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Amazon to open new pickup location at Illini Union Bookstore

UPDATE: In our initial post, the title misread as Illini Union, whereas the location is the Illini Union Bookstore.

From the press release:

Amazon to Open New Pickup Location at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Amazon Prime members at Illinois will get Free Same-Day Pickup on over three million items when shipped to the Amazon@Illinois location

Amazon@Illinois will be the first Amazon pickup location in Illinois

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jul. 11, 2016-- (NASDAQ: AMZN)–Amazon today announced an agreement with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to open Amazon@Illinois, a staffed pickup location in the Illini Union Bookstore on the UIUC campus. The first Amazon pickup location in the state of Illinois, Amazon@Illinois offers the campus community a convenient location to pick up and return Amazon orders, including virtually everything one needs for university life, from course materials and everyday essentials to tech devices.

Opening in Fall 2016, this approximately 2,200-square-foot space will be conveniently situated for Illinois students, staff and faculty. Additionally, Amazon Prime members will receive Free Same-Day Pickup for orders placed by noon and Free One-Day Pickup for orders placed by 10PM. Students can sign up for an Amazon Prime Student membership and get a six-month free trial followed by 50% off the regular price of Prime. To learn more about Amazon Prime Student, visit

“We are excited to partner with Amazon and add this level of service for students, faculty, and staff on campus,” said Renée Romano, vice chancellor for Student Affairs at Illinois. “The Illini Union Bookstore location is perfect to offer convenience and security in the heart of campus.”

“Amazon@Illinois will offer students a pickup location centrally located on campus to easily get their merchandise ordered through Amazon,” said Ripley MacDonald, Director of Amazon Student Programs. “We are thrilled to offer the Urbana-Champaign community more opportunities to save on their overall costs along with great customer service, better selection and convenience.”

Since 2015, Amazon has opened staffed pickup locations at the following universities: Purdue UniversityUniversity of Massachusetts AmherstUniversity of California, BerkeleyUniversity of Pennsylvania; The University of Texas at Austin; and University of California, Davis; as well as in the college communities ofUniversity of California, Santa BarbaraUniversity of Cincinnati; and University of AkronAmazon will also open more locations in 2016, including: The Georgia Institute of Technology and California State University, Long Beach, and in the college communities of University of Connecticut and Texas Tech University.

About Amazon Prime Student

Amazon Prime members at Illinois will get Free Same-Day Pickup on over three million items when shipped to the Amazon@Illinois location. Amazon Prime Student also gives college students unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping on more than 30 million items, and special offers and promotions created just for students as part of the six-month trial. After that it’s just $49 a year—half the price of a regular Amazon Prime membership—and includes unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime Video, over a million songs with Prime Music, free unlimited photo storage with Prime Photos, and access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. To learn more, visit

About Illini Union Bookstore

The Illini Union Bookstore is the official bookstore of the University of Illinois, serving the 42,000 students and more than 10,000 faculty and staff. Located at the corner of Wright and Daniels Street in Champaign, it offers officially licensed souvenirs and apparel, a wide selection of general books, and the largest selection of textbooks. All purchases at the Illini Union Bookstore support the Illini Union student events and activities.

About Amazon

Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit

Source:, Inc., Inc.
Media Hotline, 206-266-7180

H/t Gordy Hulton


Sipyard named on Food & Wine's "This Summer’s Best New Beer Gardens" list

Always great to see local spots recognized on a wider scale — this one comes from Food & Wine which names Urbana's Sipyard one of "This Summer’s Best New Beer Gardens". Coincidentally enough, we just named Sipyard one of C-U's BEST as well in our Food & Drink BEST 2016.

Check out their blurb:

This Kickstarter-funded beer garden was built from old shipping containers and sharing space with an outdoor graffiti gallery. The taps focus on Illinois beers, including those from Triptych Brewery, which was similarly funded through a Kickstarter campaign. 204 W Main St.


