As printed in Suburban Life Publications
By ERIC SCHELKOPF
Photo credit: Eric Schelkopf – firstname.lastname@example.org
Annex store will be on Hale Street
WHEATON – Since 2014, Prairie Path Books has been a place to gather and read books.
The store will offer another place to gather as it gets ready to open an annex store later this year at 102 N. Hale St. in downtown Wheaton in the space currently occupied by Elements & Starrs boutique.
Plans are for the annex store to open in September after Labor Day, said Prairie Path Books owner Sandy Koropp, an avid reader and longtime Wheaton resident who owns the store with longtime friend Jenny Riddle.
Prairie Path Books is located at 302 E. Wesley St. in Wheaton, tucked inside Toms-Price Home Furnishings.
“We’re going to call [the new store] Prairie Path Books Annex,” Koropp said. “Our first store is remaining open. We’re still strongly event driven because we started that way, and we love gathering people together. It’s the most important thing we do, other than connecting people with great reads. Our actual trademark is ‘Prairie Path Books (Gatherings and Great Reads).’ That is what I want to offer, face-to-face interaction.”
The store hosts a variety of events on a regular basis. For example, it recently held a discussion of the best new books to read this spring, and it has cooking demonstrations on a regular basis.
With the opening of the new space, Koropp said she hopes to see new customers.
“Right now, people are driving over to find me,” she said. “I don’t have a lot of people just walking in and browsing. So I have kind of a devoted readership that comes over looking for a particular book or looking to be inspired by the literature we really are strong on. So I’m looking forward to learning what foot traffic is like and what the folks will want to read. We will certainly start with our bestsellers and our favorite new reads.”
Downtown Wheaton Association Executive Director Paula Barrington said she thought the idea of an annex was a great idea.
“That’s going to capture even more people that might not always be aware that there is a book store in downtown Wheaton,” she said. “Plus, her annex will also be another activity center. Prairie Path Books is really good about doing a lot of in-store events, so that annex will create another destination for people.”
Along with new books, the annex store will sell gift items related to reading, such as reading glasses, mugs, lounge wear, candles, blankets, jewelry inspired by quotations and coffee.
“We feature items that are particularly appealing to readers, but they fall into the lifestyle category,” Koropp said. “It’s basically gift items, but with a focus on how readers live.”
The store also plans to offer memberships soon, and it will be partnering with Wheaton-based roaster I Have a Bean.
“Owner Pete Leonard will be offering coffee and selling beans in our store,” Koropp said. “I’m addicted to coffee, and his coffee is the best.”
Prairie Path Books is one of the few independent book stores still open in the area. Koropp said she is pleased with what the store can offer customers.
“I think what we do is gather people together with what we hope are inspiring events,” she said. “And we take a lot of pride in buying books that we’re really excited about and that will challenge and inspire any reader.”