WBEZ | Portlandia http://www.wbez.org/tags/portlandia Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Eat this, drink that: WBEZ live with Portlandia's Fred Armisen — and more http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-12/eat-drink-wbez-live-portlandias-fred-armisen-%E2%80%94-and-more-104382 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/christkindlmarketgluhwein2012.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Grab a Glühwein and join WBEZ live Thursday at the Christkindlmarket 2012 in Chicago (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></p><p><u><strong>Saturday, December 15</strong></u></p><p><em>8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.:</em>&nbsp;The Midwest Buddhist Temple <a href="http://www.midwestbuddhisttemple.org/temple-organizations.htm">Adult Sangha</a> presents the annual&nbsp;<a href="http://www.midwestbuddhisttemple.org/temple-special-events.htm#mochi">mochi-tsuki</a> at the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.midwestbuddhisttemple.org/index.shtml">temple</a>. Get there early for your chance to pick up the wooden mallet to help pound hundreds of pounds of sweet rice into the sweet rice cakes, along with karate and judo groups. Temple office manager Jesse Zavala says Mochi &quot;as big as hamburgers&quot; will be available plain or adzuki bean filled, $5 for nine pieces.&nbsp;Admission FREE.</p><p><em>10 a.m. to 12 p.m.:</em> <a href="http://culinaryhistorians.org/">Chicago Foodways Roundtable</a> presents &quot;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/pastrami-rye-overstuffed-history-jewish-deli-103570">Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli</a>&quot; at Kendall College. On the next to the last day of Hanukkah 2012, <a href="http://www.tedmerwin.com/">Ted Merwin</a>, Associate Professor of Religion &amp; Judaic Studies at Dickinson College, and author of the forthcoming book <em>Pastrami on Rye</em>, will discuss, &quot;Can the deli be resurrected?&quot; &mdash; and more. Pastrami on rye will indeed be served with &quot;sinus-clearing strong mustard&quot; &mdash; both made by my friend and culinary historian <a href="http://www.greatermidwestfoodways.com/index.php/page/14.html">Catherine Lambrecht</a> &mdash; with <a href="http://kaufmansdeli.com/wordpress/?page_id=9">Kaufman&#39;s Jewish and corn rye bread</a>. Plus, chopped chicken livers. Admission $3, FREE for Kendall staff and students with ID.</p><p><em>2 p.m. to 7 p.m.:</em> Merry <a href="http://www.fischmanliquors.com/2012/10/fisch-mas-chrismas-at-fisch.html">Fisch-mas</a> at <a href="http://www.fischmanliquors.com/p/welcome.html">Fischman&#39;s Liquors</a>.&nbsp;Taste the 12 craft beers of Christmas, including rare seasonal ales, with <a href="http://thewagyuwagon.com/index2.php#/home/">The Wagyu Wagon</a>&nbsp;grilling burgers (yes Virginia, there&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-07/go-northwest-young-food-truck-jefferson-park-next-wicker-park-bucktown-%E2%80%94-or">cooking in a food truck</a>). Plus bring in your favorite beer bottle and glass blower&nbsp;<a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/nickpaul">Nick Paul of Windy City Glass</a>&nbsp;can transform it into a drinking glass or vase.&nbsp;Admission $30 advance, $35 on Saturday.</p><p><em>6 p.m. to 10 p.m.:</em> The <a href="http://sunbrosstudios.com/">Sun Bros</a> presents <a href="http://sunbrosstudios.com/2012/11/21/partyfaq/">The <em>Chinatown</em> Launch Party</a> at <a href="http://www.experimentalstation.org/event/chinatown-graphic-novel">The Experimental Station</a>.&nbsp;Celebrate the release of Sun Bros first <a href="http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/364698788/chinatown-a-graphic-novel">graphic novel, <em>Chinatown</em></a> and the one-year anniversary of the Studios. There will be Chinese bakery pastries, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Rabbit_Creamy_Candy">White Rabbit Creamy Candy</a>, <a href="http://www.eatwisconsincheese.com/wisconsin/other_dairy/health_nutrition/lactose_intolerance.aspx">cheese</a>, and hors d&rsquo;oeuvres from Chicago&rsquo;s Chinatown, plus wine and non-alcoholic drinks. Admission FREE but <a href="http://new.evite.com/#view_invite:eid=0339NC2ZTL7RSYATAEPCGAIBDARI6I">RSVP</a>.</p><p><em>8 a.m. to 11 p.m.:</em> <a href="http://www.grazemagazine.org/"><em>Graze</em> magazine</a> presents <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/170309856447490">Holiday Bizarre: Festive Food Fiascoes</a> at <a href="http://gaslightcoffeeroasters.com/blogs/gaslight-coffee-roasters-1">Gaslight Coffee Roasters</a>. Tell your five-minute holiday food fiasco story live on stage. Complimentary Gaslight coffee, Marion Street cheese, Smoking Goose meat, Paper Moon pastries, and a Letherbee Distillers gin cocktail will be served. Admission FREE but BYOB.