Profile: Nebraska Governatorial Candidate Charles Herbster

Written May of 2021

An insight into Herbster’s background, connections, and political goals

Supporters wait for Herbster’s announcement at the Heartland Country Barn. Photo by Kenneth Ferreira, The Journal Star

Former Trump adviser and agricultural business mogul Charles Herbster formally launched his campaign for Governor of Nebraska on Monday at a barn outside of Fremont, hoping to make Nebraska, “an even greater state than it is,” but his political and financial connections allude to a focus elsewhere.

Still more than a year away from the election, which is in November of 2022, Herbster’s campaign is focused on growing trade markets for farmers, implementing a consumption tax system, securing the country’s borders, and carrying on former President Trump’s America First policies.

“We are going to fight for the best Nebraska we’ve ever had tax-wise, education-wise, immigration and all the things that are important to us,” he said in his campaign kickoff.

This isn’t the first time Herbster has run for political office. For the 2014 Nebraska Gubernatorial election, he was in the midst of becoming the Republican candidate. In August of 2013, however, Herbster denounced his campaign as his wife Judy Herbster recuperated from heart surgery. She died in May of 2017, but Herbster never ruled himself out of politics.

The Falls City, Nebraska native is the owner of Herbster Angus Farms, an angus breeder farm that profits from selling their cattle’s sperm. The farm started out as a homestead in 1847 by Herbster’s great-great-grandfather. When Herbster was 11, his grandmother bought him 65 registered Angus cows. He then used them as the foundation to develop Herbster Angus Farms into the successful angus breeder farm that it is today.

Herbster is also the CEO of the Conklin Company, a manufacturing business based in Kansas City, Missouri that sells agricultural products, roofing systems, vehicle products, as well as health and hoe products. His other businesses include North American Breeders Inc. in Virginia, Agri-Solutions Inc. in Iowa, and Judy’s Dream Inc. in Omaha, NE.  Former Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman is part of the board at Conklin, but current Governor Pete Ricketts isn’t fond of Herbster taking business out of Nebraska.

“I have worked on growing the state by getting companies to move here,” Ricketts said in an interview with KMTV News Now Omaha. “I think Charles Herbster is going to have a hard time convincing the people of Nebraska he should be governor when he moved the main company headquarters for his organization, and he put that in Missouri.”

Herbster’s political connections stem far from Nebraska and closer to Washington D.C. In 2016 he was appointed by former President Trump to be National Chairman of the Agricultural and Rural Advisory Committee. In this role, Herbster focused on mobilizing rural voters and developing agricultural policy.

Herbster has been friends with Trump since 2005 when they met at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s resort in Florida. The farmer was at the rally in Washington D.C on January 6th, but he reportedly left before the insurrection. During his campaign kick-off on Monday, he reassured the crowd that he would not alienate himself from the former president.

 “Everybody said: ‘You’re going to run for governor? You have to take the Trump (license) plates off,’” Herbster said. “And this is how loyal I am to the 45th president of the United States, I said: ‘If it’s the difference between being disloyal to President Trump or becoming governor of Nebraska, I will not be disloyal to the 45th president.”

Data from The Center for Responsive Politics shows that throughout 2020, Herbster donated $355,000 to the National Republican Party and $269,100 to Donald Trump and his campaign. The same data also showed that $600,000 of Herbster’s money has gone to various Republican parties in 42 of the 50 states. The Republican Party of Colorado received the biggest total donation of $30,000 on October 7th, while the Republican Party of Nebraska only got $20,000 on August 27th.

Little Sis, a database that details the connections between powerful people and organizations, also listed him as a member of Trump’s Transition Team Finance Committee, and since September of 2020, the Council for National Policy.

The watchdog group, Documented, describes the Council for National Policy as an “influential network of conservative think tanks, right-wing religious extremists, Republican operatives, elected officials and wealthy GOP donors.”

The organization was created during Ronald Reagan’s first year in office in 1981 and has been meeting ever since behind closed doors, for four decades, to advance their social and political agendas. Its current members include big names like MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and Executive Director of Turning Point USA, Charlie Kirk. Among their leaders are NewsMax Founder Chris Ruddy and president of the Media Research Center, L Brent Bozell III.

Videos leaked to the Washington Post show meetings from February and August of 2020, where conservative politicians and influencers discuss election strategy, conspiracy theories, and voter suppression.

