Breaking: The Bookies Is Moving

The Bookies was named Best Bookstore for New Books in Westword's 2023 Best of Denver issue.
The Bookies was named Best Bookstore for New Books in Westword's 2023 Best of Denver issue. YouTube
The Bookies, our 2023 Best of Denver winner for Best Bookstore - New Books, has been an independent store serving Denver families and educators since 1971. In 2021, BookBar founder Nicole Sullivan bought the neighborhood store after the passing of founding owner Sue Lubeck, and The Bookies entered a new era. That new era became even more important to Denver’s literary scene when Sullivan closed BookBar last year, promising to continue its mission of literacy, diversity, equity and inclusion, freedom of expression and environmental sustainability — with The Bookies at the forefront.

To that end, The Bookies is announcing today that it will be moving this fall from its current location at South Colorado Boulevard and Mississippi Avenue to a new spot just north of Evans Avenue at 2085 South Holly Street, which is being vacated by Lehrer Fireplace and Patio.

Sullivan says the move will enable The Bookies to “expand on the concept that Sue Lubeck created in her home basement over fifty years ago, providing educational titles and materials to Denver families.” But the new location promises some perks, too. The Bookies will soon be able to “offer more programming and services, truly creating an education destination, while integrating our nonprofit and small press into our daily store operations,” she notes.
click to enlarge woman in front of bookshelf
Founder Sue Lubeck in the soon-to-be former Bookies space,
The Bookies will hold a large sale in the months ahead of the move, and should be in the new location in time for the holidays. The new space will offer the same inventory of books, games, toys and educator supplies, as well as gathering spaces for events, storytimes, book clubs and readers. “The Lehrer family has even been gracious enough to leave a couple of their gorgeous fireplaces,” writes Sullivan in a soon-to-be-published blog post. “We’ll circle around the large front flagstone fireplace for events and story times.”

Sullivan tells us that one of her main priorities after closing BookBar and focusing on The Bookies was to purchase a property instead of continuing to lease. “I also thought it would be beneficial to move out of the current strip-mall location where we are tucked into a corner, just a block away from a Barnes & Noble," she adds. "We've been looking for new locations for at least a year but nothing, until recently, was large enough or close enough to the current location.”

click to enlarge woman in front of bookshelf
Nicole Sullivan in the old BookBar location.
Nicole Sullivan
Cue the discovery that Lehrer’s planned to close a spot that was not only perfect in terms of space, but also for honoring community legacy. Sullivan says she recently found out that the South Holly location was built by the current owners’ grandfather — so it seems fitting that the Lehrer's building, home to a Denver business institution, will soon host an equally long-standing local business like The Bookies.

“It was very important to stay close to the roots and customer base of this fifty-year-old bookstore,” says Sullivan. “It has been in its current location for forty years, so we didn't want to be too disruptive by moving too far away. The new building is only two miles from where we are now, which will be good for all of our customers, staff and partners.”

The new location will see some changes, but Sullivan says all of them are positives: more natural light, higher ceilings, a more recognizable — and findable — location. The move will also allow The Bookies to expand its outreach to school and various literary organizations around the city, providing indoor parking for a newly-purchased, fully-electric transit van. The store's former vehicle, dubbed Mavis the Magical Bookmobile, is a 1994 Ford Ambulance and has now retired. “We thank her for her service,” says Sullivan. “This new van will allow us to take our show on the road while being much more kind to the planet.”

But what of the former BookBar space on Tennyson, which Sullivan still owns?

“We didn't consider moving into the BookBar space. It's just not large enough for what we do at The Bookies, which is currently 7,000 square feet. The BookBar space is roughly half of that,” explains Sullivan. “And, again, we didn't want to take the business too far away from the current customer base and the staff who live close to Colorado and Mississippi. I love the concept of having all of the things we do in one location.” Sullivan does promise that there will be a new tenant going into the Tennyson Street building soon, however.

In the meantime, she's focusing on The Bookies. "We are all so excited for this next evolution of one of Denver’s beloved literary institutions,” Sullivan says, “and look forward to continuing to serve Denver families and educators for years to come.”

For more information and to check for updates, see The Bookies website.
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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen

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