Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

August 7, 2014


Host: Ted Simons

Changing Hands Bookstore


  • From beef to books -- see how one bookstore is surviving in a tough market. Changing Hands Bookstore has taken over the building of the iconic Beef Eaters restaurant in Phoenix, which has closed, and is now peddling its products with some of the character of the restaurant still intact.
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: business, economy, changing, hands, bookstore, phoenix, restaurant, beef, eaters, books,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: It's not often a new bookstore opens these days. It's even more unusual to see a business take over an iconic restaurant, but that's happened in Central Phoenix. Christina Estes and Steve Aron have the story.

Every day we have a half dozen people come in to tell us their stories of this restaurant.

Christina Estes: For years Jay Newton's Beefeaters welcomed British diners. It was a popular spot for business deals and birthdays, political marriages and wedding anniversaries. Shortly after the owner died Beefeaters closed. The 17,000 square foot building sat vacant for seven years, until the owners of changing hands decided to open their second community bookstore.

Cindy Dach: It was a building the community very much wanted to save.

Christina Estes: But wanting to save something doesn’t always generate enough cash to make it happen.

Cindy Dach: As a bookstore not a lot of banks jump on the idea of loaning a model where everywhere else it's going out of business.

Christina Estes: Cindy Dach and her partners took out loans and turned to the community. They asked residents to pitch in $80,000. They collected more than $90,000.

Cindy Dach: There's a lot of ownership of people who come into the building.

That is right?

Cindy Dach: It's a legacy project. By donating, being one of the 1,100 people that made this happen, you're part of the legacy of our future.

There was a terrible jolt, the bicycle hit a rock and George flew off the seat head first.

Christina Estes: The future calls for a commitment to community events and gathering places. They kept the former restaurant's common space and added a coffee, wine and beer bar called first draft.

Cindy Dach: This is a free standing modern building. We wanted to make sure it wasn't just about us. We are now stewards of this building and how do we reflect that in our aesthetics.

Christina Estes: They removed carpeting to reveal the original floors. Installed skylights to brighten the original beams and repurposed the redwood.

Cindy Dach: Some people come in and you can tell they are looking for where they sat with their grandfather.

Shawna Eaton: They kept the -- I can tell they kept some of the rafters and fireplaces. It's very reminiscent.

Christina Estes: Shawna Eaton enjoyed some good meals in this building. Now she brings her daughter to enjoy good books.

Shawna Eaton: I think a lot of people in this area really want that kind of local flavor to come back more. They are not as willing to spend money at large chains as they are to go and shop at local shops now.

Christina Estes: Attached to the bookstore is southern rail, a new restaurant that honors its predecessor by showcasing the vintage leather booths, chandeliers and art pieces purchased in London. But they can't afford to let nostalgia cloud their business model. They need only to look at their shelves as a warning.

Cindy Dach: Last year, sadly, Over 300 Barnes & Nobles across the country closed. We reached out to seven nearby Barnes & Nobles that were closing and there was a store in Pasadena that donated all of their bookcases to us. They were on their way to the landfill. The owners were very excited that they were going to resurrect them.

Christina Estes: They added wheels so they can be easily moved. They also create a subtle reminder. That moving forward can be just as important as looking back.

Ted Simons: And while Changing Hands has only been open about three months in Phoenix, the Tempe store is celebrating its 40th year. And a reminder, we've done a lot of political coverage on the show a lot of debates. Find it all on or website at azpbs.org/horizon. Go to the website and find all of our political currently. Learn about what we've covered in the past what, we plan to cover in the future. Azpbs.org/horizon. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

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