Too big for your breeches can be a good thing, especially if you’re a book addict and own a bookstore.
That’s exactly what happened to Pablo Guzman and Manuel Tapia, owners of the Midnight Oil bookstore.
The bookstore originally opened in October 2021 in a small storefront at 918 8th St.
When I spoke with Guzman and Tapia about the story of the small store opening, they had a vision of “someday” moving into the larger space, but didn’t think that was going to happen anytime soon.
However, the community’s enthusiasm for having its own small commercial bookstore, coupled with the many donations Guzmán and Tapia received, quickly outgrew its space.
“The community has helped us tremendously,” Guzman said.
Fortunately, though, the couple were able to sign a new lease for the former Kings Clock space at 827 10th Street in downtown Greeley.
“It’s about four times the size of a small store,” Guzman said. “The first time I saw it was the king’s clock, with a partition in the middle, the ceiling was lowered, and there was room in the back. So it didn’t look that big.”
On July 15, Guzman and Tapia opened the doors of their new store to book lovers of all ages, introducing them to more lines of books, a comfortable reading area and other features.
“It’s incredible. The energy here is amazing. Pablo is amazing; he’s an amazing person,” said customer and small business owner Sarah Jean Wyscaver-Fiedler. “He did a fantastic job curating the book selection, creating a space for our community and providing a diverse selection of books. There’s something small for everyone.”
One of the main features one immediately notices as soon as one walks in is the huge book covering the stabilizing pillars of the building. Stacked from floor to high ceiling and held together with staples, the books add a stunning and unique visual to the store while concealing the versatile poles.
The project took Guzman painstaking 15 hours on each of the building’s four poles.
“About 1 foot per hour,” he said. “I did it in sections, and every day I told myself I’d finish it after everyone got home. It, uh, yeah, took a long time.”
Like its previous location, the store features shelves of different types, including Chicano, young adults, non-fiction, children’s books, fiction, science fiction, DIY and self-help, and more.
Guzmán and Tapia have also started to include a selection of new books, which are displayed on different tables, and there is a section dedicated to fans of the occult and spiritual.
“We’re still 90 percent second-hand, but we’ve started doing weekly special orders,” Guzman said. “We have these different tables and display stands for the new book and plan to add to it.”
At the back of the store is a huge vault with shelves and a small safe. Guzman plans to use the vault to fill it with a variety of different banned and challenged books, such as the Harry Potter series, Fahrenheit 451, The Favourite, Lord of the Flies and To Kill a Robin ”, as well as books banned in other countries.
“I’ve put aside some banned books so that when we’re ready, we can fill up the shelves,” Guzmán said.
People can find many different banned or questioned books in the store, and if they don’t have them, they’ll be happy to order them for you.
As with their first location, Guzman and Tapia plan to build a small café/coffee house within the store and open up the space for other organisations, community members and businesses for meetings, educational workshops and other events.
The larger location also provides space where Guzmán and Tapia can store donated books, as well as the possibility of including a basement area in the space in the future.
In addition to books, the duo wanted to incorporate local artwork throughout the store.
“There is a lot of space. Armando Silva was here a few days ago and we were discussing what we could do,” Guzmán said.
While they’re still settling in the new location, Guzman has been thinking about what the company’s next steps might be, including a possible second location.
“This idea has been in my head for a while. I don’t know where; I guess where is the need,” Guzmán said. “I think a lot of our strengths are being able to make connections.”
Store hours are 10am-8pm Friday-Wednesday and 10am-2pm Thursday.
For more information on how to donate, store catalogs, local authors, book clubs and more, visit www.booksatmidnight.com.