“I think we’re going to do real well with younger voters. The democrats have done a really foolish thing by shutting down all these campuses,” Kirk said. “It’s going to remove ballot harvesting opportunities and all the voting fraud that they usually do on college campuses so they’re actually removing half a million votes off the table so please keep the campuses closed, like it’s a great thing.”

In these meetings, which were months before the presidential election, CNP members were already predicting that the election would be stolen by the Democrats. As they condemned ballot harvesting from the left, they were embracing it for the right.

 “And so our organization is going to be harvesting ballots in churches,” Ralph Reed, chairman of the nonprofit Faith & Freedom Coalition said to the crowd. “We’re going to be specifically going in not only to White evangelical churches, but into Hispanic and Asian churches, and collecting those ballots.”

Herbster portrayed this same attitude in his campaign announcement on Monday.

“We know the system hates us. We know how it is in politics. We understand all of that,”  Herbster said. “But we believe in the people in Nebraska more than all of that. It’s not about us, it’s about a purpose and a mission.”

Jane Kleeb, the Chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party, is worried about the direction of the GOP in Nebraska as candidates like Herbster use fear mongering to reach their political goals.

 “They (GOP) have no bottom in the type of people they feel emboldened to run because their leader is Trump,” Kleeb said. “People like Herbster, who literally lie to their voters in order to stir up controversy, divide Americans, so they can win with a smaller, and smaller number of constituents.”

So far, Herbster’s only competition in this race is Jim Pillen, a University of Nebraska Regent and owner of Pillen Family Farms in Columbus, NE. Although current Governor Pete Ricketts is yet to formally endorse a candidate, his trusted advisor, Jessica Flanagain, is serving as a guide for the Pillen Campaign. Herbster’s running mate, Theresa Thibodeau, also has connections to Ricketts, however, as in 2017 she was appointed by him to represent Omaha’s District 6 in the Legislature. 

Despite the criticisms against him, Herbster continues to emphasize his roots and life as a farmer.

“I combine, I pull calves and I farm,” he said in an interview with the Fremont Tribune. “It’s my love. If you were to ask me what I would give up of all the various things that I do, the one thing I wouldn’t give up is my rural life in Falls City, Nebraska.”

Review: Gus Dapperton’s Orca is Forgettable Yet Intensely Relatable

Written October of 2020

Colorful and quirky bedroom pop artist Gus Dapperton shows a new side of him in his sophomore album, Orca. Releasing a more melancholy and intimate sound may be appreciated by his biggest fans and deep thinkers, but the lack of entertainment value and consistency in identity fails to capitalize on an opportunity for greater success.

Dapperton’s modest rise to fame has come off the back of the growing popularity of bedroom pop among Gen Z. In a genre that embraces a more genuine, homemade sound that is relatable to today’s youth, the 23-year-old Brooklyn native has never failed to be himself.

Early in his career in 2017, he caught the ears of early adapters in this new genre with songs like, “I’m Just Snacking,” and “Prune, You Talk Funny.” These songs were sunny, upbeat, and an original mix of rock, pop, and synthesizing sounds. His music videos of the time complemented his brand well as they featured Dapperton in a bowl cut and nonconforming, colorful clothing as he shamelessly danced through the streets. 

Dapperton sporting a colorful bowl haircut in February of 2019. Photo by Jess Ferran

Dapperton has been mostly under the radar among the mainstream, having mostly a cult following. His 2019 feature in TikTok’s viral hit, “Supalonely,” by BENEE, however, exposed his sound to anyone willing to listen. His first album, Where Polly People Go to Read, delivers the flair that set him apart, but Dapperton could have caught the momentum of this exponentially growing, colorful, quirky wave with his latest album Orca. Unfortunately, however, his failure to stick to his identity left new listeners confused with a tamer and more depressed vibe.

Self-aware, Dapperton addresses his inner confusion with arguably one of the few memorable songs on the album, “First Aid,” which was released as a single in the spring. In the first verse, the artist solemnly sings, “Sorry ’bout my head, it’s not here / I’m still learning how to fear / I’m too spirited for one of a kind / About my head, it’s all near / But I’m learning how to steer / It’s a miracle that I still oblige.” Dapperton understands this is not his sound, nor his identity, and apologizes for it.

This confused theme is consistent throughout the album, where each song is mostly forgettable when it comes to entertainment value. He concludes the album with, “Swan Song,” where Dapperton once again addresses his inner battles in regard to his audience, “And I don’t need to know the way to your heart / And I don’t even know a good place to start / I did that to myself / I’m not asking for help.”

