On her drives home, Charissa Lucille passes the industrial strip mall that was home to Wasted Ink Zine Distro, the library and store she runs with her business partner, Marna Kay. It's still a weird feeling, she says, going past the place where the two hung shelves and posters, unloaded boxes of paper publications, hosted friends and fellow zinesters, and learned how to run their self-sustaining business.
Now, a year later, Lucille and Kay are doing it again.
In late August, Wasted Ink received notice of rental termination from their Tempe landlords, requesting that they vacate the building by Halloween. So, the two friends packed up shop — slowly, temporarily — and started searching for a new location.
They found one, at the Hive gallery off 16th Street, just south of Oak Street in Phoenix, in the arts-friendly Coronado neighborhood, home to vibrant murals, walkable galleries, and a handful of familiar faces.
"A lot of the people that came to the Tempe location were from Phoenix. It was a destination location," Lucille says.
Plenty of those former customers will become current customers again, when Wasted Ink Zine Distro re-opens its doors at its new location this weekend.
Things start off with "WIZD's Grand Re-Opening Party" at 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 3, at 2222 North 16th Street. The event features tabling from local zinesters Native Zinestress, Orbital Primival, Pity Party Zine, Queer Fears Zine, and Queer Indigenous Girl. Joy Young and Trejon Dunkley will perform live poetry readings, while Aaron Church, Dinosaur Love, and Boy Oh Boy will provide the night's live soundtrack.
The new location marks the second time in just shy of a year that Wasted Ink has set up shop, having hosted its opening celebration in Tempe early last December. Back then, they were filling what Kay and Lucille felt was a void in the underground publishing community: a lack of a brick-and-mortar store. This year, on the heels of a community outpouring on GoFundMe and the successful inaugural PHX Zine Fest (which both women helped co-found and organize), this "opening" feels more like giving back.
"[It's] definitely a thank you to the people that support this shop and the community," Kay says.
The duo started a GoFundMe campaign in early September to help with transportation and storage costs associated with moving Wasted Ink. In two days, they'd raised $600 in community donations — exactly half of their $1,200 goal. In just two weeks, they were able to exceed that goal, raising $1,223 from 27 contributors.
"I'm really looking forward to showing the community what we've done," Lucille says. "We're so grateful that we received so many donations so quickly that allowed us to seamlessly transition in to this space and get everything up and running. There's a lot of that went into it, and I think showing that [Wasted Ink] is open and that we're ready to go, we're not backing down, we're not going anywhere, will be a big thank you."
Kay and Lucille had explored the possibility of re-opening anywhere from uptown Phoenix to Scottsdale, but decided on the downtown-adjacent arts hub the Hive. Their 300-square-foot space is just across the courtyard from the Hive's large gallery room, and only doors away from retail locations and other studio spaces.
"We needed something that was maintainable for us at this point," Lucille says, adding that they entertained the idea of staying in Tempe, but balked at the 2,000-square-foot locations and their six year lease requirements. "I think that the Hive offers so many different artistic ideas that it's a really good spot to be surrounded by."
"There's an art gallery, we can also participate in First and Third Fridays and get foot traffic, too. In our other location, there was nothing like that; it was an industrial area," Kay adds. "And also, our landlords, Julie and Steven, they understand what we're doing. They're artists as well and very supportive, and that was something we really wanted: That our landlords knew what we were doing and understood it and advocated and supported it."
"We had support, we have the zines, we just needed to drill some holes," Lucille says. "It was a lot easier this time around."
Wasted Ink offers more than 250 zines for sale and features an ever-expanding library that, at least count, boasted 500 different zines. In addition to a heavy and growing list of local zinesters from the Valley and Tucson, the store also has titles from Australia, England, and Portugal. Both women still produce their own zines (Lucille is creator and editor-in-chief of Fem Static Zine and has worked on various other collaborative efforts, and Kay's B-Side Magazine is a collection of pieces on local musicians, artist, and businesses) but have become more focused on bringing in outside perspectives, "different eyes from different place in the world," Kay says.
"We want good representation of the zines that are photocopied, that style —" Lucille says.
"Grassroots, punk rock," Kay adds.
"— but we also want to show the zines that are a little more artistic," Lucille says, as the two mentioned titles like Dream Relics out of Tucson. "Because everything exists in between. [We want to] continue that open-minded idea about what zines are, and show our customers and our regulars."
Once the new location is up and running, Kay and Lucille plan to launch an online branch of Wasted Ink through their website, wizd-az.com. The goal is to connect people with zines worldwide, selling limited runs, between five to 10 hard copies, of titles that are hard to get at local tabling events.
"We absolutely recognize and understand the necessity of having tangible items, which is why we own a shop. But we also realize that there are some zines that we get from like, Australia, that maybe other people want in the United States," Lucille says. "Expands our reach even further and allows people to have access to media they might not otherwise have."
Both women also hope to reach out directly to those beyond the zine community, and teenagers in particular, with creative workshops and opportunities.
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"I just think at that age it's really crucial to be able to have a voice and know that their being heard," says Kay, who first got into zines when she was 17. "Maybe do more workshops, work with schools, work with teachers, do more hands-on stuff."
But for now, both women are focused on the new iteration of Wasted Ink, which draws in an all-ages crowd of old school zinesters in their 40s and 50s, to punk-rock kids, to New Age publications producing safe space, heightened consciousness content. And they hope to see a healthy mix of familiar faces and new fans at Saturday's re-opening.
"[We're] so excited to be accepted with open arms in the Hive and also in the neighborhood," Lucille says. "I think we're going to be very happy here."
Wasted Ink Zine Distro re-launches on Saturday, December 3, at The Hive gallery, 2222 North 16th Street. The free grand re-opening party begins at 7 p.m. and includes light refreshments alongside live art and performances. Visit www.wizd-az.com for details.