Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Archives OUT! Guide    Marriage



Women & Children bookstore sold
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times

This article shared 15 times since Wed Jul 16, 2014
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

      More Photos

A cornerstone in Chicago's feminist and LGBT communities dating back to 1979 is transitioning and preparing for a new, modern look.

Women & Children First Bookstore, based on Clark Street in Andersonville, has been sold by longtime owners/founders Linda Bubon and Ann Christophersen to two of their current employees, Lynn Mooney and Sarah Hollenbeck, the Windy City Times has learned exclusively.

The 3,500-square-foot bookstore was put up for sale last October, and the new owners were selected—from eight formal offers—in May. The nine-member staff learned of the new owners at a staff meeting July 1—and Mooney and Hollenbeck were given a round of applause when it was announced.

"It's been hard to keep a secret, [especially] since we really couldn't talk about it with anyone," Hollenbeck said with a smile on July 13, in the first public acknowledgement by any of the four that the store had in fact been sold.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

"The continuity of the legacy [of the store] is important, building on the foundation that is here," Mooney said.

"Women & Children First Bookstore has been a critical part of Chicago's feminist and LGBT communities since the day it opened," said Tracy Baim, Windy City Times' publisher. "They have hosted thousands of authors from all backgrounds, and supported many causes in the community through their individual efforts and via the bookstore. Ann and Linda are community treasures, and mentors to myself and so many other women who followed in their footsteps as business owners."

Bubon, 63, said she is not saying goodbye to the store. "I'm just saying goodbye to ownership," she said. "So much has happened to me in the last year—to change my perspective on life. I now see myself as more than just the owner of Women & Children First, more than what I've done all my life.

"I have been guided for more than 30 years by this mission and purpose to be a feminist activist, and I've lived out that mission [through Women & Children First]. But there are other ways for me to now live out that mission. And I'm excited about those possibilities."

Mooney, 52, who lives in West Rogers Park, has worked at Women & Children First for six years, and has 25 years experience in the publishing industry, most recently as a freelancer but before that on staff at several major publishers, including HarperCollins and McGraw-Hill. She is a New York native who has lived in Chicago for the past 20 years—and on June 25 converted her civil union to Marisa L'Heureux to a marriage. The two have been together for eight years, and L'Heureux also works in publishing.

Hollenbeck, 30, lives in Edgewater and has worked at Women & Children First since last September. She has worked at numerous bookstores for years and herself is a writer, mostly nonfiction. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Northwestern University, and her essays exploring sexuality, gender, disability, and the perception of self have appeared in various literary journals and blogs, including TriQuarterly, Dogwood, and In Our Words.

Hollenbeck also has worked at Independent Publishers Group and StoryStudio, as well as large, nationally known bookstores. She is active in Chicago's exploding live literary scene, regularly attending and performing at area shows. She got engaged to Andrew Marikis, an actor, in June.

Hollenbeck, a longtime shopper at Women & Children First, learned it was for sale about a month after she started working there—and admittedly was "kind of surprised," she said. "I wasn't aware that they were considering retiring."

Hollenbeck has long worked in the book world and wanted it to be her long-term career. But, she admitted, she never considered working at/in a bookstore to be a "real job."

"I just kept thinking that, at some point, I will find a real job and then my career will start," she said.

Mooney, meanwhile, was approached about two years ago by Bubon and Christophersen about possibly buying the store. "I thought about it very seriously at the time, but there were two things [standing] in the way for me—finances; I didn't have what I needed to do it alone; and also, I didn't feel like I had all of the pieces. I'm a book person, always been a book person. I'm detail-minded, driven. But, I am not a marketer; I am not an event planner; I am not a networker."

Last December, Hollenbeck approached Mooney about jointly pursuing the business when she too realized she couldn't do it alone.

"Lynn was an obvious partner because I think we complement each other really well," Hollenbeck said. "It just made sense to approach her, to see if she wanted to partner together."

