The Move

The original Co-op Store will moved out of its space of fifty years in October of 2012 to an above-ground, larger location at 5751 S. Woodlawn Avenue (one block east of our old location). If you have any comments or suggestions about what you would like to see in the new space, please feel free--indeed, feel encouraged--to email us at themove@semcoop.com.

Please also read our manager's letter to customers about this move.

 To the Seminary Co-op's members, customers, and friends:

In October of 2012, the Seminary Co-op's original store will move one block east from its current location at 5757 S University to a new, dramatically better space at 5751 S Woodlawn. The Co-op's new home will comprise the first floor of the building (owned by the University of Chicago) and a portion of the basement. Our new store will allow us to improve what we do now and open possibilities  to do new things not possible in our current situation. The firm ofTigerman McCurry Architects has been engaged by a committee composed of University and Co-op representatives to design the new store.

A small group of us from the Co-op--Heather Ahrenholz, Richard Barnard, and myself, along with Board member Arthur Sussman--have been meeting weekly with Stanley Tigerman, Margaret McCurry, and Mark Wieand, a University architect managing the project, to work on the design. Both Stanley, a Co-op member for twenty years, and his partner Margaret have shown an uncanny ability to take what customers have said they like about the current space and improve upon it in plans for the new spot. The new store will have windows (imagine that!), will be completely accessible, and will have operational temperature and air circulation controls. We may bring a pipe along for the occasional customer who feels nostalgic for a place to bump his or her head.

You have the word of all of us at the Co-op that the store will retain its emphasis on books, its independence, its customer-service orientation, and its sense of being a part of the Hyde Park neighborhood. Also, when you walk into the new location in a year or so, you will still realize that you are in not just a bookstore at a university, but a bookstore at the University of Chicago. Trying to live up to the expectations people at this University and in this neighborhood have of their bookstore has provided the Co-op's reason for existence for forty-nine years, and will continue to do so.

The entire cost of the move--necessary rehabilitation of the 5751 S Woodlawn building, architectural work, build-out in the new space, and the move itself--is being borne by the University of Chicago. Working with the myriad of people at the University involved in this project, from the administration, the faculty, and the staff, has been a genuine pleasure for those of us at the Co-op, and a stimulating, energizing experience. That one of the world's great universities is putting this much effort into finding a new, better home for the Co-op highlights the value the University places on our independent, customer-owned and locally grown bookstore. The store's staff will certainly remain focused on providing you, our owners and customers, with the bookstores you want and will support.

The Co-op will be forty-nine years old on Oct 27, 2010. For those forty-nine years we have had a very fine, mutually-beneficial relationship with our landlord, the Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS). Over the years, however, it had become clear to those of us at the bookstore, who work in the basement of the CTS building, that the Seminary just did not have the resources to do everything they would have liked to maintain a building of this age and complexity. There has been a substantial improvement in the care of the building in the two years since the University bought it, made possible by the expertise and financial strength that only the University can command. I for one am excited to see what this great old building will look like after the re-purposing promised by Ann Beha Architects is completed.

The Co-op will be moving soon after our fiftieth anniversary (October 27th, 2011). Hundreds of thousands of people have come through the Co-op's doors over the years, some very famous and some not, but every one important to the Co-op's ongoing story.

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to email me, stop in the store, or call us at 773 752-4381. All of us at the Co-op, staff and Board members, want you to be pleased with our new spot.


Jack Cella, General Manager


Further Reading:

Seminary Co-op Bookstore plans move next door, to McGiffert House


University Selects Award-Winning Tigerman McCurry Architects to Design New Seminary Co-op Bookstore in McGiffert House