble shifted from just books to other media, they put in things like snack counters, trying to get enough sales revenue and make a decent profit,” Sigwart said. “We need something, butmaybe not quite as big as a Barnes Noble.”

Classic Books

WHERE: 115 N. First St., DeKalb, 815-748-3406

WHEN: Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday