Life Among the Never-Winged

Once upon a time I was writing a book called, "Just Another Love Letter", about angels behaving badly. Now I just quietly ask myself each day, "What the hell am I doing?"

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Location: The Rocky Mountain Empire, United States

My friends always knew I was going to hell. My only hope is that God likes good jokes and bad redheads.

Life Among the Never-Winged Sponsored By:
  • Books Unlimited
  • Thursday, September 20, 2007

    Now I Can Talk

    I've been unmuzzled.

    Books Unlimited is starting its Going Out of Business Sale today.

    For any new readers, this is my husband O's used bookstore. The store was opened nearly twenty years ago by his father. O has worked in the store his entire adult life, taking charge a year and a half ago. The bookstore has served homeless folk and Pulitzer Prize winning authors alike, doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs. Literally. It has seen floods, blizzards, construction, and four moves. And it has seen a change in Denver and the book-buying population in general. The last is what has prompted the decision to close the chapter on a mortar and bricks location.

    Our last move was a good one – to a stretch of Broadway called Antiques Row, where you can find all manner of European furniture, stained glass windows, art, clothing, and of course books. The building is beautiful, the store archetypal with its shelves stretching to the ceiling, pressed tin ceilings, vintage Victorian furniture, even a secret room hidden away behind a bookcase. We're actually in a competition for favorite Denver bookstore, just behind Denver's famous independently-owned new bookstore.

    But it's not enough. Things change. The city of Denver is planning a construction project that will tear up Broadway along Antiques Row over the next eight months (read twelve, at least). And when the concrete has settled, there will be fewer parking spots in front of the bookstore. But the real killer – a median down Broadway will stretch for four blocks and prevent any left turns, even in the intersections.

    The shopping public has changed too. It's evolution, plain and simple. Browsing has gone from footwork to fingerwork as more and more shoppers trade pavement for keyboards. I do it too. It's so much easier to look online, and sites named after giant rivers make it easy to find any book you want, new or used.

    It's time to go.

    No, it's time to change. Evolve.

    O will continue Books Unlimited online after the storefront closes. He has a website, a domain name to kill for, and he happens to be one of the giant-river-named-site's used booksellers. Through diligence and planning (and luck, let's not deny it) we have a cushion. We'll land on our feet.

    Other bookstores, and small shops in general, are not so lucky. This Broadway 'renewal' will have a deep, and in my opinion, detrimental, effect on the small, independently-owned businesses along the construction site. But it spreads out further. Used bookstores all along the foothills are suffering. I think we may be driving the engine in a long train of closures. And that saddens me.

    If it saddens you too, and you wonder if there is anything you can do, I would urge you to visit the small shops in your area. These are your neighbors, this is your community. And don't ignore the aforementioned mega online booksite. But shop it wisely when buying used. There is a growing trend of large used sellers that are based more on the principle of selling 'units' rather than books, and are operated like any box store. Look for the little guys. You might find us.

    Labels: ,

    17 people left me a love letter:

    Blogger Esereth wrote in a love letter...

    You're my hero for seeing this, correctly, all as change and growth. Please post lots about the changes and growth that comes.

    11:16 AM, September 20, 2007  
    Blogger Irrelephant wrote in a love letter...

    Having held in my heart the lost hope dream of opening a brick and mortar tobacco shop in this increasingly anti-tobacco world I have to applaud you guys for being able to adapt to a very dynamic environment, and like esereth said, for seeing it for what it is, for not letting it strike you completely down. Well done!

    11:33 AM, September 20, 2007  
    Blogger Irrelephant wrote in a love letter...

    Oh, and I didn't know Barnes & Noble was named for a giant river. I always figured it was named for the two guys who founded it. Hmmm. Learn something new every day.

    11:47 AM, September 20, 2007  
    Blogger Bud wrote in a love letter...

    Well, I'm pretty damn sad about this too! We've patronized mostly used book stores and always buy used on line. So you can bet we'll be seeing you there. Give us a URL we can bookmark, please. Best of luck to you and O!

    3:30 PM, September 20, 2007  
    Blogger ms chica wrote in a love letter...

    When things are established, let me know how to find O's used bookstore. I prefer used books though in moments of desperation I fall back on those river guys.

    7:27 PM, September 20, 2007  
    Blogger liv wrote in a love letter...

    What Chica said. AND this makes me sad in the same way that walking the streets of Steamboat isn't just the same since the cute, local hardware store and bookstore shut down. It just makes me holiday treasure hunts different and weird.

