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Bookstore headed for the village

Matt Zalaznick
Verbatim Booksellers 8-29 MK/ Mk Edit
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Vail’s only real bookstore apparently is not in danger of closing, after all.

Verbatim Booksellers, now in Lionshead, is being bought by manager Robert Aikens, who says he plans to move the store to a smaller space in Vail Village.

“It’s a community and a cultural center,” says Aikens. “People come to a bookstore for information.”

Verbatim, opened by Suzy Bruce in 1983, used to operate at the Crossroads complex in Vail Village, in the spot now home to Alpine Bank. The store was bought by Allie Mayer in 1998.

Aikens says he is close to signing a deal to move the store, but is hesitant to announce the location because the contract has not been finalized. But, he says, Verbatim was clearly having trouble making ends meet across from the parking garage in Lionshead.

“The space we had was just too big for this type of business and the type of rents we have to pay,” Aikens says.

Mountain-top dinners

Aikens says he hopes to revive poetry readings and book-signings at the store. He also says he wants to bring back the mountain-top author’s dinners Verbatim sponsored at Eagle’s Nest building, at the top of Vail Mountain.

“We’ll have something a little bit smaller and, hopefully, do the same volume in a smaller space,” Aikens says.

Although the new store will be smaller, Aikens says he plans to keep a comparable inventory. Along with a wide variety of books, the store will continue to sell stationery, greeting cards and handicraft, along with a collection of jazz, blues, classical, folk and world music recordings, he says.

Aikens says Verbatim can order many books not in stock and have them at the store in a few days.

Aikens says he’d like to start a program where books can be sold and delivered to hotel guests. He says he’d also like to start a program where guests on their way to town can call ahead for a book.

“Verbatim is based on a concept deeper than ordinary, everyday retailing,” Aikens says. “We’re a little to the left of most people.”

Almost without

Truth is, Aikens says, Verbatim barely survived, nearly leaving Vail without a bookstore. Rents nearing $200 per square foot and the spread of large retailers, such as Borders and Barnes and Noble, threaten the survival of small bookstores in the mountains, Aikens says.

The nearest bookstore to Vail, still, is the Bookworm in Edwards.

And although Vail is suffering a “bit of a mid-life crisis,” Aikens says, he wants to be around for the town’s revival.

Aikens also says he’s looking for some volunteers to help the store when it moves to the village. There is a sign-up sheet at Verbatim for anyone willing to volunteer a few hours. Aikens says he’s seeking book-packers, shelf-movers, food-and-beverage servers, and, possibly, even a massage therapist.

Some locals, he adds, even have suggested holding a “moving parade.”

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.


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