Strategy emerges in effort to preserve Explore Booksellers in Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Strategy emerges in effort to preserve Explore Booksellers in Aspen

The group trying to preserve Explore Booksellers in Aspen provided a glimpse into its strategy Friday.

Former Aspen Mayor Bill Stirling said the Save Explore Committee is focused on a crowd-funding effort solely to support the operations of a possible new owner or operator. The group "has no ambition or capacity to raise enough money to be even part of a buyer group," Stirling said.

Stirling said he is in communication with the organizer of an independent effort to put together a group to buy Explore, but the Save Explore Committee isn't part of that effort. He didn't identify the potential buyer.

The committee is working "hand in glove" with the buyer group to raise money to provide assistance for operations. It's Stirling's hope that the assistance gives the potential buyers confidence to complete the purchase and preserve the bookstore.

The committee is reaching out to residents throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and Aspen visitors with its crowd-funding effort. They are seeking financial pledges and donations of any size.

Nearly 300 people have provided their names and contact information for the fundraising effort by the Save Explore Committee, according to Stirling. Solicitation of contributions will start Monday. Anyone who isn't on the list but wants to be added can provide his or her information at saveexplore@gmail.com.

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Stirling was guarded with comments about the Save Explore Committee's efforts earlier this month because he said he didn't want to create false expectations. However, he released more information Friday because he wanted to avoid confusion that the committee was trying to raise funds for a purchase of the bookstore property and inventory. It aims to help with operations.

Explore was started by Katherine Thalberg at a site on East Hopkins Avenue in 1975. Thalberg moved it to the former Frost house on Main Street in 1978. The independent bookstore is a vital part of Aspen's character for many people.

Thalberg died in 2006, and her estate sold the bookstore to Sam and Cheryl Wyly for $4.4 million the following year. The Wyly family listed the bookstore for sale at $6.5 million earlier this summer.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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