Sue Boucher, the owner of Lake Forest Books in Lake Forest, Ill. for the past 18 years, has joined the growing number of Chicagoland booksellers moving into retirement: she sold the 64-year-old store to its bookkeeper, Eleanor Thorn. The sale was finalized on October 8. Boucher started the process about two years ago of looking for a buyer for the bookstore, located in one of the wealthy communities lining Chicago’s north shore since 1949. She told PW that she sold the store because her husband, a theater stagehand, "retired young," and the couple has wanted “for a long time” to move to Michigan.
“This seemed like the right time,” she told PW by phone from her new home in northern Michigan, adding that she had also been committed to finding a local buyer for the store. “[Lake Forest Books] captured [Thorn’s] heart like it captured mine 18 years ago.”
Earlier this year, Roberta Rubin sold the Book Stall at Chestnut Court in nearby Winnetka, to spend more time with family, write, and travel. Jack Cella, the general manager of Hyde Park's Seminary Co-op for the past 43 years, and his wife, Laura Prail, the manager of its sister store, 57th Street Books, both retired earlier this month; they are moving this week to Duluth, Minn. where they have bought a house. And Ann Christophersen and Linda Bubon placed Women & Children First on the market recently, telling PW at the Heartland booksellers trade show earlier this month that they are ready to retire after 34 years of running the Andersonville bookstore.
Boucher will commute back and forth between Michigan and Illinois to assist with the transition between ownership through the holiday season and, “as needed,” she said. She doesn’t intend to leave bookselling, however, after the transition has been completed: she will work part-time at the Cottage Bookshop, in Glen Arbor, Mich., near the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It’s “another wonderful independent bookstore,” she wrote in a letter she sent to Lake Forest Books’ customers Tuesday morning.
Thorn has worked at Lake Forest Books for the past 18 months. The 12-14 employees currently working at the store will continue in their positions.Thorn did not have previous bookselling experience previous to her employment at Lake Forest Books, but she has "a lot of years of retail experience" and intends to "count upon" the staff's expertise. "We counted it all up, and they have a combined 158 years of experience," she told PW.