    7:32 PM, September 20, 2007  
    Blogger Mother of Invention wrote in a love letter...

    I hope your cushion gives you a soft landing with the change. We live right across the street from a used book store called, "A Novel Idea" which I frquent a lot. I take all my used boks there and he gives you credit for them.

    9:15 PM, September 20, 2007  
    Blogger Stucco wrote in a love letter...

    Online it'd be impossible to experience the whole "Buy some candy, Jerk!" phenomenon. That's probably a good thing...

    11:37 PM, September 20, 2007  
    Blogger Schmoopie wrote in a love letter...

    I will always remember how Stucco would talk about stopping by Books Unlimited at lunch time when you were by DU. Mostly, he went in there to talk crap with O. Being able to connect with people in a small storefront, chat the hours away and come out of it with some of the best friends anyone could hope for- that is what will be missing for others in the future. You can't get that by clicking on a keyboard.

    O. you have a gift. I am so glad Stucco decided to frequent the store!

    11:42 PM, September 20, 2007  
    Blogger DaDuck wrote in a love letter...

    That is too bad. They say that large commercial development is the killer of the family business:( Governments and large companies don't think about the little people and how simple things like tearing up a road will affect the businesses there.

    4:51 AM, September 21, 2007  
    Blogger Mona Buonanotte wrote in a love letter...

    My city has decided to undertake 'renovation projects', which generally means tearing down the older stores with character to put up condos or chain restaurants. I hate it. I hate the money-grubbiness of it.

    You two are smart, switching to online. I am certain it will work for you. And I'm sad it had to happen.

    6:06 AM, September 21, 2007  
    Blogger meno wrote in a love letter...

    Will this mean that O works from home? Or from a warehouse?

    I love used bookstores, they even smell better than the new ones.

    9:45 AM, September 21, 2007  
    Blogger Scott from Oregon wrote in a love letter...

    My sister opened her dog business and shortly thereafter they tore up the roads surrounding her.

    Same deal. Renewal came to mean upheaval and a killing off of the downtown area...

    12:19 PM, September 22, 2007  
    Blogger amusing wrote in a love letter...

    And the NYT just did an article on businesses in Fort Greene suffering and closing b/c they tore up the road for months and months and months.....

    I have a business card I got back in the day when I was at the ABA convention in Chicago (it was called the ABA BEA?). The rep from some new business thingie stopped by and as I was out of the booth, he left off his card. The editor who talked to him scrawled a note on it for me: "These guys are going to be selling books over the computer or something." It was Amaz*on....har har AH, how naive we all were then....

    7:34 PM, September 22, 2007  
    Blogger Nancy Dancehall wrote in a love letter...

    Thanks Es. I will. For starters, the store averaged about 200 customers a day over the past four days. Two women actually got weepy.

    Sink or swim in that big river, Ir.

    Thanks, Bud. The URL is

    No problem, Ms. Chica. And like I said, there's noting wrong with those big river guys. They just changed the landscape, as rivers will.

    That's a shame, Liv. Let me know the next time you're out this way!

    What a cool name, MOI. Long may they last.

    True, Stucco, you get a lot of, 'Girls used to whizzgiggle at my putz and young bucks in urban comfort stations too.' but electric spam just aint the same as candy-selling spam on the hoof.

    O used to tell me about this guy from the computer store who would come in and trade for board books with rounded corners because his daughter liked to hit him in the head with them. I said, 'O. This guy wants to be your _friend_. Invite him over, will you?' I'm glad he finally believed me and did. Even cooler that his wife was watching a show on tornadoes the day I met _her_. :-)

    True dat, Duck. Even the reps who came around with the 'good' news didn't get it.

    That's what's going on around here, Mona. And the landlords are eating it up, raising rents to price out small businesses and attract chains. It's gonna bite them in the ass.

    Both, Meno, since I won't let him turn the house into a warehouse. :-) I think he'll be doing most of the computerwork from home. The details are still fuzzy.

    Amen, Scott. They might as well dig a moat around a store.

    Oh my God, Amusing, that's a riot! O laughed too. And thank you for your comment on my 'Letting Go' post. It was harder to share it than it was to write it, actually. *hug*

    9:13 PM, September 23, 2007  
    Blogger Lynn wrote in a love letter...

    This reminds me of "You've Got Mail" where the big bookstore runs the little one out of business. Sometimes "progress" isn't really.

    9:49 PM, September 23, 2007  
    Anonymous d-man wrote in a love letter...

    That is a suck.

    2:13 AM, September 24, 2007  

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