The Magic Tree Bookstore, which was granted $6,500 in author James Patterson’s $1 million giveaway to independent bookstores, was recently honored with a proclamation from the community of Oak Park, Illinois. After an article about the grant ran in the local newspaper, the town was inspired to recognize the store’s many contributions to the community, said Magic Tree co-owner Iris Yipp.
The proclamation commemorates The Magic Tree Bookstore for hosting children’s authors and illustrators on the premises and at local schools and other meeting places, and introducing children to a lifelong love of reading. The proclamation goes on to say, “The bookstore has collaborated with other local businesses to promote books and visits to nearby businesses through events such as Find Waldo Local, helping to spread the message to shop locally while providing a literary-based family activity.”
Magic Tree has been serving Oak Park since 1984, when Yipp and Rose Joseph realized the community lacked a bookstore for children. “Over the years our goal has shifted to promoting literacy, and to emphasize different cultures. We wanted to reflect our very diverse community while making books and stories fun. Kids nowadays are always set in front of a screen. We want to create lifelong readers,” said Yipp.
When she heard about Patterson’s indie bookstore campaign, Yipp promptly wrote a letter nominating Magic Tree for a grant. News that the store was chosen as a recipient came at the perfect time, explained Yipp. “When we got an e-mail saying we could have the money, the computers were on and off and our printer had died,” she said. “We knew exactly what we needed to use it for.” The funds were used on a receipt printer, CD player, upgraded software, and installation of the new technology.
In June, after 30 years of service to the community, Yipp and Joseph announced their plans to retire. The Magic Tree Bookstore is now up for sale and the owners hope to leave after this holiday season comes to an end. “I’m grateful for all the support we’ve had from the community. When people read in the paper that we were selling, many came in to ask if everything was okay. They love the bookstore,” said Yipp. A number of people have come forward with an interest in buying Magic Tree, but no deal has been made as yet. The owners hope to have someone to sign a lease by December 1, 2014.
Though they’re ready to close this chapter of their lives, Yipp said, that she and Joseph will miss being in the store and being a part of its many festivities. “We’ve been here a very long time. Long enough that the children of children who came here when we opened now come in to buy books. It’s fun. You never know who you’ll meet or who’ll walk through that door.”