BookBar, the indie bookstore and wine bar in Berkeley, will close in January

The bookstore opened in 2012 and captured the hearts of bookworms.

BookBar on Tennyson Street. July 24, 2021.

BookBar on Tennyson Street. July 24, 2021.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
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Denver bookworms be warned — BookBar, the hybrid bookstore and wine bar in the Berkeley neighborhood, will close its doors in January.

Nicole Sullivan opened the bookstore in 2012, occupying a building on a busy section of Tennyson Street near César Chávez Park and Berkeley Lake Park.

In the decade since, BookBar has been a popular spot to pick up local literature, attend a children’s storytime, or sip on a glass of wine. The bookstore has expanded to add event space and opened its own publishing arm in December 2020.

Despite BookBar’s sales being generally stable, Sullivan said she would not be able to keep up with a scheduled minimum wage hike.

“After pivoting countless times, rethinking everything, coming up with wild ideas, and pulling through as long as we could, the final nail in the coffin was the announcement of Denver’s minimum wage set to increase on January 1, 2023. I’m all out of pivots,” Sullivan said in her announcement. “I’m certainly not against raising the minimum wage. Everyone deserves to earn a liveable salary and we’ve always been committed to paying above the standard. I only wish this business could afford it.”

The Denver Department of Finance announced in August that Denver’s minimum wage will increase to $17.29 under a city ordinance tying pay to inflation. The city’s minimum wage is currently set at $15.87.

“Booksellers can’t raise our prices at all. As long as publishers continue to print prices on the covers of books, bookstores have no control over our margins,” she said.

BookBar will officially close January 31, 2023. Sullivan plans to stay in the bookselling business, though. She will continue running The Bookies Bookstore in Glendale, as well as BookGive, her book donation non-profit.

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