</p><p><u><strong>Monday, December 17</strong></u></p><p>The Hungry Hound himself, our <a href="http://stevedolinsky.com/?p=10015">friend Steve Dolinksy</a>, hosts the second annual <a href="http://holidayrockandroll.eventbrite.com/">Holiday Rock &amp; Roll</a> at Café des Architectes, benefiting <a href="http://www.nokidhungry.org/">Share Our Strength</a>. Taste <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/louisa-chu/2011-12-15/holiday-competition-sofitel-takes-cake-94941">modern takes on the classic French <em>bûche de Noël</em></a> &mdash; aka yule log &mdash; from seven of the best pastry chefs in the city then cast your vote. Competing chefs include Acadia&#39;s Thomas Raquel, Balena&#39;s Amanda Rockman,&nbsp;Blackbird&#39;s Dana Cree, NoMI&#39;s Meg Galus,&nbsp;Perennial Virant&#39;s Elissa Narow, RM Champagne Salon&#39;s Nate Meads,&nbsp;and Sepia&#39;s Cindy Schuman. Savory rolled bites by Café des Architectes&#39;&nbsp;Greg Biggers, plus Stout Barrel House, Maison, and Carnivale will also be served, with punch bowl cocktails. Admission $35.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/site/Calendar/769211460?view=Detail&amp;id=112883&amp;whence=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.chicagosfoodbank.org%2Fsite%2FPageServer%3Fpagename%3Devnt_cal%26AddInterest%3D1041">Holiday Food Drive</a> at <a href="http://thepublicanrestaurant.com/">the Publican</a> is back until December 23, benefitting the <a href="http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/site/PageServer?pagename=homepage">Greater Chicago Food Depository</a>. Please bring a non-perishable food donation to receive one drink ticket. As usual, the Publican will provide snacks, and everyone who donates will have a chance to win special raffle prizes. The most needed items are beans, canned fruit, canned vegetables, cereal, chili, jelly, macaroni and cheese, pasta, pasta sauce, peanut butter, rice, shelf-stable milk, soup, stew, and tuna. Or simply <a href="http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/site/PageServer?pagename=diff_donate">donate funds now</a>. Admission FREE but please donate.</p><p><u><strong>Thursday, December 20</strong></u></p><p>WBEZ presents <a href="http://www.wbez.org/afternoon-shift-remote-broadcast-christkindlmarket-edition-104362"><em>The Afternoon Shift</em> Remote Broadcast: Christkindlmarket Edition</a>, hosted by Rick Kogan with very special guests Fred Armisen of <em>SNL</em> and&nbsp;<em>Portlandia</em>, Richard Marx, and yours truly. Grab some <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-12/currywurst-yes-there-ketchup-hot-dog-and-curry-too-104155">currywurst</a>, Glühwein, and perhaps a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-12/kinder-surprise-2500-contraband-chocolate-egg-104292">contraband chocolate egg</a> and join us.&nbsp;Admission FREE.</p></p> Fri, 14 Dec 2012 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-12/eat-drink-wbez-live-portlandias-fred-armisen-%E2%80%94-and-more-104382 Weekender: '30s era jazz, contemporary craft and the futuristic film Prometheus! http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-06/weekender-30s-era-jazz-contemporary-craft-and-futuristic-film-prometheus <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/winnipeg.jpg" style="height: 410px; width: 620px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px;" title="Sketch of the City of Winnipeg Manitoba 1882 (Manitoba Historical Maps/flickr)" /></div><p>Summer hasn&rsquo;t officially started but Weekender&rsquo;s decided to take a short vacation. Or at least I&rsquo;m heading out &ndash; home to see some of my family in Winnipeg.</p><p>I&rsquo;ve had many friends and acquaintances pass through and ask me for a list of places and things to see &ndash; <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY9BtROpNQ4">&ldquo;my Winnipeg&rdquo;</a> I guess. And since in Chicago I&rsquo;ve developed this strange sideline-slash-job as a weekend planner, I thought I&rsquo;d share some of the sights and sounds I&rsquo;ll be sure to check out on my visit.</p><p>My hometown sometimes gets a bad rap &ndash; I remember reading a line from a Faulkner novel in which a character, looking out over a desolate scene, likens it to other remote and unhappy places, including Winnipeg! Even locals have their issues -- <a href="http://www.winnipeglovehate.com/">check out this blog</a> documenting what the photographer calls &quot;the most beautiful, most repulsive city in the world.&quot;</p><p>But the city has actually thrived and its population remained pretty stable, at least in part because it has such a great arts and culture scene. Winnipeg has all the high-end establishments &ndash; a symphony, ballet and contemporary art museum. But it&rsquo;s also always had a great underground scene &ndash; from punk to speakeasies to art collectives.