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.