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Bookie’s owner announces 2nd store closure; The Rock Shop to remain open

Almost five years to the day after announcing he was planning to open a branch of his Chicago book store in Homewood, Keith Lewis announced he was closing his second Homewood store. 

On Tuesday, May 9, Lewis posted on Facebook a notice that Bookie’s New and Used Bookstore would stop retail sales on Thursday, May 11.

Lewis reopened the store at 18019 Dixie Highway in November 2022 after closing the store on Ridge Road two months earlier. Lewis cited a rent increase for closing the first iteration of Bookie’s in Homewood after four years of operation.

The reopening was enabled by a partnership with two other local businesspeople. Lewis teamed up with Laura Bruni and Craig Frank, who opened The Rock Shop in the same space with Bookie’s. Bruni specializes in stones. Frank sells vinyl records and custom-made guitars.

The new shop had bookshelves along one wall and in the rear of the store, vinyl record bins in a center island, display counters on the opposite wall and a reading and socializing area in the front.

Lewis said he loves the space and went into the arrangement with high hopes, but the businesses turned out to be incompatible. 

“An extreme difference in personality and business style made it impossible for this partnership to work,” he said. “It was a very hard decision, but it is what’s best for Bookie’s and its employees.” 

Bruni said she and Frank were surprised by Lewis’s sudden decision to close the Bookie’s part of the store. She said The Rock Shop will continue. 

“I’m going to keep writing and editing out of the space and the music will be playing, as usual,” she said. “You might have to bring your own book, or grab one from the library, but the couches and curiosities are still here, and as always, we’d love a visit.”

Lewis expressed disappointment with the situation and said the decision was difficult. He has no plans in place to try a third Homewood store, but he did not rule out the possibility.

“I’ll never say never,” he said. “It’s disappointing to leave, but I will never completely close the door on Homewood.”

Lewis and Bookie’s Homewood manager, Rich Wojcikowski, have looked at a couple of other locations but haven’t found one that works.

In his announcement in Facebook, Lewis said staff would contact customers who have not picked up pending orders by 6 p.m. on Thursday or whose orders had not arrived by that time in order to make arrangements to unite them with their books. 

He said the original Bookie’s in the Beverly neighborhood at 10324 S. Western Ave. remains the closest independent bookstore to Homewood and Flossmoor.

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