BookBar acquires the Bookies, a Denver institution

When Sue Lubeck, founder and longtime owner of Bookmakers, who died in July, the fate of her half-century-old bookish business is suddenly called into question. It was something she had started humbly, in her basement, seeking to provide children with a magical place to find the wide and varied worlds of literature. After a decade of unexpected success, the experience spread to a store in Glendale. All the while, the staff consisted of retired teachers and the like, and Lubeck and his team worked not for the money, but for the sake of the books and the children who benefited from them.

As strong as this love was, the concern was clear: after fifty years, with the loss of Lubeck as owner and steward of the Bookies mission, the store might close. But another independent bookstore – Tennyson Street’s BookBar – now takes the Bookies under its considerable wing.

Nicole Sullivan first heard about the possibility of continuing the Bookies’ work earlier this year. “Sue’s family had contacted some time ago to see if there was any interest and resumed the conversation after her passing,” recalls Sullivan. “They were looking for buyers, disseminating them. It makes sense to speak with people already in the business. Makes it much more viable for both stores. I’m sure there is a fancy trading term for this. Economy of scale ? My degree is in anthropology, not in business. Either way, the buying process went very quickly. It’s so exciting that BookBar has had the opportunity to play a part in everything Sue has built.

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Nicole Sullivan (fourth from left) with the Bookies staff

BookBar / Bookmakers

That’s not to say kids will be able to slouch in a bookie bar for a sarsaparilla or a Shirley Temple, as adorable as the idea may be. “It won’t be a second BookBar,” Sullivan admits. “The bookmakers will remain the bookmakers. Our intention is to continue as best we can to pursue Sue’s vision and honor her legacy.

Sullivan met Lubeck herself a few times, but admired her commitment to community literacy and her determination to put books in the hands of children. “I only met Sue in passing a few times, at the bookies and at some trade shows,” says Sullivan. “She was so kind. So gracious. But ever since I took on this new business, chatting with employees, people who knew her, all we hear are stories about how amazingly unique she was. . The actual stories are just amazing. She remembered everything: birthdays, special occasions, all that, and she always planned something special for them. If someone called sick, she didn’t tell them to make sure. that his shift was covered: stories – I’m blown away. It’s such an important reminder that it’s not all about the business. It’s about the importance of people. ”

Marilyn Robbins, BookBar Children’s Program Coordinator, develops this idea. “It has never been clearer, after the past two years, what impact children’s literacy has on communities and on children themselves,” she says. “It was necessary for children and adolescents to be able to escape from everyday life. daily COVID anxiety and online learning getting lost in the stories. “

Click to enlarge The Bookies will keep its name, its history and its front garden.  - YOUTUBE

The Bookies will keep its name, its history and its front garden.

Letting children get lost in the stories has always been one of the bookies’ goals, and this sentiment was confirmed in a letter sent to staff by the Lubeck family announcing the deal. He thanked them for their years of support, acknowledged that the founder could never be replaced and promised that her legacy will continue. “We believe that Nicole has the ability, energy and enthusiasm to take the company into the future,” the letter read.

To integrate the two stores, Sullivan said the two were reincorporating as a public benefit corporation, “a first step in becoming a Certified B corporation.” This will allow bookmakers to work directly with the nonprofit BookGive, just like BookBar, donating 10 percent of all book sales and 100 percent of all VIP dues to the organization. “The mission of bookmakers has always been to put books in hand, with a very community approach. They gave discounts to educators, gave books to schools. It seems so natural,” she notes. Since opening at 4890 Lowell Boulevard in March 2020, BookGive has collected and redistributed over 70,000 books to those in need.

For longtime bookmaker customers, the transition should be seamless. Sullivan doesn’t anticipate many changes in the first few months of ownership and says everything is already underway, even though the change in ownership just took place on November 1. in the morning, impatient to go, ”she explains. “Like I said, it was quick, but we are taking all necessary steps to do it well and with respect. There is so much to learn from a bookstore that has been around for fifty years!

Bookies, the importance of learning and people, literary service to children … it seems that Sue Lubeck’s legacy is alive and well.

Bookmakers is located at 4315 East Mississippi Avenue in Glendale; BookBar is at 4280 Tennyson Street in Denver. Check out their websites to take advantage of what each does best.


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