</p><p>This trip I&rsquo;ll visit <a href="http://plugin.org/">Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art</a>, which started out as an artist-run center and has over the years morphed into a player within the international art scene. I think this is one of the places that provided my early multi-media arts education. Plug In is celebrating its 40th anniversary in <a href="http://plugin.org/news/200910/plug-in-ica-and-university-winnipeg-break-ground-new-site">amazing new digs</a>, so I&rsquo;ll be checking out both the latest exhibit and the new space.</p><p>Since I&rsquo;ve invoked film -- and&nbsp; Guy Madden -- a trip to <a href="http://www.winnipegfilmgroup.com/">The Winnipeg Film Group </a>is obviously in order (besides it&#39;s not far from Plug In!). The Group&rsquo;s Cinematheque is where Madden&rsquo;s<em> Tales from the Gimli Hospital </em>debuted (he&rsquo;s still an honorary member), and they&rsquo;ve helped launch the careers of many other film talents, with screenings and classes. The week I&rsquo;m home they&rsquo;ll screen <em><a href="http://www.winnipegfilmgroup.com/cinematheque/family_portrait_in_black_and_white.aspx">Family Portrait in Black and White</a></em> though I wish I was going to be there the following week for this <a href="http://www.winnipegfilmgroup.com/cinematheque/noam_gonick_wildflower_of_manitoba_web.aspx">retrospective.</a></p><p>There are thrift stores and parks and neighborhoods I&#39;ll hit up (I love franco-manitobain <a href="http://www.ccfm.mb.ca/">St. Boniface</a>) but I&#39;m going to make extra sure to visit of my favorite restaurants. <a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/332/1450424/restaurant/Downtown/Wagon-Wheel-Winnipeg">The Wagon Wheel Lunch</a> is an old school hole-in-the-wall in downtown Winnipeg. Their club sandwich is amazingly good &ndash; made with roast turkey they prepare fresh every day. It used to be a regular hangout for journalists from the nearby offices of the <em>Winnipeg Free Press</em>.</p><p>But lots has changed &ndash; the original owner died a few years ago and Franny Gomez took over &ndash; she&rsquo;s worked there since emigrating to Winnipeg from El Salvador more than 20 years ago. Now there&rsquo;s a major do-over planned for downtown, which means <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/wagon-wheel-rolling-till-july-139145499.html">the building housing the Wagon Wheel will be torn down</a>.</p><p>Gomez doesn&rsquo;t know if she&rsquo;ll relocate or not, but they&rsquo;ve got the current spot until July so I&rsquo;ve got time for one more sandwich and chocolate milkshake. Though<a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/another-downtown-icon-falls-157729695.html"> given the extent of gentrification on the way</a> &ndash; which includes removing entire blocks of historic Winnipeg - a whole bunch of my city may be gone next trip back.</p><p>A great Chicago weekend awaits you below &ndash; and we&rsquo;ll see you back on Weekender June 22!&nbsp; In the meantime, get out there, and enjoy!</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3%20walls.jpg" style="height: 143px; width: 239px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /></div><p><a href="http://www.three-walls.org/support/fundraisers/"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>1. The New Gotham Ballroom</strong></span></a></p><p>Friday 6:30 p.m. - 1:00 a.m.</p><p>Threewalls art center holds its annual spring benefit by going back to a 1930s jazz club!</p><p><a href="http://stanmansion.com/#/home">Stan Mansion</a>&nbsp;&nbsp; 2408 N. Kedzie Ave</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jazz%20cabaret-Joan%20Collaso3.jpg" style="height: 158px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /><a href="http://www.jazzinchicago.org/presents/jazzcity/jazz-cabaret-joan-collasso-tribute-nancy-wilson-and-shirley-horn"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>2. Jazz Cabaret: Joan Collaso: Tribute to Nancy Wilson &amp; Shirley Horn</strong></span></a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Friday 7 p.m.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Two - well three - jazz sirens for the price of one show!</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Columbus Park Refectory&nbsp;&nbsp; 5701 W. Jackson Blvd</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/constructor.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://constructorcraftfair.wordpress.com/"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>3. Constructor Craft Fair</strong></span></a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Saturday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Design-driven craft from and for the western suburbs (and others too!)</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.fitzgeraldsnightclub.com/">FitzGerald&#39;s</a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">6615 Roosevelt Rd.