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Ken Sanders Rare Books expected to close as demand for new construction downtown increases

Posted at 10:25 PM, Jan 26, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — A well-known book store in Salt Lake City is nearing its last chapter.

Ken Sanders opened his shop “Ken Sanders Rare Books” with his daughter in 1997. He has bought and sold books ever since high school. He’s looking for an affordable location to move to, but so far, he’s been striking out.

Sanders's current location, at 300 South and 200 East, is home to 4,000 square feet full of literature. Ivory Homes, a homebuilder in Utah, is set to begin redevelopment in anywhere from one to two years. Sanders said this is just an economic reality.

"Book stores are endangered in cities across the country for the same economic reasons. Look around Salt Lake, find a block that doesn’t have something being actively bulldozed or built on," Sanders said. "I likely will be forced to put the better books in a warehouse and sell them online,” he said.

The city says that they are seeing new developments replace small businesses throughout the city, not just with Ken’s shop. Ben Kolendar, Acting Director for Economic Development for the city, said they are trying to come up with ways they can help growth while preserving the city’s character.

“It’s out of a good thing, people want to live here, people want to be downtown, and that creates a lot of demand for the space that is downtown,” Kolendar said.

To stay in his current location, Sanders would need to pay twenty-five dollars per square foot, right now, he can only afford one dollar per square foot.

“It's not sustainable, I can’t do it I don’t have any resources except books. I've never found a landlord yet that would take books for the rent," Sanders said.