Book shop or “bookie joint?” Frank Williams talks on the direct line to the Bryn Mawr Store, Jim Fortmiller communicates with warehouse, and Bob Beck takes an incoming call In 1962.
Bob Beck hurled a split finger change while throwing out the first pitch at Wrigley Field in the early 1980's.
In 1945, after spending time in the armed forces, Robert "Bob" Beck returned home to the North Side of Chicago and began to search for work. Bob soon found a job at the Chicagoland bookstore Faulkner’s Educational Books, where he was offered a stock boy position. While at Faulkner's, Bob met Anna "Nadine" Wood, who he fell in love with and married in 1948. Durring the relationship, Bob was awarded a managerial position at Faulkner's and developed a solid reputation in the college bookstore industry.
After ten years of work at Faulkner’s, Bob and Nadine Beck realized there was an opportunity to open a competitive store servicing Loyola University of Chicago and encouraged their boss to open an additional location. Mr. Faulkner didn't want anything to do with expansion so Bob and Nadine took a courageous step and opened their own operation, Beck’s Book Store, at 22 East Chicago Avenue.
Beck’s Book Store was a success. After six years of business, they established another location that served Northeastern Illinois University in 1961. Not too long after that a third off-campus store was opened in 1966 at 6501 N. Sheridan Road to serve the Loyola University community at the lake shore campus.
Beck’s Book Store became famous throughout the college bookstore community for its superior customer service. As the good word about Beck’s continued to spread, other local colleges began to notice. In 1977, Harry S. Truman College asked Mr. Beck to open another store. Mr. Beck agreed and shortly afterward the fourth Beck’s Book Store was up and running at 1120 W. Wilson Ave. Mr. Beck then opened a fifth location to serve the Harold Washington College students and staff in 1984.
The 1980’s brought great favor to Beck’s Book Store. The five Beck’s locations continued to grow and in 1988, Northeastern Illinois University asked Mr. Beck to take over the on-campus university bookstore operations. Mr. Beck agreed and within one year Loyola University of Chicago asked Mr. Beck the same question.
In the late 90’s, Beck’s went outside Chicago’s city limits for the first time and pioneered an off-campus bookstore at the College of Dupage. In 2002, Beck’s added another on-campus location at the John Marshall Law School in downtown Chicago. In May of 2005, Beck’s continued its Chicagoland expansion, venturing into Big Ten country with a store serving the Wildcats of Northwestern University. The junior member of the Beck’s family can be found at 716 Clark Street in downtown Evanston.
Beck’s Book Store was granted certification as a Female Business Enterprise (FBE) under the Business Enterprise Program for Minorities, Females, and Persons with Disabilities by the state of Illinois Department of Central Management Services on August 31, 2010.
Altogether, Beck’s has now grown to encompass four on-campus bookstores, three off-campus bookstores, two high school bookstores and three online e-commerce bookstores..