Dapperton shaves his signature bowl haircut. Photo by Jess Farran

The fact that Dapperton can be honest with himself and address these issues head on, might be appreciated by his biggest fans who care to see all sides of his personality. Despite the lack of consistency in sound, he still holds his imperative of being himself, which goes extremely well with the relatability of his genre. For listeners who are looking for more meaning than entertainment, this album can be a great artistic perspective to depression, where an individual understands they are not being themselves and encounter inner demons that they may not be able to clearly explain right away.

Throughout the album, it is as if the artist is screaming for help, or just throws dark thoughts into an inconclusively dark void, hoping for someone to listen. Through this perspective, he concludes the album well by exclaiming that he does not care and will not release music that is solely geared for an audience, but is true to what he feels inside.

It is a shame, however, that these feelings came right as Dapperton’s career was about to take off… but isn’t that just so relatable? So, Gen Z? So, falling under the pressure? It is 2020 in an album. I give it 3 stars.   

Unconventional Art from an Unconventional Soul

How the OWL Lab’s Jillian Musielak found her unique identity as an artist

Written in October 2020

One by one, OWL Lab manager and Technology Coordinator Jillian Musielak fills in squares on a spreadsheet. After filling in each square, she diligently takes screenshots, ultimately putting them into Adobe Premiere Pro to make an animation. Although this is an unusual way to use the program, she has been making videos in this unconventional manner all throughout her life.  

Born in Archer Heights to Polish and Lithuanian immigrants, Musielak has felt different ever since she moved to the suburbs of Oak Lawn when she was nine.

As a child, she adored movies. Some of her favorites were, “Three Amigos,” and, “La Bamba,” but she always had a unique attraction to the productions that were just as unique as her. 

“I started to watch shows, like on WTTW, where they had some shows that were like experimental animation and experimental video,” she said. “I kind of sought out things that were different, I think because I felt different once we moved to the suburbs.”

Her interest in videos grew throughout her primary education, where she would choose to make video book reports instead of written presentations. Since she did not know much about video editing at the time, Musielak had to get creative to produce her work. 

“I knew that if I had a tv console that had a VCR built into it, I could connect another VCR to that TV console and edit two videos at once,” she explained. “Looking back at it now, how did I figure that out? It was like this innate ability that I had.”

Out of High School, however, Musielak was not sure about what she wanted to do as a career. She dropped out of school various times before her feelings of estrangement brought her to New York, just wanting to be somewhere else.

In the Big Apple, Musielak met people in creative fields who encouraged her to become an artist. Since she was from Chicago, they pointed her towards The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

After some introductory classes at Moraine Valley Community College, Musielak was accepted into SAIC with a full scholarship.

“It was so validating, almost like I guess this is what I should be doing,” she said. “For the first time I was kind of being rewarded for being me in this way.”

At SAIC, Musielak finished both her undergraduate and MFA in film and video. Although she had gotten a job working at SAIC’s Video Data Bank, Musielak’s imposter syndrome continued to haunt her and push her to create videos like no one else.

“I wanted to use materials that I could easily get my hands on,” she said. “I was thoroughly intimidated by the media cage, by having to go there and ask questions where people may think of me as I’m stupid, so I never checked anything out.” 

Musielak’s time at SAIC also gave her a new perspective regarding art as a career.  She struggled with the idea that while making art, the end products of her work are vague. Making art just to make art without seeing how it could clearly impact someone else was unfulfilling for Musielak, who then redirected her focus towards the commercial side of video. 

This realization resulted in Musielak pursuing a job at Loyola University Chicago’s OWL Lab. Here, she can use her unique perspectives in video and life to directly influence students.  Dealing with unconformity her entire life, she aims to build an environment where students are not discouraged from asking questions and instead are empowered to think outside the box while learning how to use production materials. 

“I felt like I didn’t have as much experience with a lot of equipment, especially going back to school after three years,” said Jessica Douglas, a graduate student and frequent user of the lab. “She explains equipment well but also checks in on you to see how your day is going.”  “It’s not about having the innate ability to use a camera,” Musielak said. “It’s about teaching yourself to feel comfortable having these things as an extension of yourself.” 

Finding a New Sound

Alternative artist looks to find his unique style

Get a taste of Cordero’s personality as a musician. Shot and produced by Gabriel Paredes Reyes

Dabbling with the sea of buttons on his keyboard and tap dancing on the pedals for his electric guitar, alternative artist and Loyola University Chicago sophomore Ryan Cordero mixes and matches the tunes of his instruments to create a new sound.

