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Culture Stock bookstore opens for business in downtown Aurora

Volunteer Karen Nicholas Aurorhelps sort organize books during opening Day Culture Stock Book store Downtown AurorMonday October 15 2012. |

Volunteer Karen Nicholas of Aurora helps sort and organize books during opening Day at Culture Stock Book store in Downtown Aurora on Monday, October 15, 2012. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

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Culture Stock bookstore

Where: 43 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

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Updated: November 17, 2012 6:11AM



AURORA — Downtown’s newest edition didn’t have all of its used books sorted and on shelves Monday — but it did have eager customers.

Although a grand opening is about a month away, the Culture Stock bookstore, a non-profit bookstore opened by L.I.F.T. Aurora, officially opened up its doors Monday at 43 E. Galena Blvd. The non-profit project greeted a few dozen first customers Monday as two men played chess in a corner of the store.

“We have books and places for people to sit — that’s all we need,” said Nicole Mullins, executive director of L.I.F.T. Aurora, who was manning the cash register Monday.

Culture Stock aims to be much more than a bookstore. Mullins said the goal is for the store to serve as a hub for cultural activities and community programs in the previously vacant building.

The bookstore building, leased by the city and immediately east of the Paramount Arts Centre, is in the heart of what is now “a little art district,” Mullins said.

“There’s the Paramount; an art gallery across the street,” Mullins said.

And the Riverfront Playhouse is right behind Culture Stock.

Culture Stock is modeled after Open Books in Chicago, a program that promotes literacy and culture in a community — via book talks, mentoring, music events and sidewalk sales.

Books at Culture Stock range in price from $1 for beginning readers to $5 for adult hardcover books. The bookstore is still in the process of getting other media — DVDs, CDs and records — on its shelves. They will be ready to take credit cards by next week, Mullins said.

To date, more than 7,000 books have been donated to the project. Lighting, bookshelves, furniture and the store’s cash register have also been donated.

Mullins, 33, said the idea for a downtown bookstore came from L.I.F.T. Aurora board member Jeanne Norris.

“Jeanne had this bookstore idea before I ever started L.I.F.T. Aurora,” Mullins said Monday. “I met her, and we were brainstorming (from there).”

Mullins and Norris met in summer 2011 and started planning a proposal. By August 2012, they had the space and an occupancy permit by Sept. 15.

Mullins said the bookstore is truly a community effort. Her first grade teacher has volunteered to work at the store. The man who owned the building in the 1970s and childhood friend Liz Harrison of Sugar Grove both stopped by Monday to lend their support. Harrison donated dozens of books to the shop.

Mullins, a graduate of East Aurora High School, splits her time right now between Miami, Fla., and Aurora. She’s able to do that because of her flexible work schedule in hospital administration.

She said L.I.F.T. Aurora’s eight-person board has taken ownership of the bookstore project.

“I come back and forth,” Mullins said. “But I’m from here. I love it here. Aurora’s my home even though I live in Miami.”

Community programming at the shop is still in the works. People have already come forward with offers to host workshops on the Greek language, a drum circle and art therapy, she said.

Downtown Aurora and Dolan & Murphy have generously donated to the project, Mullins said. Sponsors that donate $250 of more will be recognized by in-store artwork donated by artist Jamie Glaser.

Mullins said donated books, CDs, records and DVDs can be dropped off at the store during store hours. The group is looking for volunteers to man the store, too. Anyone interested in volunteering can e-mail volunteers@liftaurora.org.



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