Saturday, April 25, 2015

Denver's favorite indie bookstore, Tattered Cover

Tattered Cover is an independent bookstore in Denver that has grown considerably over the years, starting out as a single store in the wealthy Cherry Creek neighborhood, and becoming a small, local chain with three stores and an annex in the newly redesigned Union Station.

Lately there have been several pieces of news regarding this longtime favorite of Denver bookworms.

The first piece of news is that the Highlands Ranch store, which opened ten years ago, moved to a much smaller location.  It was a very large branch located in a very suburban neighborhood, unlike the other very urban locations, and when it opened it was modeled after the big Barnes & Nobles stores with coffee shops that had been so successful in similar neighborhoods.  There was also a good deal of meeting space throughout the store, complete with the antique chairs, tables, and lamps that make all of the Tattered Cover stores so unique, and it had become a favorite meeting place for local NaNoWriMo write-ins over the years.

We found out just last month that the Highlands Ranch store was closing and reopening in Littleton, much closer to where I live (which is nice, because I feel like I have to drive a distance in any direction before I get to any bookstores, whether indie or chain).  However it's a much smaller chain, and while I haven't been there yet, I've heard from others that there is considerably less meeting space, or even places to sit.  They still have a coffee shop, so presumably they still have seating, but it sounds like there's less.

The other, and perhaps bigger news is that the owner is selling Tattered Cover.  She's elderly and has been running the stores for over 40 years, so it's probably time, but it's still a shock for those of us who can't remember Denver without Tattered Cover.

It does sound like she's doing it right.  She's chosen like-minded people as the new owners, and she's working with them as part-owners for a couple of years before retiring.  That'll give the new owners a chance to learn from her, in the hopes that they'll stay true to the store's original values.  The original owner managed to build on her brick-and-mortar bookstore during a time when big box chains like Barnes & Noble were eating indie stores for lunch, and then again when the electronic revolution picked up speed.

Scary and exciting times ahead -- in the short term, I'm looking forward to getting over to the new location, but I also look forward to seeing how the new owners handle the chain.

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