Classic Books offers what chain stores offer at a lower price

DeKALB – For students who want to buy all kinds of second-hand books with character, and at lower prices than chain stores like Barnes & Noble, Classic Books, 115 N. First St., is a viable option.

Owned and operated by DeKalb resident Charles Sigwart, the store is awash in literature, with all available wall space taken up by unfilled slotted shelves. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the store is only open by appointment, which can be taken between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, according to Classic Books Facebook page.

Since the store sells second-hand items, the latest popular books might not be on the shelves, Sigwart said. However, the store offers a wide range of genres including politics, history, self-help, media, photography, foreign languages, religion, biographies and several types of science like computer science, psychology. , mathematics, chemistry, astrophysics and biology.

The store even has more obscure areas like ham radio, books on UFO sightings, and “all kinds of weird stuff,” Sigwart said.

All of these genres only scratch the surface of the content offered by Classic Books; surprisingly and most of these books have a price range of $ 1 to $ 4.

“Name a topic, we’ve got it,” Sigwart said.

Most of the books in the store are categorized with the exception of classical literature and novels, which are listed alphabetically by author. Sigwart said he can repair books as well, and has not only repaired client books, but has also been successful in making older books reusable for new readers.

Prior to opening Classic Books, Sigwart was Associate Professor at NIU teaching computer science from 1988 to 1995. His wife and company co-owner, Gretchen Sigwart, also taught engineering and engineering at NIU. computer science and, with their marine biologist. daughter Julia, the “overeducated family” developed a love for books and knowledge, said Charles Sigwart.

When Charles retired in 1995, he began selling part of his massive book collection, at his wife’s request, at garage sales, Charles said. However, when the town of DeKalb passed an ordinance requiring all DeKalb residences to have garage sales only twice a year, Charles leased the current location for Classic Books in 2005.

Currently, the store accepts donations of books, where they get the majority of their material. Donations are all free and Classic Books only buys books if requested, Charles said.

Books that Classic Books cannot or have too many of them will still be accepted and then donated to local establishments in DeKalb who also take used books, including Safe Passage.

Safe passage is a charity in DeKalb that helps survivors of sexual and domestic abuse and Hope Haven is a DeKalb homeless shelter, according to their respective websites.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced traffic, the store has always been less of a means of making a living and more of a way for Charles to donate good literature to the community, Charles said.

“I’m retired and I can afford to do it,” Charles said. “Rent is only a few hundred dollars a month and most of the money we make goes to rent, the phone, and the Internet.”

When it comes to the student body of NIU, Classic Books can attract students of various studies, thanks to the store’s wide assortment of materials in almost any area of ​​knowledge. Since textbooks are often very expensive, it would also be nice for students to find books in their field without spending a lot of money, Charles said.

“If someone is passionate about a topic, we can most definitely provide more than one book,” Charles said.

About Marcia G. Hussain

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