Bob Topp, the retiring owner of Hermitage Bookshop, found his happy ending when couple and new owners Renee and Ian Colle approached him to purchase one of Denver’s oldest independent bookstores.
The three hosted a spring soirée to commemorate their new chapter Wednesday evening, with long-time patrons and community members flocking to the Cherry Creek location at 290 Fillmore St. to sip wine, shake hands and buy discounted books.
Topp first established his store in 1973 after acquiring a used book shop, and the Colles plan to continue The Hermitage’s legacy – starting with a bronze plaque marking the Robert “Bob” Topp Courtyard in front of the store.
“I’m feeling extremely positive about the transition,” Topp said. “I see no reason this store can’t continue for another couple of decades easily.”
After reading a January article in The Denver Post about Topp’s search for a buyer, Ian texted his wife of over two decades, writing, “What do you think about buying a bookstore?”
Initially, she laughed about it, but Ian looked into it further.
“I just had this sense from God that I should just contact this guy,” he said, describing his and his spouse’s shared passion for books and independent bookstores.
After talking with Topp, they started to consider the decision “a no-brainer,” Ian added.
“This is a thriving business in the heart of Cherry Creek,” he said. “It would just be such a loss to the community to lose something like this place.”
Ian described a “totally magical” stroke of luck when it came to closing the deal, which was originally set for May 16. Paperwork delays had pushed the date out further, though, running up against the Colles’ impending trip to Europe and forcing both families to figure out an extension.
However, after a celebratory lunch, the group had a surprise waiting for them: The necessary documents had arrived in the mail, so the sale was made official on May 25 before the Colles boarded their flight.
They also highlighted their good fortune in finding the new manager, Sam Butler, “not knowing that he’d always wanted to run a bookstore,” Renee said. He’ll handle the day-to-day operations, Ian added.
The other three staffers are also sticking around. “It just couldn’t work out better,” Topp said.
Customers won’t have to miss Topp just yet. He’ll still remain a familiar face around the store, as he’s contractually available to help the Colles for about another year.
Topp plans to continue recording and podcasting children’s stories through his project, Read Me a Story, Ink – a resource of printable and audio stories offered to kids, parents and teachers. He reads to about 13 classes each year, and aims to expand that number to 16 this year.
He and his wife also own an organic farm on the Western Slope, so they’ll spend more time there.
“I’m not leaving under any bad circumstances whatsoever,” he said. “It’s just, seasons change, and it’s time to go.”
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