Updated Oct 17, 2023 - News

Tattered Cover Book Store files for bankruptcy

David Peterson looks over a book at the Tattered Cover Book Store in Littleton, Colo. Photo: Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver's iconic indie bookstore, Tattered Cover, may be starting its final chapter.

Driving the news: The bookstore filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, it said in a statement released Monday.

  • It will try to reorganize to remain in business during the process.

Why it matters: It's a dark turn for a beloved shop that's captivated Denverites since opening its first location in the city's Cherry Creek neighborhood in 1971, becoming one of the most successful indie bookstores in the country and destination for bookworms everywhere.

What they're saying: "Our objective is to put Tattered Cover on a smaller, more modern and financially sustainable platform that will ensure our ability to serve Colorado readers for many more decades," Tattered Cover CEO Brad Dempsey, a bankruptcy attorney, said in a statement.

State of play: The filing means three of its seven stores will close by November. The impacted stores are inside McGregor Square near Coors Field in Denver, Colorado Springs and Westminster.

  • 27 of the bookstore's 103 positions will be eliminated.

Context: Previous owners Len Vlahos and Kristen Gilligan sold the bookstore to a local investment group consisting of Kwame Spearman and David Back in December 2020. The new ownership group expanded to three locations.

  • Spearman said in a statement at the time the sale meant the "community treasure" would remain available for future generations.

By the numbers: The company was running more than $660,000 in the red from January to September, according to court documents reviewed by the Denver Post.

  • It owes more than $1 million to book publishers and more than $375,000 to the state's auditor office in abandoned gift cards.

What's next: Once approved, the bankruptcy filing will give Tattered Cover access to $1 million in special financing, Dempsey told the Denver Post.

  • The company plans on using the money to buy books for the holiday season.

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