Cordero and his music partner Charlie Granat have used their time throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to expand their musical abilities and create something new.

“As a new decade ushers in, as we become a new society due to COVID, I think that people are looking for that new sound that defines this generation,” Cordero said.

Their main sources of inspiration are the up-and-coming sounds of hyper-pop, the grunge of Nirvana and Blink-182 from the 90’s, as well as the psychedelic beats of Tame Impala and The Beatles. Cordero and Granat hope to mix these styles together to get a footing in this new musical era.

“If you look at the way that ‘genres’ have been created, it’s been about finding what you like from each genre of music and making something new out of it.”

Cordero uses his keyboard’s 600 + sounds to experiment and find his unique style. Shot by Gabriel Paredes Reyes

It was bound to be…

Although music has always been in the background, Cordero didn’t start taking music seriously until High School, when he saw how a family friend’s nephew expressed himself with just an acoustic guitar. This connection inspired him to experiment with instruments his father owned and train his ear by replicating his favorite records.

His father Hector Cordero’s wide assortment of instruments gave his son the opportunity to master the keyboard and the guitar.

“It was bound to be,” Cordero said.

Originally from New Jersey, Cordero’s freshman year dorm only allowed space for his acoustic guitar, which his father bought him as a graduation present. With his instrument, he soon connected with other students who were musically inclined.

“Talking to people, you’d be surprised,” Cordero said. “Whether it be at bars, house parties or on the train, you bring up some musical act and you find out they’re actually a music major.”

Cordero’s acoustic guitar was a graduation present from his father. Shot by Gabriel Paredes Reyes

Now that he has his own apartment as a Sophomore, Cordero has all the time and space he needs for his keyboard, as well as acoustic, electric, and bass guitars to work on his music. 

Music and social media

Throughout the pandemic, however, finding consistent people to play with has been tough, making social media apps like TikTok pivotal for networking and sharing music.

“It seems that a very popular thing for new music now is to create that, five or ten second, vignette of something that’s catchy or ear worm,” Cordero said. “And then people keep reusing and reusing the song… to then use it for dances on Tik Tok.”

In contrast, due to the pandemic Cordero has found it difficult to find more underground groups in Chicago since they don’t have as many opportunities for an open mic.

The viral nature of music through social media doesn’t bother Cordero though, as genuine quality is still key for relevancy in the long-term. 

“With hyper, comes forgetability. How many songs from last year that blew up on TikTok can you mention right now?” Cordero asked. “Unless it’s a really good song, or you really vibe with the styles of the artist, then it’s just going to be forgotten with the billions of songs that are being circulated on TikTok.”

Cordero showing off his electric guitar. Shot by Gabriel Paredes Reyes

Now that the U.S. is seeing the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, Cordero’s goal by the end of the summer is to play his music at a house party. As social gatherings become more acceptable, he’s optimistic to see people not just listen to music at home, but also go back to the energy of a live performance.

“It kind of gets lame when you hear a song at a party and you don’t see the person performing the song,” Cordero said. “When you hear the song, you know what to expect but when you hear it live, there is just a bit of a difference.”

Yang Leads Race to Become New York City’s First Asian Mayor

The former Presidential candidate is on pace to make history as Asian hate crimes spike across the country

In his first rally as mayoral candidate, Andrew Yang promotes his idea for universal basic income. Photo by Stephen Yang

Former Presidential candidate and nonprofit entrepreneur Andrew Yang is once again running for political office, spearheading the race as a Democrat for Mayor of New York City and paving the way to be the city’s first Asian to hold the position this summer.

Yang started his political career in 2017 when he launched his candidacy for the 2020 Presidential election. At the time Yang was deemed, “Silicon Valley’s presidential candidate,” as he was able to attract Silicon Valley Democrats with his approach to data, nerdy personality, and knowledge of the dilemmas in the tech industry. His campaign ended in February of 2020, after disappointing results in the New Hampshire primary but surpassing the public’s expectations for a political rookie.

Less than a year later, in January of 2021, Yang announced his candidacy for mayor of the Big Apple, the city he’s called home for 25 years since he moved to Morningside Heights from Schenectady, New York to attend Columbia Law School. After graduating in 1999, he stayed in the city and settled down in Hell’s Kitchen with his wife Evelyn and became an entrepreneur. He’s the CEO and founder for Venture for America, a nonprofit organization that educates recent college graduates who want to be business owners. He’s received accolades like the Champion of Change in 2012 and named a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship in 2015 by the Obama administration. 

