What wonderful news — a new bookstore! The Wise Old Owl just opened yesterday despite the pandemic! The town of Streator, Illinois now has a new community resource with a spirited, enthusiastic owner. What a gift! As the New York Times noted in a story, The Wise Old Owl’s owner Jerrilyn Zavada’s original inspiration was You’ve Got Mail, a romantic comedy that first sparked her vision of opening a bookstore. Over years and years, that spark stayed alive.
“It’s been my dream,” Jerrilyn observed. “I always thought that would be really cool.” A contributor to the “Spirit Matters” column published by the Times and NewsTribune, and a former Times reporter, according to the Times, she “wants the store to be an extension of her column, which focuses on spirituality. The store features a selection of spiritual, religious, self-help and grief books, among many other topics.”
The store is snug, but inviting. It’s cozy 12-by-18-foot-space will highlight both new and used titles, and a children’s section is already in the works. The decor showcases the shop’s owl theme, with owl paintings, photographs and statues scattered everywhere in the store. “Owls have always been fascinating to me,” Jerrilyn observed.
Jerrilyn’s family have been enthusiastic participants in her dream project and it is totally a family affair. Her brother Jeff owns the building; nephew Jordan and his girlfriend created the mural that adorns one wall; and her other brother Joe and nephew Jacob have teamed up with her to offer Schuil gourmet coffee at the shop. Niece Lexi is her assistant manager.
“Everyone has been excited,” Jerrilyn said about the community’s response to her dream taking wing amidst them. “I can’t say enough about how supportive the community has been.”
What a wonderfully inspiring story — and what a bold bookseller. Write on!
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