Lit Books & Bar to open in downtown Champaign

By Raina Kutliroff, Staff Writer

The newest addition to the Champaign-Urbana community is much more than the average bookstore. The independently owned bookstore and wine bar is set to open this fall right in the center of Downtown Champaign.

Jenny Shima, owner of Lit Books & Bar, is ecstatic about her new project. Shima said the shop will sell new books, wine, beer, coffee and more. Lit Books & Bar is partnering with another C-U business, Hopscotch Bakery, to open their second bakery location, where they will offer goodies like pastries, cheese boards, fondue and cheesecake just to name a few. Shima said she is especially excited about the coffee, which will be sourced from local female-owned businesses.

Shima explained that after moving around the Midwest quite a lot, she decided to make C-U her home. Feeling the itch to do something with her newfound passion for the C-U community, she set about her plan to create Lit Books & Bar.

During the pandemic, Shima said she thought a lot about the connections she has with those around her. After the shelter-in-place was lifted and the world began to reconnect physically with each other, she said she felt it was necessary to have a place to re-engage, or “a place that would act as a new way to strengthen community,” as Shima described.

Shima said she is excited to plant her own roots in C-U through her business and work with other local independent business owners.

In addition to providing books, refreshments and classy snacks, Lit Books & Bar also plans to host unique events that showcase the many talents of those in the community. Be on the lookout for art galleries, poetry slams, book clubs, book reading and signings.

Some inquiring fans have even suggested hosted weddings at the chic space. Shima looks forward to hosting a plethora of events, but she said her dream event is for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to visit the bookstore.

Shima is working closely with members of the local community to organize events that her future customers would love to see. She would love to work closely with the University and its students to host more events to benefit Illini, as well.

Shima’s passion for the uniqueness of the C-U community shines through the hard work she has put into launching Lit Books & Bar. Her goal is for the bookstore to act as a place for the people of C-U to be themselves.

“This is an inclusive space,” she said. “This is an open and welcome environment. I am really trying to bring in all the perspectives.”

Her hope is for the bookstore to act as a place of celebration for the diverse customers she hopes to engage with.

Although there is no official opening date, her hope is for Lit Books & Bar to be open to the public sometime this fall. Like the website states, “That’s gonna be lit.”


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