Exile in Bookville and Two Dollar Radio Collaborate on Custom Merch

Exile in Bookville in Chicago, Ill., has partnered with independent publisher Two Dollar Radio to create a line of merchandise featuring designs by Larry Law, illustrator and executive director of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association. The Exile Radio Collection debuted for Independent Bookstore Day with T-shirts and hoodies.

Gus Moreno (author of This Thing Between Us) and Javier Ramirez showing off the merch.

"We see it as a natural extension of our enduring friendship and mutual appreciation for literature," said Eric Obenauf, director of Two Dollar Radio, "from two businesses that are expanding the idea of how a traditional publisher or bookseller might operate."

"Music and books hold an agreeable symmetry," said Javier Ramirez and Kristin Enola Gilbert, co-owners of Exile in Bookville. "Hell, we even named our store after Liz Phair's album Exile in Guyville. When we opened our store, we took Hans Weyandt's words to heart: 'It's your store, do all the weird things that people you worked for before said wouldn't work. Just be f--king weird.' We found our weird lifemates in Two Dollar Radio and Larry Law."

The idea arose at GLIBA's spring forum in 2023, which took place at Two Dollar Radio's headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, where it also operates a bookstore. Inspiration came from streetwear and skate companies that create custom apparel in partnership with brands and personalities.

"GLIBA's mission is to help booksellers, forge partnerships, and promote the Great Lakes as a vital marketplace," said Law. "This collaboration achieves all that while creating something cool. I was excited to work on this project. For me, Exile and Two Dollar epitomize what it means to be indie in the Midwest. They have heart, they have hustle, they deeply care about the region they live in, and they share a punk spirit which I hold dear."

On the topic of additional merchandise, Ramirez said, "I'd really love to do sneakers.... We've also discussed hats, playing cards, and beanies."

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