Sister Store Sundays: Antigone Books!

Antigone Books

Welcome to the second installment of our new blog series “Sister Store Sundays”.
Every Sunday we will feature a quick Q&A with another Independent Bookstore. We want to introduce you to some of the fabulous people who are nurturing the cultural conversation around the country. This week we are excited to feature Antigone Books of Tucson, AZ! Th,ey are an entirely solar powered, bike friendly bookstore!!!! If you are headed out that way take an afternoon to drop by.

Antigone Books(AB): Hi, I’m Trudy Mills, co-owner of Antigone Books--and former North Carolinian. (Grew up in Kinston, school in Chapel Hill. And, my grown daughter now lives in Raleigh.)

OBOFS: Why did you get into this bookstore?
AB: I moved to AZ to teach women’s studies in 1982. Long story, but the store came up for sale in 1986 so I jumped ship from academia to bookstores. My current business partner, Kate Randall, was an employee but became a partner in 1990.

OBOFS: How many people do you employ?
AB: We currently have 9 employees.

OBOFS: How has social medial helped the business?
AB: We send out e-newsletters for much of our publicity but this is augmented by Facebook—which is easy to use for quick fun announcements. We’re entering
Twitter world now because I understand some of the college set are moving away from Facebook and email. Just keeps changing, doesn’t it?

OBOFS: What is different today from when you started out?
AB: When I bought the store in 1986, the book world was not dominated by chains or by Amazon. And, obviously, no e-books. Also, when I bought this particular store it was strictly a feminist bookstore (there were many of them started in the 1970s) ---featuring few sidelines or general interest books. It was also tiny. Now, we are a decent sized
bookstore, still with a feminist slant but more general in focus. We also sell journals, cards and other gifts—which are essential to our survival.

OBOFS: What do you wish you had known then?
AB: Actually, I am glad I didn’t know what was to happen in the world of books because I might not have bought the store. Running a bookstore is hard work , but so rewarding. I might have chickened out, though, if I had had a crystal ball.

OBOFS: What should the public know about independent bookstores that they probably don’t?
AB: I think the public is becoming aware that the corporate take-over of everything is not good. In our area, the “Local First” movement is growing, and this is a great thing. Independent bookstores are often central in expressing & supporting the unique culture of an area. People need to be willing to pay a bit more to keep this.

OBOFS: What plans does the store have for the next year that people should keep an eye out for?
AB: We don’t have specific plans regarding the content of the store for the next year, but the area we are located in is getting a Street Car, so that is exciting for us. We are also working on getting Green Certified.

OBOFS: How do you handle the “Amazon Showroom” Phenomenon?”
AB: We stole this idea from another bookstore. On our bathroom we have a sign: “Public Restrooms. You won’t find those on” One thing we’ve done in response to the demand for discounts is start a frequent shopper card. It’s called Antigone Bucks, and it is very popular. We also sell the Kobo ereader, in part
so we can explain to folks who don’t read physical books that they have a choice other than Amazon.

OBOFS: What do you offer your community that they and B&N don’t?
AB: We are a community clearing house for lots of information. We sell lots of local authors. We don’t charge promoters to sell tickets to local events. And, the feel of the store is non-corporate and lots of fun, if I do say so myself!

OBOFS: What are you reading right now that is captivating?
AB: I just finished Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. Excellent novel! Also, an interesting nonfiction title is In the City of Bikes, by Pete Jordan, which is a history of Amsterdam and its love affair with bikes (in contrast with the US love affair with cars.) I’m also totally sucked into the Louise Penny mystery series which is set in Canada.

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  1. A Wilmington Institution since 1982
  2. Buying Old Books: The ultimate Recycling
  3. Best African American Literature Selection in Town
  4. Extensive Foreign Language Section: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese
  5. The ONLY bookstore in town to deliver!
  6. Paperback Classics at affordable prices (Great for English classes!)
  7. Incredible Judaica Section
  8. Largest selection of scripts and Theatre/Film books in Town
  9. Where else are you going to find a first edition for under $10?
  10. Bibliophiles rock!