The Read Queen was born out of a love of books, coffee, friendship and the spirit entrepreneurship to create a local, independent business in a thriving community.

When Deirdre discovered that the long-established bookstore, The Book Cellar in Louisville, CO was closing its doors, she quickly enlisted the help of her friend, Barbra, to mobilize and figure out where this collection of books could live on. They found a fantastic location in the Lumberyards shopping center in Old Town Lafayette, CO and reached out to the very receptive landlords, the city and Lafayette Urban Renewal Authority – without their combined assistance, we never would have been able to bring this dream to life.

Barbra and Deirdre happy to finally open up the store after months of hard work.

From there began a long journey of overhauling a turn of the century (1900, not 2000) building – originally the town’s hardware store and attached lumberyards – which came with all kinds of unexpected surprises.

Future home of The Read Queen Bookstore & Cafe circa 1940, courtesy The Boulder Carnegie Library

Once interior walls were removed, significant structural support was needed which is why you can see the exposed moment frame, a steel girder that spans the ceiling at front of the store and runs down both walls. Under the floor it’s embedded in concrete footers. The back room could have been pushed over in a strong wind, but with our great contracting team, we might see this old building live on for another 100 years or more.

Surprises around every corner…

You never know what you might find when you remodel such an old building. Here’s a sample of what we found in the rafters and under the floorboards:

Do you have Prince Albert in a can? Why yes we do!
July 5th fell on a Friday in 1901, 1907, 1912, 1918, 1929, 1935, and 1940 – based on the price, it’s likely one of those years. It was “Excellent” regardless.

But the oddest thing of all – more so than the Oddfellows poster, was what has become the unofficial mascot of the Read Queen…Stinky!

Stinky, we hardly knew ye…but we sure smelt ye!

Stinky, best we can tell (mainly from the smell), was a petrified skunk that must have been deceased for at least 20 or more years before being uncovered. Every time we’d walk into the building we’d get this whiff of skunk smell. Since the legalization of marijuana, that smell has become more and more common in our state, and because the building had been a youth counseling center prior to our arrival, we thought maybe there was something vegetative hiding in the rafters. Nope…not weed, but actual skunk! Even being that old, it still reeked.

When the workers finally uncovered Stinky from beneath the flooring right at the rear doorway the smell was apparently over-powering! Our contractor, who bravely carried Stinky to the dumpster (no time for a proper burial) said that from just having it briefly touch the gloves he was wearing which he then threw in the back of his car, caused the smell to linger for over a week!

So Stinky’s memory lives on and we are working on a proper way to memorialize him. Anyone up for a Stinky poster or plush toy? Unscented, we promise!

What’s in a name?

“So, how do you pronounce ‘Read Queen’ – is it ‘Red‘ Queen or ‘Reed‘ Queen?”

Well, just as the Queen herself says:

“I love to read, the Queen she said, and in so doing I am well read.”

So the pronunciation is ‘red’ as a book must be ‘read’ in order to be a used book. It’s also an homage to The Red Queen of Lewis Carroll’s classic Through the Looking-Glass (the follow up to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), two of our favorite books.

In a quote all too fitting to our current times, Carroll’s Red Queen says “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!

The Read Queen Bookstore & Cafe
129 N. Harrison Ave, Lafayette, CO 80026