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Kwame Spearman, CEO and co-owner of Tattered Cover, said the Springs market might be the most exciting in the state.

Denver’s Tattered Cover is set to open a Colorado Springs location next year, in the historic Downtown building once occupied by Zeezo’s. 

The lease at 112 N. Tejon St. was made public Oct. 8, and the bookstore joins the Denver Biscuit Company and Denver-based fast-casual restaurant Birdcall in the list of successful northern Colorado chains expanding to the Springs in recent years.

“Colorado Springs is such a growing, wonderful market,” said Kwame Spearman, CEO and co-owner of Tattered Cover, Colorado’s largest independent bookstore. “I’m a proud Denver guy, but I’ve got to be honest with you, Colorado Springs might be the most exciting market in the entire state. I think if you look at the core of what has always kept Colorado Springs a wonderfully vibrant community, that’s still there — but you’re also seeing a lot of people who are moving into the Springs area, who are there because they’re involved in tech, because they love the environment around them. 

“They’re there because they love Colorado. I think you’re just seeing a dramatic surge of energy in Colorado Springs. From the outside looking in, that feels unparalleled in any part of the state. It’s kind of what you were feeling in Denver maybe 10 years ago, when you knew something was happening and you were seeing the very early stages of it. Colorado Springs feels exactly like that.”

Tattered Cover already has five locations in and around Denver, with a sixth planned this year for Westminster; Colorado Springs will be its seventh location. The Springs is quickly becoming a desirable location for not just Denver businesses, but companies from across the nation. 

“We’re seeing interest from all across the country in Downtown Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs in general,” said Susan Edmondson, president and CEO of the Downtown Partnership. “When you rank at the top of the charts for quality of life — and frankly we’ve also been noticed for how we’ve endured and rebounded from COVID — we as a city, and as a Downtown, are really on a roll. And that is getting noticed in a wide variety of industries and sectors.”

Tattered Cover’s approximately 8,000-square-foot space near the intersection of Tejon and Kiowa streets will feature a full bookstore, a kids’ zone, and coffee and wine. For Spearman, the new lease was a lucky find in an increasingly competitive commercial real estate market. 

“We’re not the only business that sees what is happening down there,” he said. “We were fortunate in that we were able to come to a lease agreement that reflects the realities of having an independent bookstore. Most of our lease is driven by a percentage-revenue deal.” 

In a percentage lease, the tenant generally pays a “base rent” as well as a percentage based on monthly sales volumes which, Spearman said, “allows us to eliminate the downside of our risk, while also giving the landlord the opportunity for tremendous upside. 

“One of the things we’ve been saying for the past nine months is that if communities want institutions like independent bookstores, you have to look at things differently than what standard commercial real estate looks like — and we’re really honored to have two landlords who understood that and wanted to bring that to Colorado Springs.”

Edmondson notes that the demand for commercial real estate goes hand in hand with the increased residential development in Downtown. 

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Tattered Cover will move into the retail space at 112 N. Tejon St.

“With thousands more people who will be living Downtown in the next few years, plus some of our new hotels going in, that is very attractive to businesses,” she said. “It is so important for a healthy Downtown to keep these storefront businesses going. They add so much energy and vitality to who we are — so it’s no surprise that we are attractive both to locals who are looking to open a business and expand, as well as really beloved brands from along the Front Range. I think it’s sort of the perfect way to grow as a downtown. When I see some of these well-loved places looking at Downtown Colorado Springs, that to me is a bit of validation. We are very proud that over 90 percent of our storefront businesses Downtown are locally owned and operated, and a healthy downtown needs a mix of places.”

Spearman says the new location, which he hopes to open in first quarter of 2022, will also add to the local job market.  

“We’re going to hire from within the community for the store, because it’s going to be a community store,” he said. “I would imagine there will be anywhere from 10 to 20 full-time staffers to set up that store with a lot of part-time and per diem employees as well.”

Tattered Cover aims to keep expanding across Colorado, he said.

“Colorado Springs is really going to become that next market outside of Denver where we can house talent,” Spearman said. “One of the awesome things that has come out of the pandemic: You can do so much more work remotely. The ability to have a base in Colorado Springs, we think, is going to help us access the incredible talent pool down there.”

Tattered Cover will also be joining a robust retail book scene in Colorado Springs, competing with Downtown mainstay Poor Richard’s Bookstore, Westside Stories in Old Colorado City, and Hooked on Books’ Bijou Street location. 

“This is a testament to our city as well,” Edmondson said. “We are ranked very high in our educational attainment in Colorado Springs, which I think speaks to a population that loves books and loves to read and be informed. To me it’s also encouraging to see that someone found that attractive as a market as well. 

“There’s a reason why we have existing bookstores Downtown and interest from another: because we have a highly educated population and folks who love books.”

News Reporter

Heidi Beedle is a former soldier, educator, activist, and animal welfare worker. She received a Bachelor’s in English from UCCS. She has worked as a freelance writer covering LGBTQ issues, nuclear disasters, cattle mutilations, and social movements.