Transplanting a Landmark
In most cities, the move of a bookstore from one part of the metro area to another would make about as much news as the average homeowner's decision to stop mowing his lawn crosscut-style. In Denver, however, the Tattered Cover isn't just a point of pride. It's taken on near-landmark status, which explains why such a large number of people were there on a Tuesday night in June -- its second day of operation at its new home, in East Colfax's historic Lowenstein Theater. Some observations:
A few kinks are still to be worked out. One gaggle of employees huddled around the information desk, earnestly debating how the hell to make the phones work. At another counter, a cheerful staffer told a customer who'd asked him a question he couldn't answer, "We don't have a paging system here," and then jogged off to another part of the facility in search of more information. And the bargain section, among others, seems to have been undergone a bit of downsizing to fit into the Lowenstein's space. Yet the familiar forest-green carpeting and dark wood bookshelves are in place, the layout is inspired (the rows of theater seats in the refurbished orchestra pit work particularly well), and the vibe is, if anything, even more heartening than before. In one corner, a professorial -ooking fellow in a nifty jacket and a homeless man wearing considerably less tony attire perused titles side by side (wouldn't have seen that at the old Cherry Creek outlet), while a computer screen was filled with titles about gnosticism. Betcha there are lots of folks at Barnes & Noble who couldn't even pronounce that word, let alone help someone find a book on the topic.
Outside the front doors, Tattered Cover owner Joyce Meskis was in deep conversation with Paul and Jill Epstein of Twist & Shout, the music store that's set to move into the Lowenstein complex later this year. All looked a bit frazzled, and appropriately so considering what they've been through over the past several months -- but their hard work looks to have paid off. The Tattered Cover has retained its landmark status, even though it's got a new address. -- Michael Roberts