Books have always been my greatest form of entertainment, even as a child.
Rather than get ecstatic over the possibility of getting the newest Barbie or a prized Cabbage Patch doll for my birthday or Christmas, I always looked forward to unwrapping a new book to add to my personal collection.
Just holding a book in my hand, I could only imagine the adventure I would be going on once I cracked open the cover. The smell of the combination of ink and paper was a joy unlike any other.
In my usual fashion, I would immediately flip to the last page and eagerly read it. While some people say reading the last page of a book first spoils the entire story, for me it served as a the end point to a map created by the author.
My deep love of books hasn’t waned throughout the years. I even have a tattoo of a stack of books on my right ankle to commemorate my love for the written word.
So, when I heard that a new bookstore had opened in downtown Greeley, I naturally had to go check it out.
As an avid book lover, I can say I was not disappointed in what I found.
Tucked in a corner spot at 918 8th St., next to Roasty’s Bar and Grill, The Midnight Oil bookstore offers visitors a comfortable and welcoming environment.
Self-proclaimed “big readers” and family members Manuel Tapia and Pablo Guzman, own the store.
“A lot of how this got started is by coincidence,” Tapia explained. “Last year I mentioned to my wife, imagine a bookstore where you could have a lounge area, coffee, wine and spirits. That didn’t go anywhere because we were both working full time.”
At the beginning of 2021, Tapia’s nephew, Pablo Guzman, who also owns Feeders Unlimited, a reptile store in Greeley, came to his uncle with the idea of opening a coffee shop with late hours and drinks.
“I thought that is a sign,” Tapia said. “So all of this year, we really put our nose to the grindstone and put it together — with the help of the community.”
Community members donated a majority of the books featured in the store.
“At first, we were doing thrift shopping and garage selling, and we were afraid we weren’t going to have enough to line the walls even,” Tapia said.
At one point, Tapia and Guzman had so many donations, they were afraid they weren’t going to be able to stock every book on a shelf.
“We were overwhelmed. At one point, I was wondering what I got myself into,” Tapia said, laughing. “But it was a blessing. The community really backed us.”
In addition to rows of shelves lined with a variety of books, customers are surrounded with unique décor such as a grandfather clock, soft chairs, high-back chairs and an old-school diner booth.
A children’s area toward the back of the store features a comfortable space for kids to explore the books and begin to foster a love of reading.
A vintage-looking ice box filled with a variety of Coke products keeps eager readers hydrated, and customers are more than welcome to bring in food or snacks. Tapia and Guzman are working on bringing in coffee machines to expand the store’s beverage offerings.
With Weld and Larimer counties home to authors such as Todd Mitchell, Manda Jones, Drew White and Ron Worley, Tapia and Guzman are working to connect with local authors to feature their books in the store.
“If we can help out up-and-coming authors, especially those local to the area, that would be beneficial to both parties,” Guzman said. “We can help them, and they can help us.”
The store offers subscription services that allow customers to take advantage of the selection of books in the store. A monthly fee of $3, $6 or $9 allows participating customers to pick up and exchange books.
Tapia and Guzman have been working with local businesses in downtown Greeley to partner up and bring different book-themed events to the community.
“We are in talks with a couple of breweries to do pop-up book stands and books-and-beer events,” Tapia said.
The store and The Kress Cinema and Lounge, 817 8th Ave., have collaborated on a unique Book to Movie event.
For October, the two businesses featured a combination of “The Exorcist” book along with a screening of the movie. Participants paid $24.99 to receive a copy of the book and admission to a special screening of the movie.
The event was such a hit, it sold out.
The bookstore and movie theater are bringing the event back for November and will feature “Alice in Wonderland.”
Again, the cost to participate in the event is $24.99 and includes a copy of the book and admission to the movie starring Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton.
Despite being open less than a month, the owners have big plans in the works for the bookstore.
“It’s not the biggest location, but we are hoping, not even hoping, we know we will be moving into a larger location,” Tapia said. “We outgrew this place the first two weeks.”
The store is continuing to accept donations of books. People can drop off their donations during operating hours 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.
For more information on The Midnight Oil bookstore, go to www.booksatmidnight.com.
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