On June 20, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, The Read Queen opened its doors to the Lafayette, Colorado, community. Owners Barbra Huntting and Deirdre Appelhans told Bookselling This Week that their lifelong love of books drew them to bookselling.
“We were both also looking for a career change when we heard the local bookstore was shuttering its doors at the end of the week because the building had been sold,” Huntting said. “Deirdre had the last-minute idea to purchase the inventory and open a new location.”
Appelhans added that she’s always dreamed of opening a bookstore, while Huntting had toyed with opening a café years ago, which made them a good business match.
The Read Queen, named as an homage to The Red Queen of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, is currently located in the Lumberyards shopping center in Old Town Lafayette. The owners noted that they received a grant from the Lafayette Urban Renewal Authority, which allowed them to remodel the 100-year-old building. Read about the space’s renovations on the store’s website.
The owners also noted that while business has been slowly building over the three months the store has been open, the community has welcomed The Read Queen with great enthusiasm. Still, opening during a pandemic has its challenges.
“Hiring seems to be our biggest challenge,” said Huntting and Appelhans. “We need to hire enough trainable or qualified people to be barista-booksellers, but can only pay minimum wage and only offer part-time work because we need flexibility if someone gets sick (either from a cold or something more serious) to cover the vacant spots.”
Despite challenges, Huntting and Appelhans have gotten a handle on being open, as well as hosting events. “We’ve had outdoor book clubs, church groups, and some yoga classes on our porch, in collaboration with the yoga studio next door.” And while they haven’t had any author events yet, they hope to do so in the future.