Jean Thompson featured in The New York Times

Renown author and Urbana resident Jean Thompson's latest book, She Poured Out Her Heart, has been reviewed by The New York Times, arguably the most prestigious journalistic entity in the world, proving once again the national relevance of Champaign-Urbana's residents.

The novel's story features the a friendship that begins in college, and spirals into story of the guilt and risk of adultery as relationships change.


From the review


I sometimes feel — and please forgive the gross oversimplification — that when it comes to engaging a reader, there are just two types of novels. First, there are the mysteriously deft ones that convince you from Page 1, exerting some magical force that arrests all critical powers. And then there are those that earn your attention more gradually, beating you into submission through the sheer energy, quantity and scope of their detail. However hard you try to resist, they won’t let go. “O.K.,” you shout — hands over ears — “I believe you, I really do, and I care!” It should not be read as criticism to say that Jean Thompson’s new novel, “She Poured Out Her Heart,” falls firmly into the second category.

You'll be able to catch Jean Thompson this September during The Pygmalion Festival's literature component, Lit Fest.

Photo by Justine Bursoni


Nick Offerman coming to Virginia Theatre at some point in 2016-17

With the 2016-17 season announcement by the Virginia Theatre coming tomorrow at some point in time, they've given a small teaser — which proves to be pretty awesome. Nick Offerman (Parks & Recreation, U of I graduate) will be here at some point in the season. Check out the post here and the text below:

2016-2017 Season Announce Preview

What a Season 2015-2016 turned out to be! With comedians Bill Maher and Paula Poundstone, concerts from the likes of REO Speedwagon, Celtic Woman, and Melissa Etheridge, live theatre by The Million Dollar Quartet, evenings with Jack Hanna and the women of That’s What She Said, along with dozens of classic films, dance recitals, Ebertfest, seven different youth theatrical productions (both touring & local) — it was a year to remember! We can’t wait to announce what 2016-2017 will bring.. but must! Until July 8th at least..


On July 8, the Champaign Park District will announce the Virginia’s new Season, to include performances by the legendary Ricky Skaggs, comedian Nick Offerman, Under the Streetlamp (featuring cast members of Broadway sensation Jersey Boys), NPR’s The Moth Radio Hour, and more. Sign up for the Virginia Theatre’s email newsletter and follow the Facebook event page to be among the first to receive the full listing!

Stay tuned for the full announce tomorrow, and never forget when he posted this yule log video.


Veriflow, founded in C-U, announces $8.2M Series A round

Per a bunch of reports that have popped up on Twitter this morning, Veriflow — a company started here, with ties that remain at the U of I Research Park — has landed a $8.2 million Series A funding round.

Check out the information from Twitter, namely TechCrunch and their own feed, and the press release:

Menlo Ventures leads $8.2 million funding round as Veriflow takes next steps in adoption of mathematical network verification

San Jose, Calif. – July 6, 2016 – Veriflow, the network breach and outage prevention company, today announced that it has raised $8.2 million in Series A funding, led by Menlo Ventures along with current investor New Enterprise Associates (NEA). The company will use the funding to build its sales force, hire new engineering talent and increase marketing efforts to further drive the company’s technological innovation and growth as well as industry awareness of mathematical network verification.


Illinois-based film In Circles launches IndieGoGo campaign

It's always cool when a feature film is set to come out of Champaign-Urbana, and today, locally-based director Andrew Laudone has announced an IndieGoGo campaign for his feature-length film, In Circles,  which looks pretty cool if I must be frank.

Focusing on "low budget, socially conscious projects," Laudone's company, Consumer Grade Film, seeks to create a film that catches the essence of tough topics like abortion and addiction in the context of the midwestern United States, something that is fairly seldom seen in film, especially feature film.

Check out the demo reel and the press release, embedded below, and make sure to support local film if that interests you, because this is a pretty neat concept and essential to keeping a thriving arts scene in C-U.



