Tattered Cover finally opens in Westminster after construction and COVID delays

Even though the store’s new, one of the bookstore’s legendary figures awaits you.

A sculpture of longtime Tattered Cover customer Charlie Shugarts, inside Westminster's new Tattered Cover.

A sculpture of longtime Tattered Cover customer Charlie Shugarts, inside Westminster's new Tattered Cover.

Kyle Harris/Denverite
kyle harris

Earlier this month, in a story about Tattered Cover’s growing pains, we reported the opening of the long-awaited Westminster store had been stalled for months. Happily, the beloved independent book chain has finally launched its 6,494-square-foot location at 8895 Westminster Blvd.

The one-story shop is adjacent to the Alamo Drafthouse, J.C. Penny, and the Origin Hotel, in a new development dubbed Downtown Westminster. It’s a trendy community, with retail and restaurants galore — a deviation from the otherwise sprawling suburb.

The Westminster branch has been slated to open for months said CEO Kwame Spearman, who hoped to launch before the holiday season, traditionally the most profitable in the company’s year. But staff burnout, book delivery issues, construction delays, and COVID-19 cases among staff made that impossible, he said.

Finally, last week, the store opened its doors and enjoyed a busy weekend.

Walk inside, and you’ll be greeted by enthusiastic workers and a see a familiar figure, artist Quang Ho’s fiberglass and resin sculpture of longtime patron Charlie Shugarts, who passed away in 2007. For years, the sculpture sat on the balcony at the Tattered Cover Colfax location.

The new shop boasts a cafe, wine and beer bar, dubbed Tattered Cover Best Cellars.

It’s the first bar inside a Tattered Cover, a concept Spearman hopes to expand to other locations.

“This location has been years in the making and we are thrilled to welcome the Westminster community to the newest Tattered Cover,” said Spearman in a statement. “Our goal is to share a love of literature with every Coloradan and we can’t think of a better spot than Westminster to be the home of our first bar within a bookstore, creating a true destination for book-lovers and a community hub for conversation and connection.”

The Westminster branch, which was picked by the company’s previous owners, Len Vlahos and Kristen Gilligan, is the first of two new spots announced for 2022.

The next will be a shop in Colorado Springs. Last year, Tattered Cover moved its longtime LoDo store to McGregor Square, plans set in motion by Vlahos and Gilligan. The company also opened a children’s bookstore at the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora.

Tattered Cover continues to struggle economically, and Spearman said its future is far from guaranteed.

The shop was facing bankruptcy when the new owners took over and remained in the red a year later. Growth statewide is Spearman’s strategy for saving the company.

“The amount of revenue from our stores was not enough to support the entire organization. To secure a future for our brand and avoid bankruptcy, we had two options — to grow or dramatically cut costs with company-wide layoffs. We chose to grow,” Spearman told us last year. “By adding more stores, we’re hoping to provide more revenue — which will help us get to a point where we can pay people what they deserve.”

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