TAT­TERED COVER BOOK STORE’S OWN­ER­SHIP TURN­ING A PAGE

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Em­i­lie Rusch Den­ver Post file

When Joyce Meskis took over the Tat­tered Cover Book Store in 1974, it was a strug­gling shop. On Satur­day, 43 years later, an­other chap­ter starts.

Shop­pers at the Tat­tered Cover Book Store’s four Den­ver area shops prob­a­bly won’t no­tice much of a dif­fer­ence, but this week­end marks an im­por­tant mo­ment in the busi­ness’ 46-year his­tory.

Len Vla­hos and Kris­ten Gil­li­gan of­fi­cially ac­quire a con­trol­ling in­ter­est in the book­store Satur­day as long­time owner Joyce Meskis re­tires, mark­ing the end of a two-year own­er­ship tran­si­tion.

“The tran­si­tion has been so good and so fluid that it’s a lit­tle an­ti­cli­mac­tic,” said Vla­hos, the book­store’s CEO. “But this is what we’ve been work­ing to­ward. This is why we came here. We’re ex­cited.”

“It’s turned out even bet­ter (than ex­pected) — it is in­cred­i­ble,” said Gil­li­gan, who is lead­ing Tat­tered Cover’s out­reach to young read­ers. “I am more pas­sion­ate and en­thu­si­as­tic than I was be­fore, and I’m an en­thu­si­as­tic, pas­sion­ate per­son by na­ture. So if that’s pos­si­ble, I am.”

The cou­ple has al­ready be­gun to leave a mark on the busi­ness for which they moved their young fam­ily cross coun­try two years ago. In an in­ter­view last month, they promised some “big things” yet to come.

What won’t change, though, are Tati­den­tity tered Cover’s beloved nooks and cran­nies, chairs and couches and lamps. Same goes for the ex­tra tall shelves and dark­green car­pet­ing.

The busi­ness’ com­mit­ment to free speech, pro­tect­ing read­ers’ pri­vacy and po­lit­i­cal neu­tral­ity isn’t go­ing any­where, ei­ther, Vla­hos said.

“We want cus­tomers, no mat­ter who they are, to feel they can come into Tat­tered Cover and browse for books and con­tent without fear of be­ing judged. Whether you want to come in for a book on gen­der or a book on gun own­er­ship, you’re wel­come here,” Vla­hos said. “We want to help get the right book into your hands. That’s an im­por­tant prin­ci­ple for us. It’s some­thing that Joyce cul­ti­vated here that we ab­so­lutely in­tend to con­tinue.”

Mov­ing for­ward, a re­tool of the web­site could be com­ing this fall, as well as maybe some after-hours events for adults. A ro­bust event sched­ule will con­tinue, in­clud­ing fall en­gage­ments with for­mer “CBS Evening News” an­chor Dan Rather and mega best­selling au­thor Dan Brown, the sec­ond an­nual Colorado Teen Book Con in Novem­ber and an Ed­u­ca­tor Night in Septem­ber.

Other changes al­ready in place in­clude a new com­puter sys­tem, launched in Fe­bru­ary, an over­haul of the stores’ cof­fee bars and a part­ner­ship with Li­bro.fm, a dig­i­tal au­dio­book plat­form that sup­ports in­de­pen­dent book­sell­ers.

“At the end of the day, we have to ask our­selves, with ev­ery­thing we do — whether it’s Kris­ten talk­ing to a dozen new schools ... or me deal­ing with a new com­puter sys­tem ... — how does this im­pact the cus­tomer?” Vla­hos said.

“We still want this to be a des­ti­na­tion ex­pe­ri­ence,” Gil­li­gan said. “We just want to make it even bet­ter.”

Len Vla­hos and his wife, Kris­ten Gil­li­gan, ac­quire a con­trol­ling in­ter­est in the book­store Satur­day.

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