By Eric Heinz
For Nicole Sullivan, it was a mixed range of emotions in deciding to close BookBar.
The BookBar owner announced recently that the Tennyson location will close Jan. 31 after 10 years in business. The owner of the building, Sullivan, told The Denver North Star that she will lease the property in the future after the closure, and she is still looking for a tenant.
“No one was more surprised than I was when it started looking like BookBar would actually make it through the pandemic,” Sullivan wrote on her business’s website. “I should have known that our community would rally around us and that readers would change their buying habits in order to keep independent bookstores alive.”
Sullivan said the decision to close was based on a few factors, such as increasing minimum wages and because she wants to spend more time with her family.
“For us, it comes down to very simple math,” Sullivan wrote. “When I opened BookBar in 2013 the minimum wage was $7.78. In January, it will increase to $17.29. That is roughly a 122% increase in the past 10 years. Compare that to the price of books, which have only increased around 5-7% in the past 10 years. It just doesn’t work.”
Sullivan said the sales from the bar helped the profit margins, but it also increased the complexity of the business. While food and drink competitors can raise their prices, prices of books are set to the publisher’s standard. Other ventures of Sullivan are not leaving, however.
BookBar owns The Bookies Bookstore at E. Mississippi Avenue. BookGive, a nonprofit affiliated with BookBar, will continue to operate in its location at 4890 Lowell Blvd. The BookBar printing press operation is also going to continue to operate at the Tennyson location.
“I just want to encourage everybody to keep supporting local businesses and certainly independent bookstores,” Sullivan said. “They’re so important for the community, and I feel really bad taking down this community resource. But, at the same time, there are so many creative people out there with great ideas. I feel if there’s a need, it will get filled.”
BookBar’s hours are now 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Storytime hours have also been reduced to twice a week, 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and 10:30 a.m. on Fridays.