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It's Official: The Reading Reptile Will Close On March 12 — Meanwhile, Everything's For Sale

Andrea Tudhope
KCUR 89.3
Pete Cowdin and Deb Pettid with their pop-up plywood triptych of 'Captain Underpants,' which the plan to take into schools.

The Reading Reptile children's bookstore in Kansas City's Brookside neighborhood will close on March 12, its owners announced on Monday.

Pete Cowdin and Deb Pettid in mid-February told KCUR's Gina Kaufmann that they were leaving the legendary bookstore to work on the Rabbit Hole, a massive, museum-like environment in which visitors would be immersed in the narrative of children's literature. They described it as "the world's first explora-storium."

They did not, however, disclose specific plans for the Reading Reptile's future. Those were revealed in an email to customers on Feb. 29, written by Cowdin and Pettid with occasional references to Cowdin's alter-ego, A. Bitterman.

"There are no words to adequately express the thoughts and the feelings that accompany this level of passage, beyond saying thank you — for your support, your friendship, your trust, and for the privilege of being a part of your lives and your kids' reading lives. When it was good, it was very very good. And if that were the end of our story, it would indeed be a sad one," they wrote.

"But tears be gone! The story continues, and we want you — our friends and long-time supporters and everyone who's put up with our silly shenanigans over these many years — to come along with us as we embark on our next outlandishly ambitious adventure and make our way down, down, down into..." from there, the email included a link to the Rabbit Hole's website.

The Reading Reptile would re-emerge as a full-service bookstore and gift shop within the Rabbit Hole, they promised. Meanwhile, everything in the existing store had to go.

"Anything that's not attached to the building is for sale," they wrote.

The store will be open through March 5 (books 20 percent off), and then again from March 8-11 (books 50 percent off) with open bids accepted for fixtures, furniture appliances, and art. Bidding closes at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 11.

From 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, March 12, Cowdin and Pettid promised a party.

"Come say goodbye!" they wrote. "We'll have balloons, give-aways, Kleenex, and bloody mary's... Winning bidders must pick up items before 4 p.m. Anything left gets tossed or burned. 7-10 p.m. Closing party and wake! We'll have the body all laid out. (Bitterman in a coffin??) Come share a drink and a story or two ... sniff ... sniff ... bring whiskey (and any spare change you can muster for our debt relief fund...)."

C.J. Janovy is an arts reporter for KCUR 89.3. You can find her on Twitter, @cjjanovy.

A free press is among our country’s founding principles and most precious resources. As director of content-journalism at KCUR, I want everyone in our part of America to know we see them and we’re listening. I work to make sure the stories we tell and the conversations we convene reflect our complex realities, informing and inspiring all of us to meet the profound challenges of our time. Email me at cj@kcur.org.
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