Throughout his presidential campaign, Yang ran as an outsider, winning the hearts of his supporters with his headline idea of a, “Freedom Dividend.”  This meant a universal basic income of $1,000 every 12 months to every American over the age of 18. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Yang has custom fit his idea for a more human centered economy to New York City, where he plans to build a “People’s Bank of NYC,” to tackle poverty by reinvesting in lower-income communities through similar monthly checks.

Two months after announcing his candidacy for Mayor, Yang leads the latest polls. Recent data released on Wednesday by Pulse of the Primary, an organization that takes surveys to provide voter insight in New York City, showed that 85% of likely voters in March say they have heard of Yang, and 16% expressed they would vote for him in June. Right behind him is Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, who is known by 64% of voters with 10% of them planning to vote for him on election day.

New York City was the biggest donor to Yang’s presidential campaign out of all major cities, contributing a grand total of $2,610,799 according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Now as he runs to lead the city, the New York City Campaign Finance Board states he’s ahead of everyone else on the field with more than 14,000 donations. More than 80% of them are $1 to $175 as he’s raised a total of $2,139,231 as of March 15th.

In an election that is historic already, being the fourth in roughly half a century to not include an incumbent Mayor, Andrew Yang’s positive results so far as the son of Taiwanese immigrants allude to the idea of Yang being New York’s first ever Asian Mayor.  Alice Wong of the Chinese American Planning Council, shares that there is excitement regarding an Asian American being a representative in politics.

“One of the metrics that we look for is just having actual representation,” Wong said. “Someone who looks like us and comes from our community.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian American community in New York has been especially affected by the virus’ origins in China. The negative connotation of this detail has resulted in an uptick of anti-Asian hate crimes and a mass shut down of their small businesses.

A study from California State University, San Bernardino shows that out of all major cities in the United States, New York has seen the biggest rise in hate crimes towards Asians, with 28 incidents in 2020 compared to a mere three in 2019.

The same fear that triggers these crimes has also hurt Asian American small businesses. As seen on the NYC Poverty Measure Report from 2017, Asians in New York are the poorest amongst all other demographics with a 23.8% poverty rate compared to 22.4% for Hispanics and 20.4% for Black New Yorkers. COVID-19 mitigations have now made Chinatowns in all boroughs especially vulnerable to shutdowns as tourism and customer traffic has depleted an already impoverished community.  

“The poverty levels are high in the Asian American community,” Wong explained. “A lot of them haven’t adopted technologies that a lot of other small businesses were able to adopt.”

These issues have put Yang in the spotlight as the frontrunner Asian candidate for the city’s highest office. At a press conference in Times Square after the anti-Asian mass shootings in Atlanta, Yang promoted the full funding for NYPD’s Asian Task Force, which was formed by Mayor Bill de Blasio at the end of 2020.

On his campaign website, Yang emphasizes that, “the NYPD must serve as true partners to the New York City Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) to prevent hate crimes.” This idea wasn’t received well by some in communities of color.

“A really important aspect of this is recognizing that the response to the hate and the violence shouldn’t be more police on the street,” said Wong.

The latest Emerson College poll estimates that Yang is leading with 50% of White voters and 60% of Asian voters. Despite his lead for right now, he still has strong competition from Eric Adams, who is a former police officer and strong advocate for public safety, including resources to fight Anti-Asian Hate in his campaign. Yang cannot blindly depend on the Asian community for their vote due to its large size and diversity.

“The Asian Community is built of many different ethnic communities and many people that come from many political ideologies,” said Wong. “So, I would not say that there is a specific candidate that the Asian American community supports.”

Creating Tasty Art

An insight into the designer behind the menu boards on campus

Lu’s Deli menu board by Lynzie Horejs

Ever since she was a kid, graphic designer Lynzie Horejs has always felt like an artist.

Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, Horejs’ roots in design stem from a computer coding class she took in high school, thinking it was the only way to get into the artform.

Anyway, Horejs claims she would’ve always gone into fine art. Graphic design, however, has become a more practical avenue for her to be creative and bring art into the world.

“I don’t do free creative stuff, I like designing things that are more functional,” Horejs said.