&nbsp;&nbsp; Berwyn, IL</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/GirlShySLIDESHOW_610_407_sha_s_c1.jpg" style="height: 160px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong><a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/features/girl-shy">4. Girl Shy with Live Organ Accompaniment</a></strong></span></div></div><p>Saturday 12 p.m.</p><p>Local organist Dennis Scott brings the soundtrack!</p><p><a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/">The Music Box Theatre</a></p><p>3733 N. Southport Ave.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Prometheus_movie_05.jpg" style="height: 160px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /></div><p><a href="http://www.projectprometheus.com/"><span style="font-size:16px;"><strong>5. Prometheus</strong></span></a></p><p>Opening Friday</p><p>Is it an <em>Alien</em> prequel?&nbsp; Is it any good? These questions and more can only be answered in the dark of a movie or IMAX theater.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/eternals.jpg" style="height: 161px; width: 240px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="" /><strong><a href="http://explorechicago.org/city/en/things_see_do/event_landing/events/dca_tourism/DTS061112.html">6. The Eternals &amp; Wild Belle</a></strong></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Monday 6:30 p.m.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The local trio grows more members to debut a new work - Espiritu Zombi Suite!</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Pritzker Pavilion&nbsp;&nbsp; Millennium Park</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><p><strong>Click <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/weekender/id469524810" target="_blank">here</a> to subscribe to the <em>Weekender</em> podcast.</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>What&#39;re you up to this weekend? Let us know in the comments below or email weekender@wbez.org</strong></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 08 Jun 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-06/weekender-30s-era-jazz-contemporary-craft-and-futuristic-film-prometheus What’s killing feminist book stores? http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-07-13/what%E2%80%99s-killing-feminist-book-stores-89108 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-13/Alison Bechdel at Women and Children First_Flickr_Annie Kate.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A few weeks ago a reporter friend of mine who grew up in Portland, OR shared an article on Facebook that appeared in the June 22<sup>nd</sup> edition of the <em>Willamette Week</em>, one of Portland’s weekly alternative newspapers.</p><p><a href="http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-17649-at_a_loss_for_words.html">The article she shared</a> profiled <a href="http://inotherwords.org/">In Other Words</a>, a shop it described as the West Coast’s “last feminist bookstore,” and came with my friend’s astonishing pull-quote: &nbsp;“There are nine feminist bookstores left in America.”</p><p style="margin-left: 40px;"><em>In Other Words is sliding toward financial collapse. The Women’s Community Education Project, which runs the bookstore, ran $18,743 in the red last year. This month, the store laid off its only two employees. Annual sales are down 73 percent from where they were four years ago.</em></p><p style="margin-left: 40px;"><em>The number of feminist bookstores nationwide has dropped to nine. In Other Words’ board members acknowledge the store may be headed for closure—and the next-closest bookstore dedicated solely to women’s issues is in Austin, Texas.</em></p><p>In explaining the store’s decline the article referenced a series of snarky, deadpan comedy sketches created by IFC’s <a href="http://www.ifc.com/portlandia/?utm_source=google&amp;utm_medium=cpc&amp;utm_term=portlandia&amp;utm_campaign=original%20series">Portlandia</a>, filmed at In Other Words.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Ohk-Ey01c9k" width="560" frameborder="0" height="349"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/msEfgBfXAW0" width="560" frameborder="0" height="349"></iframe></p><p>Shae Healy, the article’s author, writes that “parody is often a barbed compliment…and the truth in the satire may be helping kill the 18-year-old bookstore.”</p><p>Healy cites a number of factors that have contributed to In Other Word’s money-troubles, including market forces and the changing relevance of feminism to a new generation of women. But something about the claim that “truth in satire” was a cause of the store’s decline stuck with me. Could there really be only one feminist book store left on the West Coast&nbsp; -- nothing in San Francisco? Or Seattle? -- and only nine left in the whole country? And was this really why?</p><p>The name of <em>Portlandia’s</em> fictional bookstore, Women and Women First, seemed too much of a coincidence for anyone who’s been to Chicago’s own feminist bookstore, <a href="http://www.womenandchildrenfirst.com/">Women and Children First</a>. &nbsp;The explicitly feminist institution in Andersonville recently celebrated its 31<sup>st</sup> birthday; Fred Armisen, <em>Portlandia’s</em> co-creator, lived in Chicago for several years in the late ‘80s and ‘90s.