The Book Tour Diaries, Chicago
Chicago is great. Period. I've been to Chicago the most of any other city in the U.S. (and the world, for that matter). I seriously considered moving here before I got set on the Vegas move.
What you should know about Chicago is that they have the biggest and best travel store in the country. Period. My events have been hit (Sand) or miss (Panties) with The Savvy Traveller, but it hasn't mattered, they still sell well. The staff love Travelers' Tales, and the owners, Sandye and Iris, have become friends over the years.
This year, The Savvy Traveller is celebrating their 20th Anniversary. Wow. I was thrilled to be included in their anniversary events, and it was hard to hear Sandye's disappointment when she told me they had to cancel, not just mine, but all the events due to changes in the building. Still, I had to stop by and say hello.
I came by a little after 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, the day of Chicago's marathon. Scaffolding covered the walkway in front of the large storefront windows, and I wondered just how much would be changed on the inside due to condo renovations. To my surprise, the store was in much better shape than I had anticipated. Their stock is immense.
Sandye poured me some wine, and we sat down to catch up. Two things are going on. One, they will postpone their anniversary celebrations until next year. Secondly, they are selling the store. But things don't seem downtrodden and depressing like I've seen with the closing of other stores. This one is more a changing of the guards. Or will be.
I was fascinated to hear their take on what sells in the store. Tchochkis and neck pillows. And though we didn't have a traditional event, our meeting was productive and we have plans to work together in the future.
The highlight of the day was when Mike Pugh of Vagabonding.com stopped by. He has recently moved to Chicago for a full time job, and I was happy to see him. He had caught up on Written Road and, concerned about my fast food junkie post, brought me the most delicious apple I've ever had. It was from Standley's market, and brought up fond memories for Sandye. Back in the day she had gone to Standley's with her father. Our group was also joined by a couple planning a trip to Mexico. We talked and talked about travel, business, and drank our wine. One person came in and asked me to sign her copy of Thong, in addition to our new friends Tim and Kali.
The worst part of the day included hearing that three people had showed up the previous day and had not heard of the event change. In addition, I forgot to take pictures of the window displays. The Savvy Traveller had close to 100 books of the Leo Trio. I signed many, and went on my way.
But I wasn't done spreading the good Thong word. Here are some pictures from my stop in Andersonville, a neighborhood within Chicago.
The Limo at Women and Children First
I found Thong on their bookshelves. Tish welcomed me to sign them, asked where in Chicago I was reading at, and encouraged me to come back for an event on another tour.