Ed Johns checks out the book selection at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore in Steamboat Springs on Thursday afternoon.  The bookstore will be moving to a new location on Ninth Street in March.

Photo by Brian Ray

Ed Johns checks out the book selection at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore in Steamboat Springs on Thursday afternoon. The bookstore will be moving to a new location on Ninth Street in March.

Still Off the Beaten Path

Bookstore moving to Ninth Street

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The Fair Exchange building at Ninth Street and Lincoln Avenue in Steamboat Springs will be the new location of the Off the Beaten Path Bookstore when it moves from its current location on Seventh Street.

— Off the Beaten Path Bookstore will continue to avoid Steamboat's main drag when it moves to a new home on Ninth Street in March.

Off the Beaten Path founders Dick and Leslie Ryan sold their Seventh Street building to Gene Sagouspe of JP Property, LLC, for $2.1 million in November 2007. However, the future of the business itself has been in doubt for several months as the Ryans unsuccessfully sought a buyer for the bookstore.

Now, the Ryans have done something they didn't intend on last November. They have announced not only the pending sale of the business to a Pennsylvania couple, but also their pending purchase of the former Fair Exchange building on Ninth Street to house the bookstore.

The Ryans will lease the Fair Exchange space behind Fuzziwig's Candy Factory, with an option to purchase, to Ron and Sue Krall. The Kralls divide their time between Steamboat Springs and Chadds Ford, Pa., Dick Ryan said. They plan to relocate permanently to Steamboat this summer. Chadds Ford is between Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del.

"We had no intention of purchasing a commercial property," Ryan said. "I would only buy it if it was going to assist in keeping the bookstore" viable.

Ryan said that previously unbeknownst to him, the Kralls are longtime customers of Off the Beaten Path.

"They approached us at Literary Sojourn last fall," Ryan said.

Many prospective buyers have approached the Ryans about buying the business, he said, but when they did their diligence and compared the balance sheet to the rent required by the selling price of the Seventh Street building, they couldn't see a way to make it work.

The Kralls were the first potential buyers who suggested moving the business to a new location, allowing lower real estate costs.

"This store is an institution," Ron Krall said. "We've felt that way about it for many years. We hope it will continue to be a community gathering place."

The Kralls do not have a background in retail, but hope to retain most of the store's core staff when they open at the new location in March.

Krall is a neurologist who, as a clinical pharmacologist, has worked as the chief medical officer for GlaxoSmithKline, a large company that develops vaccines and medicines to treat diseases.

Sue Krall is a homemaker, her husband said, who has a degree in English Literature from Bryn Mawr College and had a career in nursing.

The Kralls have owned a home in Steamboat for more than four years.

'Sea change'

It's no secret that independent bookstores have struggled to survive in an era when large chains dictate to book publishers, and Internet sellers apply increasing pressure on profit margins.

Author and independent bookstore owner Betsy Burton of The King's English in Salt Lake City gave a talk on the fate of independent stores at Off the Beaten Path in May 2005. She told her audience that mass merchandising by the chains disguises the fact that they have driven up the price of books, made it more difficult for publishers to sell their press run at retail and diminished opportunities for new authors to get published.

But she also offered hope.

"Two to three years ago, I think we saw a sea change in our community. All but two or three of the independent bookstores had closed. People started to realize they were losing their community to anonymous businesses, and they started to care. I think we've seen a tipping point in my city," Burton said.

Krall said he and his wife want to emphasize one of their perceived strengths of the business.

"We've always been impressed by the knowledgeable staff at Off the Beaten Path and the fact that they can give you good advice about book selections," he said. "We really want to build on that."

Off the Beaten Path always has been a hybrid, offering food and beverages from its own kitchen. Krall said the new bookstore, although it would offer fewer square feet, would continue to offer seating, coffee, light lunches and perhaps soups.

Kevin Bennett, who is selling the new Ninth Street location to the Ryans, said the building was built in 1929 and used as an automotive shop. As a former retailer himself, Bennett thinks the new location will be advantageous for Off the Beaten Path, partly because customers won't have to climb stairs to enter the building.

Amy Garris of Old West Management represents Sagouspe, who is a multi-generation almond farmer from California. She said he intends to open a business in the Seventh Street Building.

Ryan said it is likely Off the Beaten Path will go dark for a short time in late February before reopening in March.

Comments

sparkle 6 years, 2 months ago

Two book stores will be great. They will compliment each other and will do better because of it. Competition makes for better businesses, and how wonderful that they are both independent! Can't believe that people are taking sides--how immature.