</p><p>Reading Healy’s story in the <em>Willamette Week</em> made me want to talk to Linda Bubon, who co-owns Women and Children First with business partner Ann Christophersen. What did Bubon think was killing feminist bookstores? And how is her business faring, for that matter? We spoke on the phone in late June.</p><p><strong>WBEZ: </strong>Have you seen the comedy sketches [about feminist bookstores] that aired on the TV show <em>Portlandia</em>?</p><p><strong>Bubon:</strong> (Laughing) Yes, I saw one of them. I think the whole sketch is so funny. It’s so totally the opposite of how we operate here. It’s so customer-first here. The idea that you’d lock a customer in and go to lunch or something like that is such a wonderful parody and far-fetched. I don’t think it bears any relationship other than it is really funny.</p><p><strong>WBEZ: </strong>The thing I found interesting about the <em>Willamette Week</em> article was that it took this tack of, well this is a parody, but it raises the question: Are the things they’re being satirized for actually causing bookstores to go out of business?</p><p><strong>Bubon:</strong> No, it’s much bigger market forces. I mean, in the ‘80s we had about 60 independent book stores throughout the suburbs and Chicago proper. And were they all great bookstores? No. They certainly weren’t all great bookstores. But so many really great book stores have closed. I go to every <a href="http://www.bookweb.org/index.html">American Booksellers Association</a> conference, and you just see the struggles people have had. Some stores have closed because they were bad stores. But way more stores have closed because of market forces, chain store competition and more recently, online competition.</p><p><strong>WBEZ: </strong>I found it shocking to think that there are only 9 feminist bookstores left in the country. How does that square with your sense of the landscape?</p><p><strong>Bubon:</strong> It’s true. There were 100 self-described feminist book stores in 1990 and fewer than 10 left now. So roughly 90 percent of those stores have gone away. That’s a shocking and horrible statistic, but we’re also looking at 70 to 80 percent of independent bookstores, period, have closed in that same amount of time. So we’re not so out of line with other kinds of independent bookstores. Some of the finest and most established stores in the country have closed in the last 15 years. Or I guess it’s almost 20 years now.</p><p>And at first those closings in the ‘90s were due to the expansion of chain bookstores. If you looked at our business through the ‘90s we had steady growth from the time we opened in ’79 until 1992. And when the chains started moving into the city our sales dropped 14 percent in two years. We really had to make some changes to accommodate that and stay in business, including taking some loans and changing our staffing. We started selling textbooks at area universities as a way of bringing in extra money, we started doing a lot more conferences and out-of-store sales to compensate for the traffic the chains were taking away from us.</p><p>So things were back on an even keel by 2000 and in the first 5 years of the new millennium Amazon.com really took hold. Once they stopped selling just books and started into all the appliances and hardware and the millions of other things that they sell, they could begin to use books as a loss leader. That means they offer books for the same price they buy them at or even less. They are often selling books at a 40 percent discount, which is virtually the same as the discount we get from the publishers.</p><p><strong>WBEZ: </strong>And so how did that affect your business?</p><p><strong>Bubon:</strong> That has been really difficult to cope with. People still came in and shopped. They were also taking note of books they wanted and went on Amazon and bought them.</p><p><strong>WBEZ: </strong>Did people tell you that?</p><p><strong>Bubon:</strong> Oh yeah, unabashedly. I’d have people call and say, “I want to buy 3 copies of this new book and Amazon has it for $18.65.” And I’d say, “I’m sorry, it’s $29.95.” “Oh well. Guess I’ll get it from Amazon unless you can sell it to me for the same price.” You know, no, I can’t. So it really became much more difficult and we watched our sales steadily decline.</p><p>Then, I believe it was in 2007, we were looking at our sales decreasing again for another year and my business partner and I sat down night after night with the figures and came to the conclusion that we couldn’t afford both of our salaries if we were to stay in business. And so for 4 years she only worked one day a week and took another full time job at a bookstore software company. And I ran the store with a lot of part time employees. And I think while many of those independent book stores had closed in the 1990s, certainly in the early 2000s we saw a lot more of them go away. People were maybe unable to do what we were able to do: one partner taking a lower salary, working with fewer staff.