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Beloved bookstore to celebrate 50 years this weekend, while also honoring late founder

The store is now up for sale in the hands of founder Sue Lubeck's three sons, with a hope to find a buyer that will continue the legacy of their mother.

DENVER — Stepping into the colorful and longtime bookstore The Bookies, a sense of community can be instantly felt. 

Employees greet many of their customers like old friends, and in some cases, they are.

For Molly Hultzapple, an employee of six years at the store, her mother started the family tradition of employment at the store, working there until she passed away. 

She remains grateful for the person who created the welcoming atmosphere in the first place.

“Sue just told us, ‘your mom is welcome here as long as she wants to be here’ because she knew how important it was for my mom to be here. So that was – that tells you the spirit of Sue and the legacy that she’s left," Hultzapple said. 

She's speaking of the store's founder, Sue Lubeck, who employees and customers say not only created a beloved bookstore but a place for everyone. 

Lubeck passed away last month, just as the store is gearing up to celebrate 50 years of operation.

Credit: The Bookies
A picture of Sue Lubeck reading to children.

A one of a kind store, with one of a kind start

Both employees and the store's website tell the story of how The Bookies got its start. 

Around 50 years ago, Lubeck felt there needed to be a place where children can find a book, which resulted in her filling her home's basement with children's books.

Eventually, after her home became filled with books, and a decade later, a store was opened, the collection expanded. Soon, it became a popular place for not only children but school teachers in the area. 

“As a teacher, this was an unbelievable resource for me," Lynne Forstot told 9News. 

Forstot has been a customer for around 40 years. 

“If you haven’t been here, you need to come in and see what it’s like – it’s not like any other bookstore," she said. “...It was really the support that you got ... but also for the kids, for the families."

Today, the bookstore has a rough estimate of around 100,000 titles, according to the website.

“It’s a true, magical place for all the people in Denver," Hultzapple said. 

Credit: Luis de Leon
An aisle of books inside The Bookies.

The future of the store

As colorful and community-filled as the store is, there is still a sense of loss. 

As mentioned above, Lubeck passed away last month, and a memorial has formed near the store entrance, with a memory book customers are welcome to fill out. 

“For Sue it’s always about people it’s never about the money the dollar signs," Hultzapple said.

She explained that the store is up for sale, but it's luckily in the hands of Lubeck's three sons. 

"While the family will continue The Bookies, they are actively welcoming any inquiries by possible buyers who will continue the traditions of the store and the vision that Sue originally had," the store's website reads. 

“She will be missed by not only all of the employees here but by all the millions of customers that come in here all the time," said Hultzapple.

In the meantime, the store will celebrate its 50th year of operation with a special event Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., including a 75% off sidewalk sale, prize giveaways, grab bag sales, and live entertainment. 

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