The Tattered Cover bookstore, with five famed locations around the Denver area, will expand next year. A Colorado Springs location is planned to open in February 2022, with goals to emphasize local artists and authors through community-building events.
Tattered Cover CEO Kwame Spearman wants the bookstore to be a central piece of the community, even in the era of online shopping and e-readers. Spearman feels the Tattered Cover will thrive as a gathering place for booklovers as well.
With the rise of online retailers such as Amazon, brick-and-mortar stores have to rethink their business strategy to compete with the convenience of online shopping.
Matthew Metzger is an associate professor of innovation and entrepreneurship at UCCS. He said that brick-and-mortar stores have to offer consumers more value than online retailers can offer.
“I think, all of the brick-and-mortar stores that you look at — that have done well or have survived COVID — have kind of taken a step back and figured out, ‘Hey, we’re still offering a valuable product or service, we might just have to offer a slightly different way,’” he said.
Spearman believes the Tattered Cover will do just that. He said, “Retail is going to fundamentally change, but it’s not going away. And if retail businesses can provide their customers something that’s experiential, and something that really flexes on curations, they have a fighting chance.”
Spearman wants to highlight local artists and authors at the Tattered Cover and feels that involving the community in the bookstore will ensure the store will flourish.
He said, “We need more local authors in our stores. We need more local artists in our stores. We need their work on our shelves, but we also need them in the store for that.”
“We need Community Leaders in places like Colorado Springs, talking about the importance of books and their lives. All those things do a really good job of driving foot traffic in-store, and that absolutely leads to sales,” Spearman said.
The Tattered Cover has a history of working with the community through book clubs and facilitating author visits at Denver public schools.
“That’s something Amazon doesn’t do, right? It takes a fundamentally local organization to create those types of relationships in a school district where they have the ability to connect with people in that type of [capacity],” Spearman said.
Spearman also feels that the pandemic has given customers a desire for human connection and that Tattered Cover’s role in fulfilling that need will be the key to its success in its Colorado Springs location. It will additionally house a coffee bar and a wine and beer area where patrons can meet up.
“What we all realized from COVID is that, even though we could replicate a lot of these things that we would do in a physical brick and mortar space, the social aspect being stripped away from that was psychologically charged for a lot of people,” Metzger said.
Spearman said, “What I think people are starving for are real-life connections and real-life experiences…And my hope is that if we deliver on those types of things, that really creates this sort of community force. And if there’s a community force and we’re supporting the community, our business is going to be just fine.”
Spearman emphasized the importance of community involvement in the success of small businesses. He said, “I think that communities have to make this decision, ‘Do they want local businesses or not?’”
He continued, “If they want local businesses, I’m not saying every single book you buy needs to be from Tattered Cover…I do think there’s an intentionality across all local businesses, local restaurants, local retail, that you got to dedicate some of [your spending] to us.”
The Colorado Springs store will be located next to Oskar Blues on N. Tejon St. According to Spearman, the Tattered Cover will look at expanding to more Colorado Springs locations in the future depending on how the new location fares.