Wasted Ink Zine Distro, a small library and store that serves the Valley's zine community, is being forced to relocate less than a year after setting up shop in a west Tempe strip mall.
Owners Charissa Lucille and Marna Kay received an eviction notice last month with instructions to vacate the premises by late October. The two started a GoFundMe page to help with expenses from the unexpected move, and the literary community and a network of friends have already donated half the funding.
"I attribute [the GoFundMe success] to the community that we've really been bringing together in Tempe," Lucille says, adding that the notice "came as a total shock." "Not only do we have over a thousand zines in our shop for people to read, but we've also hosted many zine workshops, poetry readings, zine releases, musical events. It's really sort of all these people from all over the place getting together to make sure this space stays open."
Lucille sent New Times the 60-day termination notice she received on August 26 from RE/MAX Omni Consultants realtor Patricia Cain. The notice states her month-to-month rental agreement will "terminate sixty (60) days from your next rental due date, which is September 1, 2016. You must vacate by the following date: October 31, 2016."
Lucille tells New Times she called Cain — the only person she says she has been in contact with regarding leasing and rent since starting Wasted Ink — after receiving the notice to ask what was happening with the building. According to Lucille, Cain eventually told her the building was being demolished but would not say why.
New Times reached Cain by phone, who said she could not legally comment on who owned the property nor on what was expected to happen to it. She would only say the space was undergoing a "rebuilding" and that it was "no longer for rental office space." She denies telling Lucille anything about demolition.
According to records from the Maricopa County Assessor's Office, Quiktrip Corporation owns the deeds to two parcels of land, both with the 2121 West University Drive address. The deed documents on file were signed March 10 — around the same time Lucille says the building changed ownership. Quiktrip Corporation also owns the adjacent parcel, 2111 West University Drive, according to documents dated May 24. The company currently operates a gas station on that land, at the intersection of University Drive and 52nd Street.
"It's a tough thing to handle out of the blue, but we're really looking at it as an opportunity to make this space better and a little bit more accessible for people," Lucille says, mentioning that Wasted Ink is in the process of looking for a new home and hopes to re-open in the winter. "We have been in contact about two spots in Tempe, Scottsdale, uptown Phoenix, downtown Phoenix — we have a lot of different options right now. It's really a wonderful thing. We're definitely actively looking."
Lucille and Kay hope to make this new space a "Wasted Ink 2.0": a slightly bigger location with more space for events and workshops, as well as a place to house and display a growing stock of titles. The literary destination currently features 500 titles in the library section, with topics ranging from comics to fanzines, travel to feminism. More than 250 zines are available for purchase on site as well (prices range from five cents to $20), including Fem Static Zine, of which Lucille is creator and editor-in-chief, and B-Sides Magazine, Kay's regularly printed collection of pieces on local musicians, artists, and businesses, which recently released its seventh issue.
Both will continue their zines during Wasted Ink's transition, and they are still working as organizers for PHX Zine Fest, a large-scale zine meet-up coming to Icehouse in October. Their role in this niche community is an active one, with Wasted Ink as the business extension of that zine-spiration, bringing the self-published mini mags to a larger audience.
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"I feel like people know that spots like this need to exist and that they're really important," Kay says. "I guess Trunk Space was really the closest thing to a community space like this, and that's already closed, so we're kind of like the only one now in the area that does things like this. I think people are understanding how important that is and are jumping on board to help us out as much as they can."
The business partners created a GoFundMe account to help with transitional expenses like the packaging and transport of hundreds of zines, rental of a moving truck, and deposit for a new space — location to be decided. In just two days the page had received $600 in donations, exactly half of the $1,200 Wasted Ink is asking for. (The GoFundMe platform allows users to keep any money raised, with no penalty if the goal goes unmet.)
"We just cannot believe the overwhelming support we've received thus far. I still get all teary-eyed, it's just so amazing," Kay says. "It sucks that this is happening, [but] by this happening we get to realize how important the space was to people — and that's really cool."
Wasted Ink Zine Distro will remain open weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through late October at 2121 West University Drive, Suite 110 in Tempe. Open weeknights for special events or by appointment. Click on www.wizd-az.com for details and submission opportunities.