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  • The Sudden Fiction bookstore in Castle Rock supports local authors.
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The Sudden Fiction bookstore is nestled in the basement of the Ecclesia Market in Castle Rock. Like a scene straight out of a book, Sudden Fiction’s decor includes vintage high-backed green velvet chairs, a matching couch, various era posters and — of course — walls and walls of books.

While America has seen the decline of large brick-and-mortar bookstores over the years, co-owner Gina McReynolds said she and partner Joe Durst knew their little independent bookstore would survive in a tough economy.

“Actually, it’s common to think that bookstores are becoming obsolete,” said McReynolds. “But over the past five years independent bookstores are seeing a surge.”

The duo opened the store in June 2019, in an office upstairs in the Ecclesia Market that occupied 105 square feet and contained eight bookshelves. They moved downstairs to their current space, which is about 1,000 square feet, in February 2020, shortly before the coronavirus pandemic would force businesses across the state to close their doors temporarily.

“We opened and were like `here we are! Then we were like `oh, now we’re closed,’” said McReynolds. “But the community has been so supportive. Our holiday season was great. Through COVID, everyone has been committed to shopping local.”

McReynolds moved to Castle Rock from Denver three years ago, and said she was excited to embrace the small-town lifestyle, including quaint coffee shops, local boutiques and lounging at small bookstores. The problem, she realized, was the lack of an independent bookstore in town.

“I really liked the small-town feeling, but then I realized there wasn’t a little bookstore that I could go to, so we decided to open one ourselves,” said McReynolds. “We both wanted to become business owners, and we’re both big readers, so we decided this was going to be it.”

Because of limited space, McReynolds said she and Durst have to curate the collection carefully, buying books that they think readers will want, as well as managing donated books. Books that aren’t put on the shelves are donated to local charities.

Sudden Fiction carries new and used books, in just about every genre imaginable. They offer store credit for donated books, and currently serve pour-over coffee with plans to offer a beer selection in the future.

While COVID restrictions prohibit a full capacity of customers from lounging in the store, McReynolds said customers are welcome to take advantage of the entire Ecclesia Market.

“They can bring food in here from downstairs, or they can come take books to the restaurant, or take a book and go outside,” said McReynolds.

By nature of being a bookstore, McReynolds said money’s always a little tight, but COVID restrictions have posed an even tighter operating budget.

“We got some disaster loans and CARES funds, which allowed us to keep our one employee,” said McReynolds. “And our landlord gave us a two-month abatement, which really saved us.”