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Old Firehouse Books prioritizes NoCo pride

A+guest+in+the+store+browses+the+shelves+of+Old+Firehouse+Books+in+Old+Town+Fort+Collins+Sept.+15.
Collegian | Aria Paul
A guest browses the shelves of Old Firehouse Books in Old Town Fort Collins Sept. 15. The store sells both new and used books and strives to maintain a diverse selection of books.

In the heart of Old Town sits Northern Colorado’s largest independent bookseller, Old Firehouse Books, a Fort Collins staple for over 40 years. 

“I love Old Firehouse Books,” said Mikayla Masanets, an Old Firehouse Books customer. “They always put on amazing events, and I have bought some of my all-time favorite books from their recommendations.”

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Old Firehouse started as the Book Rack of Fort Collins back in 1980 by Bill Hawk. The store was just a paperback store at the time, built on trading books and run by Bill, wife Maggie and daughter Marta

This beloved paperback store grew for over 20 years and was sold to current owners Susie Wilmer and Dick Sommerfeld, who also owned the Book Rack locations in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Greeley, Colorado. 

In 2009, the store moved into its current location on Walnut Street. The name of the business was changed to Old Firehouse Books to pay homage to the historic firehouse the bookstore moved into. 

With this new space, they also began author signings, book club meetings and other community events along with selling and trading books. 

Nowadays, Old Firehouse is much bigger than the mom-and-pop shop it started as, but no matter where the store has moved or how large it gets, they have never lost sight of Bill Hawk’s goal to “have lots of fun while selling books in Northern Colorado.”

Old Firehouse Books stands out from other independent booksellers not only because of the history and longevity of the store but also its exceptional business practices. They take pride in their books, events and involvement in the Fort Collins community. 

“Old Firehouse Books wouldn’t be where it is without the amazing community that supports it both inside and outside of Fort Collins,” said Andrea Day, event coordinator for Firehouse Books. “Our biggest goal is to give our community an experience that makes them happy.”

Old Firehouse Books strives to maintain a large and diverse selection of both new and used books, cards, tees, bookmarks and bookish gifts. From bestsellers to hidden gems across all genres, there’s something for every reader. Customers can now browse their expansive collection online and special order something if it’s not already in store. 

“I come here solely for the cards (for) any birthday or holiday because I know they’re always going to be adorable here,” said Luke Unsworth, an Old Firehouse Books frequent customer. “Firehouse is just so cute. I love the vibes and the ambiance. I think they’re so awesome.”

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The staff is knowledgeable about a variety of types of literature, and they have genuine enthusiasm for helping even the biggest bookworms find their perfect title. Their expert guidance and welcoming atmosphere set the standard for independent bookselling in Northern Colorado. 

Beyond the shelves, Old Firehouse is known for its ongoing community engagement. They interact with readers in the community through book clubs, author events, low sensory time, book trading and literacy programs. 

Registered book clubs receive 20% off their club books, and there are multiple groups already established for every kind of reader. Anyone can join the current book clubs: Informed Citizens Book Club, Traps and Trenchcoats Mystery Book Club,  F*@#’d Up Book Club or Queer & Loathing Book Club. 

Author events are held regularly, providing a platform for both local and internationally acclaimed authors to connect with their readers. Any author can request to hold an event at Old Firehouse Books to help get their work into readers’ hands, and these events foster a sense of community connectedness and literary curiosity.

On Oct. 25, Old Firehouse will host bestselling romance author Ana Huang at the Fort Collins Marriott to celebrate her newest book “King of Greed” with a book intro and signing. Free tickets to this event are sold out, but those interested can join a waitlist on Old Firehouse’s events webpage.

Firehouse regularly hosts Low Sensory Hour 9-10 a.m. every other Wednesday and Saturday with dimmed lights, no music and low speaking voices only. The store is also open for trade 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends.

“Independent bookstores are nothing without their readers and customers, so we value them above everything else,” Day said. “We can only hope that we will continue to provide our amazing community with new books, adventures and experiences for a long time to come.” 

Old Firehouse Books is not a donation center and does not accept books in poor condition, but they encourage customers to recycle or trade in their old books for in-store credit — usually about 20% of the cost of the books sold. 

It’s no mystery why Old Firehouse Books is Northern Colorado’s largest independent bookseller. The personal touch they put on all of their services sets them apart from larger corporate stores. They embody entrepreneurship, community engagement and genuine care for their customers.

Old Firehouse Books is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at 232 Walnut St. Visit Firehouse Books on their website, or see their social media for special recommendations, promotions and content here.

Reach Sophia Masia at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @sophie_masia.

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