</p><p><strong>WBEZ: </strong>How has your business been affected by the economic downturn of the last couple years?</p><p><strong>Bubon:</strong> The recession kept Ann at her other job and kept us real lean here. We didn’t really drop much in sales, maybe a couple percent a year. It wasn’t a real dire situation, but regardless of what we were doing we weren’t boosting sales.</p><p>And then, our 30<sup>th</sup> anniversary was a couple years ago and we had another big fund raiser and had a lot of press coverage around that. And then we felt a little more economically stable, and last year Ann came back to work on an almost full time basis. We both work 4 days a week now and take an hourly salary, which is somewhat less than what we were making in 2000. We pay ourselves around $20 an hour. Salary-wise it’s a little under $40,000 a year. Probably if I’d gone into teaching I’d be doing a little better. (Laughing) But I wouldn’t be having nearly as much fun.</p><p><strong>WBEZ: </strong>You mentioned when we spoke on the phone yesterday that the closing of the Borders stores in Chicago has had an impact on your business.</p><p><strong>Bubon:</strong> I thought our first quarter of the year was pretty disastrously slow but lately I would say the last couple months, and this has to have something with all four Borders stores around us closing, business seems to be picking up.</p><p>But you know, back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, Costco didn’t sell books. Wal-Mart and K-Mart and Target weren’t book sellers. Through the ‘90s the various avenues for book sales just grew by leaps and bounds. Independent bookstores that made up 30 to 40 percent of the market shrank to 15 percent of the market. And it’s not just because of Barnes and Noble and Borders, and Books-A-Million in the south, or because of Amazon. It’s also because of these other hugely discounting retailers who use books as a loss leader. I remember going to Costco when I was running low on the last Harry Potter book and I was able to buy 50 or 100 copies at Costco for frankly a few percentage points lower than I bought it from Scholastic directly.</p><p><strong>WBEZ: </strong>And were you able to do that because…</p><p><strong>Bubon:</strong> Because Costco is using it as a loss leader. You know, I ordered 700 copies from Scholastic. I got as good a discount as they did. But I couldn’t afford to sell it below cost. But because Costco sells a few more things than books (laughing) they could sell it below costs.</p><p><strong>WBEZ: </strong>You don’t also sell 27-gallon jugs of olive oil?</p><p><strong>Bubon:</strong> Right. (Laughing) 500-count bottles of Tylenol.</p><p>The fact that we can now sell e-books and compete with Barnes and Noble and Amazon with e-books…</p><p><strong>WBEZ: </strong>Is that a relatively new thing for you?</p><p><strong>Bubon:</strong> It’s relatively new. It’s since January that we’ve been selling Google e-books on our website. It’s taken a lot of education of the public because they don’t see us as an e-books seller. It’s a very small percentage of our sales, less than 1 percent. But it’s growing. In 2010 we did around $850,000 in total sales. I’m cautiously hopeful.</p><p><strong>WBEZ: </strong>Do you think the decrease in the number of feminist bookstores nationwide says anything about America’s relationship with feminism or the relevance of feminism, or is it really just about the economic factors we’ve been talking about?</p><p><strong>Bubon:</strong> I don’t think feminism is any less relevant. But I think it’s evolved and changed, or else it wouldn’t be relevant. Some issues, like reproductive rights, are more under attack now than they’ve been for 20 years. And I don’t think women feel any less passionately about reproductive freedoms than they did in the ‘70s and ‘80s. And with 1.5 million women suing Wal-Mart…</p><p>We’ve had very close contact with the women’s studies programs at DePaul and Northwestern and other schools, and those women’s studies programs have grown and grown through the 1990s and 2000s. They are robust programs. Loyola now offers a master’s degree; I think DePaul does, too. I mean, we ask right on our job application, “Would you describe yourself as a feminist? What does that mean to you?” I can’t tell you how our applications have increased over the last 15 years because all these young women are being educated in women’s studies and feminism. And they like it! And they want to work at the feminist book store in Chicago.</p></p> Wed, 13 Jul 2011 19:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-07-13/what%E2%80%99s-killing-feminist-book-stores-89108