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Changing Hands to open ‘book bar’ in central Phoenix

TEMPE, Ariz. — A staple of retail literature in the Valley is looking to expand while trying out a new concept.

Changing Hands Bookstore has been in Tempe for 40 years and will open a second location in central Phoenix, but co-owner Cindy Dach said the new store will have a twist.

“Central Phoenix hasn’t had a new bookstore in a very long time, and the idea of opening a book bar inside of the bookstore is a brand new concept for Arizona,” Dach said.

Inside the new location at 3rd Avenue and Camelback Road, Dach said there will be a bar called First Draft, geared toward local and craft wines, beers and coffee.

“The coffee (inside stores) has made sense for years and years, but we noticed at our current store when we have large events, before the event a lot of out attendees go to the bar that’s next door to us now,” she said. “We just thought, ‘What if we had captured that inside our store?’ Somebody could have a glass of wine and peruse a book at the same time and keep that all under one roof.”

Dach said once the store is up and running they’ll look to host events and authors, much like the one in Tempe has done for years, but she said the feel of the Phoenix location will be different.

“The new store is right off the light rail. It’s the old, historic Beefeater’s building, and we’re reusing a large portion of that building. So it’s going to have a little bit more of an industrial feel,” she said. “I like to refer to it as the urban version of this (Tempe) store.”

First Draft will also serve food, Dach said, with baked goods and bar food prepared and delivered by the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center.

Dach said the concept could help create a better experience for customers and help the company’s profits.

“There’s not a lot of profitability in bookstores. It’s a very tough business. It’s one that the community loves and values, and people love working in bookstores,” she said. “We’re looking for that other thing that helps this become a better business model.”

Dach said she doesn’t have a confirmed date for opening, but expect it to be in early May.