In a world that’s becoming increasingly more paper-less, it’s an absolute luxury to have an independent book store in our midst. Thanks to Eleanor Thorn, who purchased Lake Forest Book Store from Sue Boucher last October, the store will continue to delight customers for years to come.
“I would never have become the owner if I didn’t truly believe in the future of Lake Forest Book Store,” Eleanor says. “I love books—the actual physicality of them. Our community is so supportive of this notion and of the store. I felt that I had a calling to carry this on. It was too important not to.”
Eleanor, a longtime resident of both Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, had her first foray in Market Square retail when she worked at Marshall Field’s. Then, for the last 18 months, she has handled the bookkeeping for Lake Forest Book Store.
“One of the hardest parts of becoming the owner has been needing to relinquish some of my past responsibilities so that I can be on the floor meeting our customers and getting to know what they love to read. Because I was the bookkeeper, I always worked downstairs. Now it’s time for me to be on the floor,” she says.
Eleanor credits the staying power of Lake Forest Book Store to its previous owners and the current staff. “No one knows books better than these women,” says Eleanor. “There’s no one like them. You can’t go to a big bookseller and get the type of recommendations our staff can offer. I love to see how they greet customers coming in the store and can immediately suggest a book they know they would enjoy,” she adds. Eleanor herself is joining a second book club so that she can become more current and knowledgeable on the store’s titles.
Because of Eleanor’s financial background, she’s looking for opportunities to grow Lake Forest Book Store’s retail business. “I’d like to expand some of the genres we currently carry. The kids are crazy for science fiction and fantasy today—I think we owe that to Harry Potter,” she says with a laugh. Additionally, in the children’s department, Eleanor thinks it would be advantageous to pair some titles with toys. And Eleanor’s Marshall Field’s roots are sure to come through in how she merchandises the store. “I think it’s good to change things up to keep the store fresh,” Eleanor says, noting that she would also like to feature some local artisans, including some work from her husband who is an artist.
Eleanor hopes to continue the amazing programming that began under her predecessor with communities outside of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff. “It’s so important to collaborate,” explains Eleanor. Additionally, she hopes to add a children’s story time one evening a month. “I love the idea of reading to children in their PJs, right before bedtime. It takes me back to reading to my own kids when they were small. That is such a happy memory for me.”
Three months into her new role, and in spite of taking over the store at the height of its busy season, Eleanor has no regrets. “My husband will ask me at night, ‘Are you exhausted?’ to which I’ll reply, ‘Yes!’ And he says, ‘But it’s the good kind of tired, right?’ And my answer is, ‘Absolutely.’ It’s all good.”
Lake Forest Book Store is located at 680 N. Western Avenue in Lake Forest, 847-234-4420.
-Ann Marie Scheidler // Photography by Jim Prisching