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Our history dates back to 1875 when our great-great grandfather Wickel opened W. W. Wickel Pharmacy in Naperville, IL. Naperville was a small farming town at that time, and our great-great grandfather and his son-in-law Louis Oswald sold books along with all of the other items in the store. Surviving the depression, Oswald’s, or Ozzie’s as many people came to call it, became ingrained in our town’s mindset. Naperville has now grown to over 145,000, making it the fourth largest city in Illinois.
In 1964 our grandfather opened our first official bookstore above the drugstore, calling it Paperback Paradise. Since then we have expanded and moved several times, opening our Downers Grove store in 1980 and a children’s wholesale warehouse bookfair company, Anderson’s Bookfair Company (ABCFairs), in 1982. Our bookfair company has grown and moved 5 times from being in the basement of our Downers Grove store to our warehouse in Aurora. Last November we opened Two Doors East, an eclectic and unique gift store, just two doors down from our Naperville bookshop.
The members 5th generation that own and run the businesses today all started to work at a very young age at our family’s drugstore. Working along side with your grandfather, parents, brothers, sister, and children is a family tradition that creates community within your family, and reaches your employees, your customers, and beyond your brick and mortar location. Each generation of our family has offered new touches and ideas to keep us innovative, fresh and exciting. We are general stores with a commitment to the communities in which we do business. In 2010, we begin our 135th year in business with the sixth generation of the family now working in our stores. We celebrate our 46th anniversary of our Naperville store, 31 years in Downers Grove and 28 years with ABCFairs.
In July 2005, we moved our drugstore, Oswald’s Pharmacy, from the location where it stood for 129 years to a much larger location less than a mile away. We added a 1,500 sq. ft. book and toy section, with both adult and juvenile titles. It is now the best-selling section in the store outside of the prescription department and durable medical goods. Healing drugs and great reads, a combination that treats body and soul, has worked for us for 135 years!
Undertaking a major renovation in 2008 in our Naperville store was a gamble, but one we were determined to make. So much was going on with the economy that most advice was to control any major capital expenditures in any business, rather than undertake a major store addition/remodel. Updating our look required the elimination of an office, hall space and walls, turning that into 500 additional square feet of sales floor. We created a new entrance, replaced our service desk and our front counters. Our ceiling was raised, opening the whole look of the store. A fresh paint scheme brightened the space. New signage now assists customers. We built two new bathrooms. A new audio system was installed to offer a better sound quality for our visiting authors. Overall, we ushered in a new, welcoming appeal that has earned us rave reviews from our public. Authors returning for events just love the newly remodeled store. It has provided so much more space for us to provide service to our customers and community.
With the addition of Two Doors East we have increased our footprint on the streetscape of Jefferson Avenue in Downtown Naperville. When this space became available, we again knew we had to take advantage of a great opportunity to increase our business, creating a very unique shop for all consumers looking for that right gift or personal purchase. Once again, we knew we had to take a chance in spite of a difficult economic environment in retail, and it has proven to be a great move. So many of our customers love the new store, and we have attracted many new customers to both Two Doors East and Anderson’s Bookshops. We have six generations that have lived and breathed this community; we are here to stay, thrive, and help make it a great place for all with whom we come in contact.
Our Mission Statement:
- To share a passion and knowledge of books to create lifelong readers.
- To provide a place where the exchange of ideas and thoughts have a diverse playing field.
- To open the door for journeys of the mind and spirit.
- To be a destination for our community to keep open the dialogue of free speech and free expression.
- To be a part of our greater community in support of education and the greater good.
- To be a place of good company, great reads, and engaging conversations for all ages.
Awards and Recognition
2001 Retail Business of the Year - Naperville Chamber of Commerce
2002 Illinois Family Business of the Year Loyola University Family Business Center
2002 Exemplary Partnership Award - Illinois State Board of Education
2002 Business and Education District 204
2002 Lucille Pannell Award - Best Children’s Bookseller (General store) for the best bookseller of children’s books in the nation
2002 Charles S. Haslam Award for Excellence in Bookselling - Becky Anderson Wilkins
2003 Business and Education Award Naperville Dist. 203
2005 Outstanding Alumni Award Naperville Central H.S. - Becky Anderson Wilkins
2006 New York State Reading Association Excellence Award
2006 Illinois State Board of Education’s Award of Excellence for community volunteerism - Becky Anderson Wilkins
2007 James Patterson Page Turner Award: buyer Mary Yockey
2007 Chicago Tribune Chicago’s 10 Best Bookstores
2007 Naperville Family History Recognition - Naper-Days Naperville Heritage Society
2008 The Education Center Community Partner Award - Becky Anderson Wilkins
2008 Building a Passion for Reading Award- Naperville School Dist. 203 - Becky Anderson Wilkins
2009 Voice of the Heartland Award from the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association: recognizing "a person or company in the book industry for a lifetime contribution to regional books," to Becky Anderson Wilkins, Anderson's Bookshops, Naperville and Downers Grove.
2010 Retail Business of the Year - Naperville Chamber of Commerce
2010 Small Business of the Year - Naperville Chamber of Commerce
2011 Publisher's Weekly Bookstore of the Year
Anderson's Named PW Bookstore of the Year; John Eklund Rep
By Judith Rosen
In a clean sweep for the heartland, Anderson’s Books, which includes Anderson’s Bookshops in Naperville and Downer’s Grove, Ill., ABCFairs, and Two Doors East, and Milwaukee-based sales rep John Eklund, with Harvard, Yale, and MIT presses , were named this year’s PW Bookstore of the Year and Rep of the Year. (full article)