Old Firehouse Books is exactly what the name implies. With the fireman’s pole next door in Happy Lucky’s Teahouse and the bookshelves up against brick walls, the hallowed out interior of this old firehouse contains the top bookstore in the Fort Collins area, according to CSU students. Started in 1980 by Bill Hawk, the historic bookstore is now owned by Susie Wilmer who, according to staff, devotes her time to the place that she loves.
Snuggled in with the rest of eclectic Old Town, the employees of Old Firehouse Books adore what they do. Rebecca Robinson, the weekend manager at the bookstore loves her job. Being a CSU student herself and majoring in journalism and technical communications, Robinson was pleasantly surprised to learn about how much the students appreciate what she does. The bookstore gets a lot of its business from students, even though the store doesn’t sell textbooks.
“I don’t think the owners would ever go corporate,” Robinson said.
Much of what Old Firehouse Books prides itself on is its independent business. This can be seen through Kobo, a unique e-reader that supports independent bookstores. Most independent bookstores wouldn’t be known for their e-books because most of their revenue comes from the physical books, but Old Firehouse Books have taken on the prospect of selling e-readers. Not only does the bookstore get profit off of every e-reader they sell, but also when an e-book is bought through Kobo, Old Firehouse Books gets a small cut. Although other e-readers may be advertised more, Kobo is uniquely tuned to independent bookstores like Old Firehouse Books.
The economy hasn’t impacted Old Firehouse Books as much as others. According to Robinson, they’re “staying afloat,” but much of their income derives from students picking them over other corporate bookstores.
“Buy independent; that’s my parting statement,” Robinson said with a laugh.
College Avenue reporter Kelsey Shroyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org