Charissa Lucille is closing her Wasted Ink Zine Distro space at The Hive, an arts enclave located on 16th Street south of Thomas Road.
“The new owner of the hive [sic] trashed my store and hiked my rent close to 25%,” Lucille told Phoenix New Times by email on Monday, explaining why she's leaving the space.
Lucille says renovations inside Wasted Ink Zine Distro resulted in significant damage to the zines she sells, which include titles by dozens of different authors and illustrators.
Tenille Neilsen purchased The Hive earlier this year from Julia Fournier and Steve Helffrich, who launched The Hive in 2010. Fournier confirms that renovations are currently underway at the site. "We just closed on the sale two weeks ago,” she said.
New Times contacted Neilsen on Monday, but she wasn't interested in discussing Lucille's departure.
"Nope no comment," she said in a message. "I am unaware of Wasted Ink leaving." Asked a short time later if she wanted to comment on allegations of property damage and the rent increase, she wrote: "I would prefer not to comment at this time. I feel blindsided, I was not aware of any of this until I was contacted by The New Times."
“It's pretty catastrophic," Lucille says of the damage. "All the paper is covered in thick film and there are water spots. The shelves have collapsed, and I’ve lost hundreds of dollars in merchandise.” She’s still checking the extent of damage to items in a library section of the store.
Lucille packed up the contents of her shop on Monday. She’s making plans to put what she can salvage into storage while she operates her business online.
She says she’d hoped to remove the merchandise before renovations happened, but didn’t get enough notice to make that possible. "Tennille let me know the construction would take place on November 22, giving me less than 12-hour notice. The construction in my space began the next day ... despite her telling me they would delay my part of the construction."
But that was just part of her decision to leave. Her current rent, $360 per month, is going up 25 percent.
“I know my rent was underpriced, and I understand the price of real estate in the area," she says, "but that’s just not doable for me.”
Lucille launched Wasted Ink with Marna Kay in a Tempe strip mall in December 2015. They were evicted after less than a year in the space and in December 2016 relocated to The Hive, which has been home to several art studios, galleries, retail spaces, and performance spaces over the last decade.
Lucille says she considered closing her storefront after COVID-19 hit in March, but says she decided to stay to support The Hive. After Fournier announced the change in ownership in September, Lucille hoped to make it work.
Instead, she’s considering how to move forward. “I’m thinking of waiting until the COVID is a little less hot and heavy,” she says. “I’ll just have to get more creative and imaginative.”