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The Sly Fox Bookstore

A brief history of The Sly Fox

The Sly Fox bookstore in Virden marks its 25th year in July 2023.  The store at 123 North Springfield Street previously housed the Smith Hat and Dress Shop from 1922 to 1991.  The owner's great aunt, Jennie Smith, opened a millinery store in 1922 in this building, later becoming a full range women's clothing store.  The store faces Illinois Route 4, which from 1926 to 1930 was also designated as U.S. Route 66.  At the beginning the store's inventory consisted of children's books, mysteries and books about Illinois and Abraham Lincoln.  More recently, the inventory has broadened to include popular fiction, American history, biographies, sports, romance, cookbooks, poetry, Route 66, gardening, ghost stories, and more.  The current owner, George Rishel, is 79 and runs the store entirely on his own.  He has served as treasurer of the Virden Sesquicentennial Group, which erected a large $175,000 monument in the city park commemorating the Battle of Virden in 1898; organized and served as a board member and treasurer of the North Mac Public School Foundation.  In previous careers, he has been a newspaper reporter, lawyer, public relations, and a gas station pump jockey.  He is Vietnam era veteran of the U.S. Army.

Store Photo

Home of The Sly Fox and its owner.

This unique building on Route 4 and the west side of the Virden Square boasts bricks covered in a white ceramic and pattern designs in dark green.