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useyourvoice 6 years, 2 months ago

I was glad to see OTBP leaving. The employees couldn't be less helpful, perched behind the desk as if it's an honor. I converted to Epilogue last year and have never looked back. The owner even opened the store for me early once before Christmas, I was very impressed. And, she stopped and read a book to my daughter. Now that is what an indy bookstore is all about, personal service.

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ijustlookhi 6 years, 2 months ago

ya Epilogue is really the only true local bookstore now...OTBP is a shell of its old self and now owned by outside investors...dig that...

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shplcl 6 years, 2 months ago

Agree that the other indy is good, but there is room for two bookstores in town, especially two that are so different. You may not have heard that Epilogue is moving across the street from the current off the beaten path, so they won't be a block away for long. There isn't much affordable real estate downtown, and reading the article, it seems that the store was forced to move so probably not much choice for keeping the store going. Let's give the new owners a break here!

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Gadfly 6 years, 2 months ago

Glad to see that we'll still have OTBP and Epilogue. If we all buy a book now and then, maybe we can stave off Borders and Waldenbooks for a while longer.

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justathought 6 years, 2 months ago

ijustlookhi, [The Kralls divide their time between Steamboat Springs and Chadds Ford, Pa., Dick Ryan said. They plan to relocate permanently to Steamboat this summer. The Kralls have owned a home in Steamboat for more than four years.] They're not exactly just outside investors, you really know how to make someone feel welcome don't you? At least they are investing in a "local" business, as an "insider" what have you contributed to stmbt lately. I hope epilogue realizes what decent, friendly, caring "local" customers they have in you and knowitall. GOOD LUCK Kralls, not everyone in the boat (or routt) have a "no outsiders welcome" attitude.

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6990res 6 years, 2 months ago

I agree that the service at OTBP was never impressive, lunch counter even less impressive. It's also difficult to want to shop at OTBP because I think I have maybe ONCE found the book I set out to buy. And when they don't stock the title and offer to purchase it for you, well I could do that too and probably faster, for less $$ and without having to make a second trip to the store and find a spot to PARK. hmmph...

Love the atmosphere of Epilogue too. And I am not taking sides, just expressing my opinion...

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AmebaTost 6 years, 2 months ago

We should have enough beetle kill trees to support multiple book stores!!

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snowysteamboat 6 years, 2 months ago

Any rumors on who the new tenant at the OTBP is going to be?

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rfj0401 6 years, 2 months ago

Maybe they should make OTBP into a Music Venue.

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Jay_K 6 years, 2 months ago

Full disclosure: I work at Off the Beaten Path.

Having said that, I've a great deal of contempt for those who make vicious, unfounded comments about my bookstore while hiding behind the anonymity of this forum. It would seem that those who so choose are doing so because they're deliberately concealing innate biases. Id est, they're either employees at Epilogue, or they're close friends with the employees.

What is especially irritating about this, is that there is little official enmity between OTBP and Epilogue. If someone needs a book right away that we don't carry, the first place we send them is Epilogue or the library. Vice versa, as far as I'm aware, as I've personally taken calls from the employees there asking if we have a particular title.

As far as the comment by "useyourvoice" goes, what exactly is this supposed to mean: "...perched behind the desk as if it's an honor"? Are you trying to say we consider it an honor to work at this store? If that's the case, then yes, I believe we all love our jobs here. But considering the rest of your comments, that clearly isn't what you meant, and your insinuation is ridiculous. We all appreciate the business our customers provide, and go out of our way to make their shopping here an enjoyable experience. As for reading an entire book to your daughter, I suppose a store with so few customers would actually have time to do that. At OTBP, we've had a number of events where books are read to kids. For instance, at a recent reading of "The Polar Express" we had 25 local children show up.

So, "ijustlookhi", what does "a shell of its old self" mean? In what way is OTBP inferior to the way it used to be? Specify, please. And as for your snarky "outside investors" comment, "justathought" put you firmly in your place. We live in a tourist destination, and depend on so-called "outsiders" for our livelihood. That is a fact, whether or not you want to believe it. Steamboat Springs is NOT a self-sustaining community. It is the money brought in, and families who move here, that keep the Boat afloat. The Kralls bought a house here... it is that which makes them locals. The only reason they haven't moved here full time yet, is Ron Krall has to wrap up his career in Pennsylvania. And posting a picture of the house they bought (for whatever ulterior motive you had in mind) is tasteless in the extreme, "snowysteamboat".

