If you call or visit Lit. on Fire Used Books, Jessica Stephenson will be the first person you meet. Lucky you!
Established in the summer of 2015, Lit. on Fire Used Books is the brainchild of Jessica Stephenson, the unconventional proprietor with exceptional vision. A lost investment in another local shop turned into a blessing in disguise when she decided to use her wisdom, her experience, and her entire life savings to start selling books independently.
Once Jessica bought her first book with the intention of selling it, everything just fell into place. Books were coming her way at record speed. and bookcases were donated by an old friend who runs a nonprofit book sale in Normal, IL. She was soon approached by the owners of the Studios on Sheridan about an available space, as they heard a rumor that she was looking for a storefront in the area. It was a match made in heaven-- the space was small, but manageable, the location was low visibility, but as it turns out, the perfect spot. Of course she signed the lease.
One month later, Lit. on Fire Used Books celebrated its grand opening on July 3rd of 2015. Books flew off the half empty shelves, neighbors shared their joy of reading, book lovers and artists wrote quotes and drew designs on the bookcases, and magic glistened in the air. Jessica spent the next several months trying to fill the shelves completely, until one day the tables turned and she started running out of space for all of the books she had curated.
In January of 2016, Jessica received word that the tenant occupying the adjacent studio would be moving out at the end of April, so the next logical step in the journey was to expand. Jessica worked tirelessly again for months preparing for the expansion. She acquired shelving (and even "built" some), cozy couches, a coffee table with nesting ottomans, a projector, and projector screen, and a beautiful chess set, not to mention the hundreds upon hundreds of books that were added to the collection! The Nonfiction Reading Room was born out of a vision that your neighborhood indie should be more than just a store, but a destination!
All of that hard work paid off on June 10th of 2016 when she hosted an extravagant grand re-opening party and combined pre-party for Peoria's comic con, Artist and Comic Expo. The party featured music by the inimitable Suit & Tie Guy, comedy by Dave Yates, live art and special gallery showing by J.M. Hunter, and special presentation by Philo Barnhart, the illustrator responsible for The Little Mermaid, The Secret of NIMH, the special effects for the original Star Trek film, and countless other timeless projects. It was boss, and we can only hope to have such continued success in the future!
On September 1st, 2017, Lit. on Fire Used Books began a new chapter on this exciting path of growth and evolution by acquiring a new location, a REAL storefront with street visibility, at 712 W. Main St. right next to the Costume Trunk in the old Art Garage location. The soft opening at the new location took place on Friday, September 15th, and a grand opening celebration took place on Friday, October 6th! New and expanded hours are Tuesday-Saturday from noon-8 pm!
Since its inception, Jessica has hosted numerous community events that have shaped her vision for a true literary community, including an open mic and (sometimes) local author spotlight on the third Wednesday of every month, special bookish movie and television screening nights, and even publishing a handmade literary zine featuring local poets, authors, artists, and photographers.
Lit. on Fire Used Books is located at 712 W. Main St. in Peoria, IL, right next to the Costume Trunk in the old Art Garage location. There is street parking available, as well as a public parking lot on the same block of Main St. which includes a bike rack.
712 W. Main St. | Peoria, IL 61606, USA | (309) 634-5383