New CEO starts at independent Colorado bookstore Tattered Cover

New CEO Brad Dempsey officially took the reins of independent bookstore Tattered Cover on Wednesday, taking over the iconic 52-year-old Colorado business at a difficult time in the bookselling industry.

The Colorado native is a lawyer and past political hopeful who had spent the past two months working as an outside adviser for the company.

In spite of “pretty substantial financial obstacles” that the business currently faces, Dempsey pointed to the Tattered Cover’s “incredible intrinsic value” to Colorado history that gives it an advantage. Right now, his primary goal is to grow sales and build the store’s inventory – “to sell more of what sells.”

Looking forward, Dempsey is prepared to move the stores into a rehabilitation period, during which he aims to make them “more attractive” destinations to bring dates or out-of-town visitors.

And he’s hopeful about the future of brick-and-mortar bookstore market.

“There’s still a very viable business model for the independent bookstore,” Dempsey said. “There’s still margin and ROI, for all the people who are into that – which, you know, investors are.”

But he called his assignment at Tattered Cover “short-term.”

The bookstore’s original location was at Cherry Creek North on Second Avenue. The Tattered Cover has seven stores in and around the metro area and Colorado Springs listed on its website.

The service offered by the stores’ staff makes Tattered Cover an institution, with 787 years of collective bookselling experience, Dempsey said.

Dempsey will succeed Kwame Spearman, the previous CEO who’s vying for an at-large seat on Denver’s school board in the November election after a failed run for Denver mayor. Spearman stepped down from his position in April.

Moving forward, “he’s no longer part of the operations or the management team,” said Dempsey, who identifies Spearman as an investor in the company. “That’s the role he will have for the time being.”

Tattered Cover and its former owner Joyce Meskis often stood at the center of First Amendment issues, with Meskis – who died late last year – pushing for free speech over the course of her life and winning two Colorado Supreme Court cases in the process.

Dempsey said he’s “here for the mission” of defending free speech, and he called the bookstore chain “one of the most important companies in the market to support First Amendment and protect First Amendment rights.”

His new leadership role adds another position to his resume, which includes decades in the legal field and an unsuccessful bid for a U.S. House seat to represent Colorado’s 7th Congressional District as a Republican. He referred to the latter stint as “flirting with politics.”

Dempsey also founded Brad Dempsey Law LLC at the beginning of the year, focusing on the practice areas of corporate restructuring and bankruptcy, commercial and financial litigation, collection, loan enforcement and foreclosure. He described it as a “very successful” venture.

But at this point in his career, “it’s just not as satisfying sometimes to represent out-of-state hedge funds and different groups that are really not as committed to the community that you live in,” he said.

This opportunity at Tattered Cover instead allows him to apply leadership and business law components to the company. “It is a bit of a change, but it’s really giving me a chance to impact Colorado,” Dempsey added.

This isn’t technically his first foray into the publishing industry – he’s listed as a co-author of “Injunctive Relief: Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions.”

He said writing is important in his family, with his mom previously working as a first-grade teacher, his grandmother as a civics teacher and his dad as a historian.

The bookstore chain serves as a source of significant personal memories for Dempsey as the first place he ever bought a book, a date spot during his youth and a go-to destination for his family to attend events. Dempsey is a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder, and resides in Arvada.

“It’s exciting because it’s a company that I have grown up with, and am deeply passionate about,” Dempsey said. “Tattered Cover’s my home field bookstore.”

Updated 5:05 p.m. Wednesday: The location and number of the Tattered Cover’s seven stores was clarified.

Source: Read Full Article