Mooney said she was "thrilled" to be asked by Hollenbeck.

Bubon and Christophersen were very clear that they would only sell to someone who would keep the store going as Women & Children First—"because this is their legacy, their life's work, and they wanted to see it continue," Mooney said.

Hollenbeck said they applied and had numerous in-depth talks with Bubon and Christophersen, and a Florida-based professional bookstore management company hired by Bubon and Christophersen.

"It was never a given that we'd be the [new owners]. We hoped that working here would give us an advantage, but they looked and considered everyone," Mooney said.

The list of candidates was narrowed to three in March.

Mooney and Hollenbeck were told they were selected to succeed Bubon and Christophersen in May, and since have been negotiating terms, planning the transition, and more.

Mooney was promoted to manager about 18 months ago, thus works full-time and is involved with the book ordering. She will continue with most of the store's book ordering, managing the staff, displays, and more.

Hollenbeck will manage the store's publicity, events, programming, and non-book items, such as cards, t-shirts and coffee mugs.

"Our vision for the store really hinges on expanding the events and programming aspect," Hollenbeck said.

Both will work full-time going forward.

"When Ann and I first started talking about selling [the business], we immediately thought of Lynn," Bubon said. "I was impressed with Sarah since her first day [working at the store].

"Both are extraordinary book lovers, and they both have extensive book store experience, which Ann and I both felt was very important [for the next owners], plus a feminist commitment. "

Mooney said she is not sure yet if they will expand beyond the store's current staff size.

Women & Children First will undergo a store renovation next January and February, Mooney confirmed.

The store will, for the most part, be open during its remodeling and the construction of a new, comfortable, dedicated event space. Hollenbeck said if they need to close due to renovation, it shouldn't be for any more than two weeks.

"We believe that we need a dedicated event space," and that's something that is being added in the area that now houses the women's studies and LGBT books, Mooney said.

"We love author-readings, but often, they just attract fans of that particular writer, not new customers. We want to attract new customers," Hollenbeck said.

They are considering adding lecture series, support groups, additional storytelling and more. Plus, they will offer the renovated space for birthday parties and other social get-togethers.

With the new dedicated event space, there will be more events, both formal and informal, scheduled for Women & Children First, and they won't be restricted on days events can be held. Plus, the option for additional lectures, both author- and idea-driven, and more also will help combat the challenges from Amazon and other online sellers.

The location of the cash register also will moved closer to a wall, Hollenbeck said, "which should make it feel more spacious."

Also around the renovation in early 2015, a new Women & Children First logo will be unveiled—centered around the ampersand "as a symbol of inclusiveness, that this is a bookstore for everyone," Mooney said, .

Both of the new owners said they mostly plan to just "tweak" the content offered at Women & Children First. "I think the [book] collection here now is a really good model into the future," Mooney said. "The store, as it's evolved over the years, has been true to its feminist roots, but also has found a way to be a neighborhood bookstore."

Mooney said there likely will be more events featuring male writers and a push for more male customers.

Feminism also, naturally, will remain important, both said.

"We have an ongoing, serious conversation among staff about feminism, and the future of feminism, and what that looks like, and how it can evolve," Mooney said. That conversation about feminism also includes men, Hollenbeck said.

Mooney confirmed that they have had discussions about re-organizing the LGBT book section, particularly within the renovation. Thus, LGBT books will be meshed within all other books, offering a higher visibility.

Mooney also confirmed that they will keep the store's name, while acknowledging the challenges that the name presents.

"There are male shoppers in here all the time, so we've done a decent job on getting the word out," Mooney said.

They plan to remain at the current location 5233 N. Clark St., Mooney said. "This is the heart of Andersonville; we love it here," Hollenbeck added.

Hollenbeck said a "huge mission" of hers is to expand the offering of locally based writers. "We want to support local writers and we want to have permanent, local author display that is more [prominent] than what we have now," she said.

