By Shari Valenta
Ah, to curl up and read a book, a favorite pastime for families on those cold winter months in front of the fire. If you live or work down south, you have a brand new place to find your favorite titles. Tattered Cover, established in 1971, is one of the largest independent booksellers in the country with over 100,000 books. A new store was recently added to its Cherry Creek and LoDo locations, in the new Highlands Ranch Town Center on Highlands Ranch Parkway between Broadway and Lucent Boulevard.
The store covers 21,754 square feet, which is just about the size of the LoDo store; the Cherry Creek store is still the largest, at 40,000 square feet. Coincidence or not, the grand opening just happened to fall on the first day of Children’s Book Week, observed November 15-21. Because of its close proximity to the suburbs and many families, this location has focused its efforts on making a spacious children’s section, with a vast selection of literature for all ages. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, there’s a “Storytime” at 10:30 a.m. The decor is fun, and there’s a lot of interesting furniture, including a low bench decorated with a saddle. In addition to an abundant and delightful children’s section, the new store offers a comfy atmosphere with multitudes of nooks and crannies to become absorbed in a book. The space is completely covered with carpeting, so even sitting on the floor is okay in this relaxed atmosphere. If squatting hurts your knees, there’s a large coffee bar with ample seating for perusing poetry or whatever strikes your fancy.
The Tattered Cover is a great resource for children, but adults also choose to shop there, so they can support a Denver-based company. Another good reason adults appreciate the bookshop is because the store doesn’t limit access to reading material.
Matt Miller, general manager of the new store, has been with the company for 26 years. He speaks favorably of his boss, Joyce Meskis, who took ownership of the store in 1974. She’s won many awards both locally and nationally for promoting literacy and also has been a strong advocate for reader’s rights.
“She’s been involved in trying to protect the First Amendment rights of her readers for over 30 years,” remarked Miller. “She’s willing to fight to maintain the rights of our readers to have access to constitutionally protected material and let the customer decide what they want to buy and not buy. We shouldn’t be making those choices for our customers.”
That’s unlike many large retailers that have chosen not to carry certain books because they might not be for everybody. At the Tattered Cover, if you want a book dealing with homosexuality, there’s a section devoted to that; at the same time, if you’re religious, you can find a variety of books about faith.
Despite the competition of big chains, the company has grown in size and popularity.
“I think it’s an act of love to create the stores and keep the stores. She’s a very special person because she loves books, loves people and loves providing books for the community,” said Miller of Meskis.
The Tattered Cover is also a great addition to the neighborhood because they offer a program called the “TC Gives Back.” When a customer signs up for the free program, they can choose an organization from a list of charities who will receive one percent (before taxes) of the revenues from the books they buy.
Another good value to customers is called the “TC 25″ Discount Program,” in which the store selects 25 new hardcover titles to discount at 25 percent. The store will also have the bargain section all locations have kept up in the past.
How can one be sure their title is in stock? If it’s not in stock, Miller says, the staff will check to see if it’s at one of their other stores and make the transfer or order it. Depending on the publisher, ordering can take up to a few days or a few weeks.
The Tattered Cover has what it calls “bend-over-backward service.” Miller good-naturedly helps even in the most bizarre customer requests.
“We’ve had people call and ask us to read recipes from cookbooks because they just spilled their tomato sauce on their recipe and they can’t read it,” he laughs.
In addition to good customer service at the new store, as always, patrons can enjoy the same opportunities to meet their favorite writers at book signings. It already welcomed a few visitors in December, including Colorado author Diane Mott Davidson.
What does the future hold for this little reading corner of the earth?
“We’ll listen to what customers need; it just takes time to fine tune things,” Miller said. “We’re just really happy to be here. The response from the community so far has been really rewarding; we’re hoping to be here for a long time.”
For more information, call 303-470-7050, or visit [http://www.tatteredcover.com/].