If you’re from around here, that emerald–green carpet at Tattered Cover Book Store might unlock a certain memory.
After a tough year and a three-month delay in operations, Tattered Cover Book Store is ready to open its highly anticipated, new LoDo location in McGregor Square to the public and has scheduled for a grand opening this Saturday, June 12.
Starting at 9 a.m., over 100 people will form a human “bookworm” assembly line between the bookstore’s former and new location, passing the last book down from the old store hand-to-hand until it reaches its new location.
With large glass windows letting natural light in, as CEO Kwame Spearman calls it, a “riot of sunlight,” the new space is an ideal, but likely crowded, reading or study nook to soak in Colorado’s 300 days of sunshine.
The new space – right in the heart of LoDo next to Coors Field – is an eight-minute walk from the store’s previous location in the Historic Morey Mercantile Building on the corner of 16th Street, which first opened in 1994. The new, two-floor, 6,800 square-foot space is located next to a Starbucks on the ground floor and includes genres from contemporary adult literature to a kids’ corner for a family-friendly hangout. The second floor overlooks Coors Field and LoDo, allowing Denverites to browse or get work done while appreciating some of our city’s MVPs.
Spearman got appointed the new role last December – alongside his high school debate rival David Back – after prior owners, Len Vlahos and Kristen Gilligan sold the chain to Bended Page, LLC. Following a year of controversial backlash over the previous owners’ statement of neutrality following the spark in Black Lives Matter protests, Spearman wants Tattered Cover Book Store to raise shelf-awareness to harbor conversations that foster community support through education and representation.
“We want the new location to be a place where people can have dialogue and a chance to interact with each other,” said Spearman.
A shelf dedicated to Hue-Man Experience, displays books curated by Clara Villarosa–founder of the Hue-Man Experience bookstore in Denver– to cultivate more equity, social and political dialogue and BIPOC-driven narratives. Other displays feature staff recommendations, books of the month, whimsy goods for bibliophiles and mugs printed with designs by local artists.
“As the world starts to look for different types of stories and narratives, we want to help be a part of that conversation,” said Spearman.
With a focus on building local community engagement, Holland and Spearman want to focus on emphasizing more local authors and publications to prop up the local economy following a tough year of economic downturns due to COVID. They plan to use Tattered Cover as a launchpad to feature emerging local authors from book signings and other events.
Despite a background in engineering, the bookstore’s long-time LoDo manager, Derek Holland, will continue to carry his love and passion for books to the Tattered Cover Book Store community after 30 years.
“I’ve always loved books, so being in a position where I get to talk about books all day is perfect,” said Holland. “There’s just something so special about the way people can use and rearrange words in different ways to tell a story.”
He added that Tattered Cover Book Store’s standing impression on locals has earned its reputation as a required stop for outside visitors – that and its top-notch customer service.
It’s been an anticipated development, and despite business delays and mandate hurdles, Spearman said it was the team’s grind that made it all happen in time for the company’s 50th anniversary. Under new ownership and a sweet new spot, the book store’s latest moves will push its legacy in a positive direction and continue to leave a mark on Denver.
“We love hearing about the memories people have had growing up with Tattered Cover Book Store, and we hope to continue building that for the future,” said Spearman.
Tattered Cover Bookstore plans to introduce a new concept, Tattered Cover Kids, scheduled to open its first location in the Stanley Marketplace later this summer. The chain has additional stores at Aspen Grove and East Colfax, with plans to introduce more locations soon.
Tattered Cover Bookstore at McGregor Square is located at 1901 Wazee Street, Denver.
All photography by Kori Hazel unless noted otherwise.