Moffat County Locals: Grow a bookstore and grow the community
Since Liane Davis-Kling purchased Downtown Books in 2015, it has been a learning curve of learning the book selling business, but it hasn’t been a journey she’s been on alone.
When the previous owner, Terry Carwile announced his plan to close down the bookstore in December of 2014, Davis-Kling made an offer on the bookstore just a few days later.
Downtown Books was the brainchild of Carwile’s late wife, Carol Valera Jacobson, who died in a rafting accident in 2009. After his wife’s death Carwile signed the business over to Jacobson’s junior business partner, who sold it to another buyer.
In 2010, the then-buyer came to Carwile to let him know the store was going to close, but after talking to Jacobson’s sons Carwile knew he couldn’t let the store close. So he came up with the funds to purchase the bookstore because he didn’t want to see his late wife’s hard work disappear from the community.
After four years, Carwile was recently newlywed and ready to continue moving on in his life so he announced the bookstore would be closing — unless a prospective buyer was ready to step in and take over the shop.
That’s when Davis-Kling, a recently retired teacher from Moffat County High School, decided to put an offer in and start to learn the book selling business.
“I had never done anything like this before,” Davis-Kling said, adding that running a small business was all new to her.
As a retired teacher, Davis-Kling loved reading and loved books, but to take over running Downtown Books she had to learn the tricks of the bookselling trade and how to make all the coffee drinks.
There were many local people who helped Davis-Kling learn the ropes of running the bookstore, including staff at the time of the sale, other downtown business owners, and volunteers who wanted to see the bookstore succeed.
Over the past seven years that Davis-Kling has been running Downtown Books, it has moved into a new location and started expanding in the new space. When Davis-Kling first bought the bookstore it was at capacity in the previous space.
When the lease was about to come up, Davis-Kling walked past the 525 Yampa Avenue building and saw a for sale sign in the window. Davis-Kling said she was somewhat familiar with the space because it formerly housed the Giving Tree retail store, so she called to look at it.
“I was looking for the space,” said Davis-Kling.
Since purchasing and moving into the new building, it has opened up possibilities for more books and retail space, more events, and expanded coffee offerings. The bookstore is host to poetry groups, knitting groups, Rotary Club meetings, game nights, Downtown Business Association meetings and a plethora of other gatherings.
The more Davis-Kling learns about the bookselling business, the more the community will see from Downtown Books. Over the summer, Davis-Kling took an inventory and management class online with a cohort of booksellers from across the country through the American Booksellers Association.
Belonging to the bookseller associations and networking with other bookstore owners has helped Davis-Kling streamline some things for the bookstore operations, including getting a new point-of-sale system and building on sideline product streams.
Davis-Kling works with both local artists and book buyer marketplaces to carry retail items and accessories including handmade pottery and recycled journals, cards, and literary coffee mugs.
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