A five-year lease at 1743 Wazee Street is coming to an end, and so is the business that occupies the spot. On August 2, City Stacks Books & Coffee posted this message on its website and Facebook page:
To all our friends and valued customers: after five years, we've made the difficult decision to close the store on August 31.
Until then, all books and sidelines are 50% off.
If you have gift cards or balances on your frequent buyer account, please take this opportunity to use them as we cannot provide cash payments for the existing balance.
Thank you for your support.
In December 2015, City Stacks opened in an area of LoDo that lacked retail options. Co-founders Kevin Gillies and his son, Benjamin Gillies, teamed up with Kevin's wife, Nancy Banks, and Benjamin's longtime partner, Emily Scholl, to open the store. In August 2016, Benjamin, an avid book lover and seller, passed away after suffering from a long illness, but the trio continued to run the business.
City Stacks sought to be a small, neighborhood bookstore with a curated selection of books and goods; it often hosted local authors such as Denver historian Phil Goodstein, Tom "Dr. Colorado" Noel, and many more. And, of course, the coffee helped make it a neighborhood gathering place.
"We've thoroughly enjoyed our time there, the people we've met and the friends we've made," says Kevin Gillies. "It's really the business climate and the requirement to extend for another five-year lease that led us to this decision."
He cites difficulties in LoDo's business dynamic along with the const ant difficulties in book buying and selling as two major reasons for the decision to close.
"Last year for the [Denver] Film Festival, there were a number of Italian producers and directors in town, and they stopped in every day for coffee at our place," Gillies recalls. "We talked about film and current politics, of course. [Customers] come in because they share something with you already — they're looking for books, an espresso, and that's a natural opening that leads to conversations to share your common interests and your common humanity. That's really what I have treasured the most."
The shop owner adds that when business first began, he expected downtown's main demographic of singles and married couples with no children to drive sales at the store. However, they were surprised to find that children's books were a big part of the business. "Families who do live in the area are really dedicated to education and reading," he notes. "They want to have the experience of buying a book with their kids."
Gillies says he and City Stacks were proud to have been a part of the lasting memory for many local families shopping for children's books.
"We started out in a low-key fashion, and of course we don't feel too much like celebrating because we're closing a store, but we're opening a new chapter," says Gillies. "There are always things in the future; that's to be determined. I have another business as a consultant, and my wife is an author. We always keep ourselves busy. We got into it for a reason, and we had a good run."
City Stacks will be open for regular hours today and will close for good at 7 p.m. Saturday, August 31.
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