BookBar, a beloved bookstore and wine bar, will close for good at the end of January next year, with the owner blaming fatigue and rising costs.
On Monday, owner Nicole Sullivan announced the closure of her business at 4280 Tennyson St. on Jan. 31, 2023, after its 10th holiday season. After the COVID-19 pandemic put a strain on her and other entrepreneurs, Sullivan said she is now looking for a change.
“With nearly all of the costs of doing business on the rise, our expenses continue to outpace revenues,” she said in a statement. “It’s just not viable in the long term anymore.”
Although Sullivan said she will miss the cultured community at the Berkeley neighborhood haunt, she’s “really ready to move on, change course and work less.”
Created in 2013, BookBar offers more than a selection of texts for purchase. It hosts events including story hours, poetry readings and book clubs, and feeds bibliophiles with a menu of appetizers.
Sullivan had “no idea how long this business would last or if it would work at all when we open,” she wrote in an open letter to her clients posted on BookBar’s website.
She hadn’t expected the business to last more than a decade or so, adding that she felt “an underlying sense of relief” when BookBar was forced to close due to COVID-19 in March 2020. “No one was more surprised than me when it started to look like BookBar would survive the pandemic.
Sullivan pointed out that business costs are skyrocketing “much faster than the prices of books, food and drink can keep up.” In a blog post, she described the “final nail in the coffin” as Denver’s minimum wage increase, set for the first day of next year.
Sullivan said while she’s “definitely” not against the raise, her company can’t make it financially.
When BookBar first opened, “minimum wage was $7.78,” Sullivan wrote. “In January, it will go to $17.29. This represents an increase of approximately 122% over the past 10 years.
This point caused a slight stir on Twitter, with several accounts frowning on the reason.
I love BookBar and I’m sad, but I’m also a firm believer that if your company can’t earn a living wage, why are you employing people? https://t.co/lW3FoAt7Ox
— Alison Berg (@alison__berg) September 26, 2022
Sullivan called the inability of booksellers to raise the price of their books “one of the great flaws” in the industry. “With apologies to my editor friends, I would so much rather be able to control my own margins than jump through all the hoops of an archaic system.”
In particular, the BookBar team will not sell the building. The company’s media contact did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.
Customers took to their keyboards to collectively mourn the eventual loss of the business on social media.
“This was really hard news to read. But I also fully understand each of your reasons,” Denver resident Carmela LaVigna Coyle wrote in a Facebook post by BookBar. “THANK YOU for creating a dream bookstore for Denver readers and writers.”
Sullivan hopes that “another book lover with big ideas and an abundance of optimism” will step onto the scene and fill the gap left by BookBar’s absence.
She will devote more time to her children and her husband and will pursue her other projects: the Bookies bookstore at 4315 E. Mississippi Ave., the non-profit organization BookGive and the publisher BookBar Press.