Changing Hands anniversary celebration

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Since opening on April 1, 1974, Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona, has become a cherished venue for authors and a community hub.

Founders Tom Broderson, Gayle Shanks and Bob Sommer inspired by their shared vision of a socially and environmentally responsible bookstore, transformed a small, struggling shop into a prominent independent bookstore with two locations that just celebrated 50 years of business.

“It does not feel like 50 years,” co-founder Gayle Shanks said. “It’s absolutely impossible for me to even believe that it could have been that long.”

Shanks said that she doesn’t like to drive down 5th Street or Mill Avenue in Tempe anymore because she feels like it doesn’t have the same community feel that it did all of those years ago.

“It’s kind of reverted to what it was when we first had this idea of opening up a store in 1974,” Shanks said.

So what was the idea of Changing Hands Bookstore? Shanks explained that their goal was to have a community gathering place in an area that had historical buildings and ambiance.

“We wanted a store that people would come into and relax in and think about the world and find great books for themselves and for their children,” Shanks said. “That’s what we were trying to build and curiously, I think we did build it.”

Shanks says that it is difficult to choose her fondest memory out of so many successful years of Changing Hands Bookstore.

“I think the continuous experience for me is seeing children running into the kids’ section, running! And demanding that their parent read them a book,” Shanks said. “As long as that keeps happening, I think our society is gonna keep being the kind of place that we want to live in.”

Gayle Shanks, Co-Founder, Changing Hands Bookstore

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