Southern Illinois Natives making film about Midwest struggles

Carbondale, Illinois, July 1, 2016

Raised in the area, the ambitious filmmakers at Consumer Grade Film are producing the feature length film “In Circles” covering the issues they’ve seen first hand: drug abuse, poverty, fracking, disenfranchisement. The film will be set in the midwest, filmed in the same places the Illinois graduates were sculpted in: Southern Illinois. Given the fact the filmmakers at Consumer Grade Film have recently graduated, and are covering topics largely ignored by the rest of the nation, production and funding will be a struggle of it’s own.

Consumer Grade Film is a U.S. Midwestern collective of filmmakers focusing on low budget, socially conscious projects. This collective is young and unknown, but are hoping to make a big mark with their debut film “In Circles”. In order to do this, they are looking for help from their community via the popular crowdfunding website Indiegogo.

The Indiegogo campaign would allow the film to not only be created by people from the community, but also funded by the same community, making the title “In Circles” quite literal. Currently in the preproduction
stage, Consumer Grade Film hopes to raise $10,000 to get production rolling. Incentives for contribution to the Indiegogo campaign include exclusive posters and buttons, getting to be an extra in the film, and executive producer film credits.

To follow the progress of production, you can find Consumer Grade Film on Facebook at To find more information on how to contribute to the production of “In Circles”, visit To contact Consumer Grade Film, email


Japan House is hosting Matsuri Festival on August 28th

Japan House is one of the most unique things about Champaign-Urbana in that it allows us to experience a completely separate culture from our own, all in our own back yard. While this is undoubtedly a product of C-U being a college town, and furthermore a melting pot, it's not something that happens everywhere, especially not in central Illinois.

At the end of the summer, Japan House on the University of Illinois' campus will be hosting Matsuri, a festival filled with music, candy, martial arts, and a ton more. Entry to the event is completely free, as well, leading me to believe that there may not be a better way to spend a Sunday. More info on the event can be found here, via the University.

From the Facebook Event:

Yes, we are doing it AGAIN! Mark your calendars for our second annual Matsuri! Join us on the grounds of Japan House and the University Arboretum for Japanese food and drink, taiko drum performances, the Candy Man (Japanese candy artistry), Tsugaru-shamisen performer Michiyoshi Sato, martial arts demos, fashion shows, Shiatsu massage, tea ceremonies, Ikebana and Bonsai demonstrations and displays and more! Rain or shine. All events are free, tickets for food and drink will be available for purchase. Please join us!

Photo from Japan House


Triptych unveils new beer Because, Chocolate

If you're anything like me, your drink of the day goes on a pretty consistent rotation from coffee to water to (sometimes) beer in the evening. Today, the good folks at Triptych Brewing are making that transition even easier with the release of Because, Chocolate, their new beer which combines Imperial Stout with over two pounds of cocoa nibs per barrel, and is sure to be delicious.

I may just have to run down there before they run out.

For more info, check out the text of Triptych's Facebook post below:

Available now on draft and in cans to go! We used some interesting Vietnamese cocoa nibs from Chocolate Alchemy for this batch. We think this beer pairs well with fireworks. Cheers!


Because is our series of Imperial Stouts and this edition was brewed with a judicious amount of Cocoa Nibs (over two pounds per barrel), rich dark chocolate, dried fruit, and roast combine to make this beer an excellent way to end a night or an intriguing start for the evening to come.


Rapper Frank Leone releases new single

Hip-hop artist and producer Frank Leone, originally from Monticello and now based in Urbana, has just released a new single. The song, entitled "Loser," features creative instrumentation and vocalizing that make the song unfold like a story.

Leone is not a stranger to C-U music, or to Smile Politely. The prolific musician and producer is currently working on several projects, both solo and with other artists. They include a new album, a movie, and other yet-to-be-divulged goodies.

"Loser" is a bittersweet love song, intended as a foil for his next release, which he says will be a "darker project." Let the anticipation build.

Stream his new song here.