Sue Lubeck, the founder of WestwordAward-winning Best of Denver Bookstore Books, died Thursday, July 8.
“The depth of our desperation to share this cannot be imagined,” the store posted on its Facebook page. “Yesterday evening, surrounded by her family, our founder Sue Lubeck reached the end of her long history.”
And it was a rich story.
In 1971, when the youngest of her three children, Rob, went to kindergarten, Sue decided to figure out what she wanted to do next with her life. Knowing that the Denver area was in need of a children’s bookstore, she decided to start this store in her basement. Soon his offerings began to take over the entire family home.
“She was definitely a trailblazer and an independent woman in the early 1970s,” says Rob. “For a woman to be an entrepreneur with no business background was quite revolutionary.”
Having their double house as a bookstore was a mixed bag for the kids, however. Rob remembers getting off the school bus and walking into his home, where customers were browsing the stacks – it wasn’t the ideal situation. But when visiting friends, there were always plenty of toys to play with and books to read.
Sue ran the store out of her home for years, until neighbors started complaining to the city about delivery trucks stopping outside her house. After zoning inspectors entered and closed the operation, she moved the Bookies to Sixth Avenue and Ogden Street. From there, she launched a bookmobile, which roamed the city providing customers with books, toys and games. In a few years, however, the store has exceeded its space.
Sue eventually moved the Bookies to a mall at 4315 East Mississippi Avenue, where it’s been for decades, inspiring kids with a huge selection of books, as well as a wild array of educational gadgets, toys, and games. society. She matched books and stuffed animals and found “out-of-the-box” ways to market her store, Rob recalls. If a customer came looking for a hard-to-find book, she would spend hours making calls around the world to find it.
“It was about employees and customers, at equal levels,” he says. “She has invested body and soul in bookmakers for fifty years and has created a unique shopping experience.”
Her children remember her as an incredible role model. While their father was the executor, she was the kindest parent – but that didn’t mean she hadn’t pushed her children.
“Her philosophy was that you can do whatever you want to do, and she taught that to myself and my two brothers as well,” Rob said. “She was very caring and pushed us in the right direction and pushed the education and the reader, but not in a very harsh way. “
Many of the current employees have worked in the store for decades, a testament to Sue’s commitment to treating her employees like family. Her friends, family and clients remember her as a blessing to Denver, a person who inspired children to love reading and who had a deep empathy for everyone in her community.
“She leaves behind a world that was richer for being there,” the store posted. “A world where countless children have learned to love reading. A world filled with more laughter and more joy than it would have without it.”
As Westword wrote of his store earlier this year: “The best bookstores don’t just cater to today’s bookworms, they breed new ones! Although we were able to shop here without buying anything for ourselves, we spent more than we would like to admit on books and educational toys for the children in our lifetimes. poetry teachers – are expert in recommendations, and the exceptional selection stacked to the ceiling is a pleasure to browse. “
The loss comes at an important time, with the store preparing to accelerate its 50th anniversary celebration and a series of special events, including the sale of part of Sue’s personal collection of antique books.
“She will be missed by so many people in this place, from her family to the bookies to the wider Denver community,” said Rob. “Everyone has so much admiration for her. She passed away last night, and it couldn’t have been more peaceful.”
The Bookies will celebrate their fiftieth birthday on Saturday August 15 and the family will host a public memorial service for Sue Lubeck in September. Watch the Bookmakers website and Facebook page for more information.
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