Back in July 2015, Jessica Stephenson opened the door to a dream—her own book store in The Sunbeam Building just off West Main Street. What started out as a one room store has doubled in size and has become a home here in Peoria for book lovers, writers, poets, artists and anyone with a Sharpie that enjoys writing on shelves and walls within the confines of a used book store. I was there in the beginning and now let’s take a look at how the creative fire continues to burn at this unique and fun shop!
In case you’ve never been here, it’s right inside of the Sunbeam Building on Sheridan, just down from West Main Street. You walk in the front door, down the hallway and if you follow the signs it’s right there all lit up...which kind of makes sense considering the name of the place! Hey, there’s a familiar face in the window, it’s the owner of lit. on fire, Jessica! Let’s go in and say hello and start this updated tour of the book shop!
Wow, right off the bat I can see there’s a lot more inventory inside of here! There’s Jessica and since she’s started this store, she not only sells published works, she publishes them as well! She’s started her own zine called, Get LIt. Zine and there she is holding the latest edition.
Get Lit. Zine is a print companion for the open mic nights here (more about that soon) and there’s artwork, poetry, short stories, photography and more inside. Jessica lays the zine out old school fashion by cutting, pasting and then copying the zines which are available at the store. There’s also Get Lit. Zine color postcards available and you can read more about the zine, when it’s published and how to contribute by clicking right here.
Since opening the store, Jessica has gotten some nice local press and she was recently featured on HOI ABC news!
As I mentioned earlier, the inventory has at least doubled in here, if not tripled! And the store has expanded into two rooms, there’s now this front room that’s overflowing with books and bookcases and this room leads to...
This new back non-fiction reading room! In addition to a huge supply of non-fiction books, there’s comfortable chairs and couches for lounging and checking out some of the many selections back here.
In addition to books, there’s also some really nice artwork and murals on the walls in lit. on fire, much of it was drawn and painted by Jessica’s friend and local artist Daz.
There's not only art on the walls, there’s also art pretty much everywhere in here. Jessica allows and encourages people to draw on the shelves and walls in here and this is just a small sampling of the art, writing, love notes and poetry that’s all over the store. I could spend a week in here just looking at all of it!
This store has not only grown into a top-notch book store, lit. on fire has also become a fun destination for all kinds of events featuring local artists, poets, musicians and writers. As you can see, there’s a movie screen in the back room for movie nights in here. Plus there’s a monthly open mic night here and that’s happening tonight! Local author, Carrie Lowrance is the featured speaker and the public is invited to listen or take part of the open mic festivities. Click here for more information on tonight’s open mic night! Other monthly events include a Literary Trivia Night and First Friday celebrations, there’s always something happening in here!
And of course there’s books in here! There’s books to greet you in carts before you even step in the store. Inside Jessica has a special Domestic Violence Lending Library that you can take books home and read for free and you can donate to this project as well.
This is just a small sampling of the diverse and unique hardback and paperback titles in the store. You won’t find a lot of these titles in chain stores and if you’re a book lover it’s like an unending treasure hunt in here!
MBIP was here and thanks to Jessica for a fun afternoon in lit. on fire and for all she’s done for the Peoria art and literature scene! Don't forget to check out the open mic party tonight!