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Former owner of Tattered Cover passes away

Joyce Meskis ran the beloved bookstore from 1974-2015.

DENVER — The former long-time owner of Tattered Cover has died.

Joyce Meskis, 80, passed away Thursday surrounded by her family, Tattered Cover tweeted Friday night.

Meskis bought the store in September 1974 when it was a 950-square foot space with two employees. In her 41 years of leading the store, Meskis built Tattered Cover into Colorado's largest independent bookstore and a beloved institution.

In a 2015 interview with 5280 magazine, Meskis told the story of how she came into ownership of the then three-year-old bookstore.

"By 1974, I was a single mom of two young daughters. I was reading the book pages of the Sunday Denver Post and saw that the Tattered Cover had come up for sale," Meskis said. "I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation, thought I could make it work, and made an offer." 

"There was a better offer on the table, and I didn’t hear back. My friend pushed me to inquire, and I found out the deal had fallen through. I borrowed the last few thousand dollars from my uncle, made another offer, and it was accepted."

Meskis sold controlling interest in the bookstore to Len Vlahos and Kristen Gilligan in 2015. Meskis remained with the company in a consulting role until she retired in 2017.

Tattered Cover said, "Joyce was a literary lioness that evolved our industry in a way that few others had done before her. She was also a friend and mentor to so many at Tattered Cover and around the globe."

Meskis is also remembered as a staunch defender of First Amendment rights.

The Tattered Cover said they are working on a way to honor Meskis' legacy and will keep people apprised of any new information.


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