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A Local Love Affair with Literature

Welcome to a tale of passion, pages, and local love – this is the story of The Read Queen, a local independent bookstore that’s far more than just a place to pick up your next read.

Nestled in the heart of Old Town Lafayette, CO, The Read Queen Bookstore & Cafe was born from the union of books, coffee, friendship, and the exhilarating spirit of entrepreneurship. It’s a story that began with the closing of a beloved bookstore in Louisville that led to the opening of another in Old Town. Owners Deirdre and Barb, both California-natives, took their unique paths to settle in Boulder County. Barb ran a business on The Hill in Boulder, and Deirdre came from a science background but found her home in Louisville. They both had a passion for reading and books, which sparked the idea to start a bookstore of their own.

“So many people say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I owned a bookstore and I could read and talk about books all day?’” said Deirdre.

The owners of the closing Louisville bookstore were kind enough to pass on their stock to Barb and Deirdre to begin their adventure. The building that The Read Queen calls home is steeped in history, having served as a hardware store in its past life. Refurbishing such a space was no small task. It required careful preservation of historic elements like the original floors and façade, while updating the structure to safely welcome a new generation of readers. This included reinforcing walls with a modern “moment frame,” a necessity discovered during renovation, which has become a visible feature in the store. With a location that had the street appeal of old trees and the charm of Old Town, not to mention much-needed parking, it felt right, like the perfect setting for a new chapter.

April 2019 marked the beginning of their journey, and despite the unforeseen challenges presented by COVID-19, The Read Queen opened its doors in May 2020. “We just told ourselves that we have to unlock the doors and turn on the open sign, and people came.”

The community of Lafayette, starved for connection during a global pandemic, welcomed this new addition with open arms. With covered porches and spaces for kids to explore and read, it became an emblem of community resilience and support.

“We would occasionally take pictures because it was a community outpouring of support,” said Deirdre. “We were so excited to see kids reading and this hyperlocal community coming together.”

Barb and Deirdre have since fostered a “third place” for their customers – not home, not work, but a comforting neutral space for communal gathering, discussion, and, of course, reading. It’s a place where the monthly book club thrives, inviting a diverse group of readers to connect over literature without the pressure of attending every meeting. Their book club meets on the 4th Friday of every month at 6 PM in The Read Queen Lounge, the building behind the main bookstore.

“I read an article, and it put our thoughts about our bookstore perfectly into words we had been looking for. It described a bookstore as the ‘third place,’” said Barb. “It just becomes a place that is like your third home. It is a warm and comforting place where you can just listen to what’s going on in the bookstore, and there are so many conversations about life and unique experiences.”

That community hangout atmosphere they have created has been a motivator to bring more to their indoor space with more indoor seating, expanding indoor opportunities, and renting additional space behind their main building, which acts as a reading room.

Collaboration is the heartbeat of The Read Queen. From teaming up with neighboring businesses like Romero’s K9 Club and Tap House, Little Herbal Apothecary, and East Simpson’s Coffee House to hosting field trips for underrepresented student groups from nearby schools, it’s a hub that extends beyond its four walls.

“The students with special interests or special needs get to come into the store and find books that represent them specifically, and that has been something that has been really meaningful for us to participate in,” said Deirdre.

Teachers or school faculty who want to collaborate with them for field trips or reading opportunities can reach out to Deirdre and Barb by emailing them at b@thereadqueen.com and d@thereadqueen.com.

The Read Queen is not just a store; it’s a community pillar, a warm space filled with unique people living their unique lives that come together with a shared passion for reading. You can stay up to date on the latest chapters in their journey, from exciting events to new book additions and book club choices, by following The Read Queen on socials (Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok), visiting their website, and subscribing to their newsletter. An upcoming event to get excited about is Independent Bookstore Day, which occurs every year in April and will involve some type of cozy celebration at the bookstore.

The next time you’re in Lafayette, let curiosity lead you to 129 N Harrison Ave – you might just fall in love with The Read Queen Bookstore & Cafe, just as Deirdre and Barb did.

 

 

Upcoming Events

Sweeney Todd

March 1 @ 7:30 pm - March 10 @ 7:30 pm