Story’s over for Red Mountain Books in Glenwood Springs Mall
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” David Wood smiles as he talks to a customer. The smile is genuine but a little forced.
These aren’t happy times for him.
“I want to tell you how much I’ve appreciated your business over the years,” Wood says.
Bob, the customer, shakes his hand and answers, “We’re going to miss you.”
Wood nods and smiles. There have been many tiny conversations like this over the past few days. Sometimes, Wood says, the emotion gets too touchy and tears emerge. “I try to keep (the conversion) light. It helps.”
There’s sadness in Red Mountain Books in the Glenwood Springs Mall. But Wood is always smiling, helping and doing what he loves.
“I’m all about customer service,” he says, then excuses himself to help another customer.
He talks to people, he spends time with them. He helps them with their book-buying needs.
“We needed a niche, and books are my niche. I know books. I’m not a salesperson,” the 43-year-old Denver native says. “I love books and I love people, that’s why I do this.”
A customer reaches across the counter and shakes Wood’s hand, saying “Good luck to you, we’ll miss you and your store.”
Wood offers yet another smile. Tears are close ” the weight of closing a business has taken its toll. It’s been tiring and stressful.
But those handshakes and words are as special and memorable as a Mark Twain metaphor.
Wood has been in the book business for 22 years, the last 10 as the owner of Red Mountain Books.
In a few weeks, the shelves will be bare, the store empty and Wood will flick off the light switch for the last time. Red Mountain Books will be no more ” the end.
It’s time for Wood to turn the page and start a new chapter in life.
David Wood always had a dream. A dream that you might say started with once upon a time …
Back in high school when classmates were dreaming of careers ” firefighter, police officer, lawyer, doctor, NFL wide receiver ” Wood dreamed of owning a bookstore.
“I knew back in high school that I wanted to work with books. I’ve always loved to read,” he says.
Books have always guided his life and brought him joy.
Growing up as one of 10 siblings ” five brothers and five sisters ” Wood’s mom, Jean, had her hands full. The best remedy she found was to fill the kids’ hands with books.
“We were a rowdy bunch, and our mom told us we had to read or do nothing,” Wood says with a smile.
As a youngster, he read books like “The Three Musketeers,” “Kidnapped” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Today he reads two or three books a week.
At 24, Wood appeared bound for a life as an aircraft mechanic, but when a corporate pilot at Jefferson County Airport told him that his dad was in the book business, the plot changed.
That’s when Wood’s book career took flight.
The villain in this story is a familiar one. There was even a movie starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks that captures the essence of what has happened to Wood and his bookstore.
In the 1998 movie “You’ve Got Mail,” a large corporate book store opens around the corner and eventually swallows up the small community, independently owned bookstore.
Of course, the movie had its typical happy Hollywood ending with the two characters falling in love and her going to work for the big company.
Wood jokes with a customer that he won’t be renting that movie anytime soon.
For him, it’s not the gigantic bookstores like Barnes and Noble or Borders that have forced him out. In Glenwood Springs, it’s simply all the other outlets and the online competition.
“There are so many places people can buy books, now,” he says.
Kmart, Wal-Mart, Target, even grocery stores offer books. Maybe not a huge selection but enough to draw people away. And then there’s Amazon.com. Wood says it’s gotten to a point where he just couldn’t compete with the online giant. People can order books online cheaper with zero shipping costs and many times get them delivered faster and right to their homes.
Amazon.com is the main culprit. Its website even touts having the earth’s largest selection of books.
Wood tried to compete but the numbers just weren’t adding up. It became obvious that this was a problem that even Harry Potter or Dr. Seuss couldn’t cure.
It’s all about the big versus small. Corporate versus independent, and this time, like so many other times in a number of industries, the big corporate machine overpowers the small independent business person.
Wood isn’t bitter, he’s just disappointed.
He quickly admits that when it comes to his future book shopping, he won’t step foot inside the corporate bookstores. He’ll stick with the small outlets, as long as they are still alive.
“There’s one thing about the independent bookstores that we tried to show people, and that is the money stays in the community,” he says.
Three other independent bookstores will remain in Glenwood ” Book Train, Through the Looking Glass, and Book Grove, a used bookstore, all in downtown.
Wood says that books aren’t to blame for his problems. He does admit that the younger generation might not be reading as much but for many adults, there’s still a love affair with books.
It’s that love affair with the written word that Wood has always cherished. It’s the same reason why he has such a strong connection with his loyal customers.
John Cottle, who has worked at Red Mountain for several months, says his boss knows virtually everyone who walks through the door.
“He can identify just about anyone by what their genre is,” Cottle says.
The 4,000-square-foot space Wood rents was a combination of books, cards and gifts. He said that the cards and gifts helped a lot over the past three years, but it’s always been a battle.
It’s a scary time for Wood. He says that he really is only focused on getting the store closed, then he can redirect his energy toward the future.
Wood has three kids, and he says two are readers, then he smiles.
The two readers are Britney, 21, and Chad, 19. Wood is certain that the third will soon be a reader, too.
About a year ago, Wood and his wife Beverly were given some surprising news. Beverly was pregnant.
“Never believe your doctor when he says you can’t have any more kids,” Wood says, laughing.
Three months ago Beverly gave birth to Jackson.
The closing of the bookstore is a simple and familiar story, but one without a happy ending. The villain won in this story. That’s why life is different from fiction. It’s the traditional story of David and Goliath, but this time, this David couldn’t fell the mighty, monstrous corporate book outlets.
But David Wood plans to turn the page and move on to the next chapter. Right now it’s a mystery, but Wood is confident that there’s a happy ending waiting for him and his family somewhere in future chapters.
As a book lover, he admits that he’s a bit of a dreamer.
This dream served him well for 22 years, and now it’s time to see what’s next.
For Wood, the unknown will be a challenge, because no one can read the future.
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Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon closed around 9 p.m. Thursday for a flash flood warning.