Freshman year of college at Loyola University Chicago, Horejs’ skills in computer coding and a good grasp on letter forms from her visual communications made her stand out from the rest when she applied for a graphic design role in Aramark Foods, the company that manages the dining halls for the university.

“I found the application through their Instagram story,” Horejs said. “I got pretty lucky since I was a freshman. I’m not sure why they chose me.”

Damen Deli sneeze guard cover inspired from “the cross of a chalkboard and homestyle restaurant.”

This position has given her the opportunity to design the menu boards students see around campus and jumpstart her career as a graphic designer.

Horejs describes her work as “a good combination of words and graphics.” After finding the appropriate inspiration for her pieces, she pulls images from stock websites like Shutterstock and crafts a design with complementing fonts and colors.

Working for Aramark Foods is “really fast,” said Horejs.

There really isn’t much planning ahead on her projects as she usually has no more than a week to produce a quick flyer or social media post for the dining halls.

More recently, she’s worked on decorating the sneeze guards that have been installed to mitigate infection from COVID-19. Horejs explains that when given assignments like these, she also must keep in mind how the design functions with the rest of the kitchen.

We’re trying to hide to backs of some panini presses right now.

Lynzie Horejs

Unfortunately, the pandemic resulted in Horejs being furloughed with Aramark foods. This led to her getting another gig, this time with KCommunications, a small communications firm in Chicago that offered her a virtual internship.

She’s continued to design for the food industry, producing more menu boards and social media content mainly for KCommunication’s biggest client, Mitsuwa Martketplace, just south of Arlington Heights.

Menu boards for Mitsuwa Marketplace by Lynzie Horejs

To look for graphics, this job has given Horejs experience with Canva, which she describes as “graphic design software for people who aren’t graphic designers.”

In the future, however, Horejs hopes to no longer rely on websites and software to supply her with graphics, as she’s now working on making her own illustrations.

Horejs practiced her illustration skills making this piece for her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day.

Unexpected Venture Into Heirloom Books

How an impromptu interview led me to a hidden gem in Edgewater

Early this Sunday morning, I was pleasantly surprised by a DM from my co-worker, Boe Chmil, who was asking for help on a documentary shoot at a nearby bookstore in Edgewater, Chicago.

I was already planning on working on my own projects with Small Town Chicago, but the mundanity of this pandemic just made me excited for another excuse to leave my apartment.

My friend and I negotiated a time and once I was done with my own, I headed to Heirloom Books on 6239 N Clark St.

Next to Helix Cafe, the bookstore is a charming nook of character with a beautiful story of love and community.

Throughout our interview with the Heirloom’s primary caretaker, Erik Graff, he’d pause to welcome customers by asking if they, “knew the drill.”

“What was the drill,” I asked.

This led to a personal tour of the store from Graff, where he showed me its unique layout, special color-coding system, and their wide variety of unique finds.  

It may be small, but Heirloom is pure of wonders, with a labyrinth of second-hand books on a wide variety of backgrounds and topics that stretch every corner of the human psyche. Their bookshelves hold history with texts that are over a hundred years old like The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex by Charles Darwin from 1871. It’s even been a hub for artists, minorities, and many others to speak and discuss new ideas.

Now I’ll admit, I’m far from a bookworm, which is what made this experience so special. Most of my book buying experiences have been at places like Barnes and Noble, who have an adequate experience, but lack character with a selection of mass produced, predictable reads that all claim to be a “New York Times Best Seller.”

I was refreshed by a truly unique experience from people who cared about serving their community through literature.  

Graff explained that the location opened four years ago, in April of 2017, by Northwestern alum Chelsea Carr.

For three years, Carr modestly ran the store with the help from Graff as a volunteer. As a longtime germaphobe, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Carr decided to shut down the location. Heirloom’s reopening in August of 2020 was sadly prompted by Carr’s death at 29-years-old after a long-term illness.

Since then, Erik Graff happily volunteers his time to run the store and take care of its customers. What’s so special about Heirloom is the community of people who have wholeheartedly contributed to its survival. Family members, small businesses and others in the Rogers Park and Edgewater area have wholeheartedly picked up responsibilities in the business. Their GoFUndMe page has now raised nearly $18,000.

With coverage from local news outlets, the bookstore’s humble story is now attracting more people than ever. People from all over Chicago have ventured to visit the quaint little shop. In the future, Heirlooms hopes to become a not-for-profit organization and donate their revenue to other businesses in the area. 

You can visit Heirloom Books on 6239 N Clark St. every day from 12 to 7 p.m.