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Jay_K 6 years, 2 months ago

As for you, "6990res", how big do you suppose a bookstore would have to be, to stock at least one of every book in existence? We only have so much shelf space, after all, so we generally only carry books that people are buying. If you come in looking for an obscure title, or one that was printed years ago so that there's no longer a demand for it, we might not have it. And if we don't, we can (99% of the time) order it. If we have it in our warehouse (which most of the time we do) and you order it, it takes 3 to 5 business days to get it. Most of the time, it's even faster. For instance, if you order a book over the weekend or on Monday morning, we'll have it for you Wednesday afternoon. On top of that, there's no shipping charge for warehouse orders. Besides which, there's no need for you to even come into the store with only a hope of finding a book you want. If you call us ahead of time, we'll tell you and save you the trip. For most people, the logic inherent in that is self-evident. And on a side note, we carry more titles than Epilogue. It's far likelier you'll find a specific title here than there.

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snowysteamboat 6 years, 2 months ago

Relax Jay,

I had no ulterior motive and I don't find it at all tasteless. Rather it shows that hopefully they have the pockets deep enough to keep OTBP thriving.

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6990res 6 years, 2 months ago

Quite logically, a retail store would carry the things that people are buying... More titles, obscure titles, specific titles whatever... No offense to anyone, I just never find what I want, don't usually expect to and it's no big deal. Peace.

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Jay_K 6 years, 2 months ago

I've only a few moments to post something, so I'll be quick for now. Just a few minutes ago, I was quite properly chastised over assuming that the posters here in favor of Epilogue were employees there, or friends thereof. I have no evidence of that, so the assumption was unwarranted. I apologize.

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snowysteamboat 6 years, 2 months ago

Why was the link to the photo removed?

The photo is available on the Routt County web site and is clearly in the public domain.

Just like this photo of Brent's house.

http://pioneer.co.routt.co.us/asp/assessor/photo.asp?AccountNumber=R8167882&Seq=1

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kitkat00 6 years, 2 months ago

Why the animosity??? So now OTBP is around the corner instead of 2 blocks away from Epilogue. Big deal. If two bookstores and a library could survive this long then it doesn't seem like there is a real problem. Also, posting a picture of someone's home on the internet, regardless of intent, is a tasteless act.

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snowysteamboat 6 years, 2 months ago

Half of west end village was market rate and half was sold as affordable with deed restrictions but no price cap.

Brent's house is one of the marker rate houses.

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Carrie Requist 6 years, 2 months ago

Jay -

I am glad the OTBP has found a owner and a home, but I do agree that the attitude at OTBP can be off putting.

On many occasions, I have been treated rudely by the employee behind the counter. Enough times that I hesitate to go to OTBP and only do so rarely. Just feels like a club where I am not invited.

Retail stores do have personalities, presented by their employees and, hopefully, established by their owners. If I had encountered this rudeness just once, I would have written it off to a rude employee that has yet to be trained or dismissed. But the attitude has seemed prevalent at OTBP for the 8 years that I have lived in Steamboat, so I have to believe that this is the personality that the owners want and not one that works for me, so I take my business elsewhere.

And I as am not anonymous, you can check and see that I have no connection to Epilogue other than to be a customer sometimes.

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snowysteamboat 6 years, 2 months ago

The new tenant where the bookstore was is::

A. Barnes and Noble

B. Ghost Ranch Saloon

C. Salad Creations (Where Fresh is Fabulous)

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bloggyblog 6 years, 2 months ago

blog thinks the Ryan's should be applauded for going to such lengths to have OTBP remain open. the new location(fair exchange building) should work great. because of their diligence in finding a new owner and new location, we still have a choice as to where to go to buy books locally. thanks Dick and Leslie! p.s. a cowboy bar? like a working cowboy bar i.e "the hatch" or a plastic cowboy bar, 'i better finish my cognac, so i can drive out to my ranchette and see if the ranch hands are done washing the hummer'.

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Token 6 years, 2 months ago

as i hear it, a dancin' cowboy bar...bloggy is funny...

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useyourvoice 6 years, 2 months ago

The rabid comment by Jay illustrates exactly the problem with OTBP - the employees (although like someone else mentioned, I rarely find the books that I set out to purchase either).

Regarding her comment "As for reading an entire book to your daughter, I suppose a store with so few customers would actually have time to do that" let me remind you since your anger seems to have impaired your comprehension: when the owner opens a bookstore early for you, it makes sense that there would not be other customers in the store yet.

I don't work at the bookstore, I don't even know the lady that owns it, although I do recognize her now that I shop there quite often. No need to get so upset about people not liking your place of employment, remember, it's just a job and someday you will look back and laugh at how important you thought this was.

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