Both Bubon and Christophersen, 65, will have ongoing roles at the store. Bubon will remain active at the store, working two or three days per week for the next two years. Plus, she will continue her long-running, popular children's story time, and more. Christophersen will be a consultant, mostly on business-driven projects.

See related item at the link:

This article shared 15 times since Wed Jul 16, 2014
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

BOOKS/ART Local man releases sketches by famous artist uncle
Cuban American painter Gustavo Ojeda (1958—89) is best known for lush and meditative urban nightscapes that brought him recognition in the 1980s downtown New York art scene. He exhibited works alongside artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, ...

Gay News

Five Worth Finding: Restaurants, OUT100, children's book, face mask
—Perry's Steakhouse & Grille ( This suburban spot (with two restaurants in Oak Brook and Schaumburg) is well-known for its delicious cuts of meat, sumptuous sides and hand-crafted cocktails. It's ...

Gay News

Women's soccer league announces 2021 competition framework
The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) announced a new competition framework to debut in 2021 that aims to expand opportunities for the athletes of the league to showcase the NWSL. Players will report to camp Feb. ...

Gay News

Artist Riva Lehrer talks new memoir, career, state of the world
In queer artist, writer and curator Riva Lehrer's recently released memoir Golem Girl, she takes readers on a journey through her life via the lens of her being born with spina bifida and the way that ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Marsha M. Wetzel
Marsha Marie Wetzel, advocate for the LGBTQ community, died peacefully at her Greenview Place home in Chicago, Illinois, on Nov. 1, 2020. In keeping with her faith, she passed on All Saints Day. She was preceded ...

Gay News

MUSICALS 1997 version of Anyone Can Whistle out Dec. 4
On Sunday, Dec. 4, Jay Records will release a 1997 recording of the musical Anyone Can Whistle, which originally had music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim as well as a book by Arthur Laurents. The production ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Wentworth Miller, Whitney, lesbian author, Mark Wahlberg
Out actor Wentworth Miller said he doesn't want to be involved in a new season of the TV show Prison Break if it happens, according to Deadline. On Instagram, he thanked fans for his support and ...

Gay News

The Amazon Trail: Rats fleeing a sinking ship
I've heard the idiom "like rats fleeing a sinking ship" often lately, and while the metaphor is apt for what's going on in the United States, at our house it's even more befitting. Merriam Webster notes, ...

Gay News

Chicago offers new contracts or exercises options for all 23 Chicago Red Stars players
--From a press release - CHICAGO — After the completion of the 2020 National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) end of year process, the Chicago Red Stars have announced contract statuses for all of its players. All of Chicago's 23 rostered players ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Activist John Chester remembered
Longtime LGBT activist and former Chicagoan John Chester passed away Oct. 10 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he had been living since retirement. He was 78. Chester, who was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian ...

Gay News

LGBT HISTORY: SF house includes Joplin, Log Cabin Republicans in its history
The day Peggy Caserta took acid for the first time changed her life — and that of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood — forever. "They told me it'd help me learn a book I was reading for ...

Gay News

Playwright book and lyrics by Paul Gordon, music by Paul Gordon and Jay Gruska At Skylight Music Theatre online at Tickets: $25. Runs through Dec. 31, 2020. Two things to remember when proposing to transform a ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Viola Davis, Tyler Posey, Elton John, Tegan and Sara
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom will premiere on Netflix on Dec. 18, a press release noted. The movie—based on the August Wilson play—will star Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman and Colman Domingo. In the film and ...

Gay News

WORLD Church leaders, Amnesty International, students
Pope Francis included a U.S. archbishop who has made several strong, positive statements about LGBTQ people in the group of 13 church leaders named cardinals; there are also a bishop from the island nation of Malta ...

Gay News

BOOKS Former Warner Brothers head Alan Shayne reflects on a pivotal summer
Many things happened in 1941—Pearl Harbor was attacked, the Wonder Woman comic began publication and Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in for his third term as U.S. president. It was also a pivotal year for Alan ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Archives OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.