Tucson Community Unites to Support Fourth Avenue’s Beloved Antigone Books

A community isn’t a community without a bookstore.
 (Left to right) Morgan Miller, Kate Stern, and Melissa Negelspach stand behind the counter at Antigone Books in Tucson, Arizona. The three staff members are slated to take ownership of the independent bookstore in May. 

(Left to right) Morgan Miller, Kate Stern, and Melissa Negelspach stand behind the counter at Antigone Books in Tucson, Arizona. The three staff members are slated to take ownership of the independent bookstore in May. 

“A community isn’t a community without a bookstore, and Tucson isn’t Tucson without Antigone Books,” says Melissa Negelspach, who has worked at the independently owned bookstore for ten years. With help from the community, Negelspach is partnering with two female colleagues, Morgan Miller and Kate Stern, to buy the well-established independent bookstore from longtime owners Kate Randall and Trudy Mills.

Antigone Books, which was established in 1973, has been run by Randall and Mills for more than 30 years. Over its 45-year existence, the Fourth Avenue staple has set many important precedents, locally and nationally––it became the first 100% solar bookstore in the U.S., remains the oldest feminist bookstore in the country, and long ago committed to supporting local authors, artisans, and organizations. Throughout its existence, the Tucson community has rewarded Antigone’s efforts with unwavering support, in turn allowing the local bookstore to thrive despite the rise of big-box retailers, e-books, and e-commerce sites such as Amazon. 

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After Randall and Mills announced in 2016 that they would sell the revolutionary bookstore to “the perfect match,” Negelspach, Miller, and Stern stepped up to the plate. With support from Randall and Mills, the three dedicated staff members have spent the last year learning the ins and outs of running a business. “These three women are smart, passionate and hardworking. They have what it takes. They’re also community minded, and they really care about independent bookstores and local businesses,” says Randall. 

Now that Negelspach, Miller, and Stern have secured a Small Business Administration loan, they’re continuing to raise money through a crowd-funding campaign––and the Tucson community is showing its support for the future of Antigone Books. With donations from community members, the new owners surpassed their goal of $32,000 in only four days, making it clear that Tucson recognizes the value of this locally owned bookstore. “Tucson has been the perfect home for this very independent bookstore,” says Randall, “probably because of its very independent-minded residents.” 

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You can help support the soon-to-be owners of Antigone Books by donating to their Indiegogo campaign (and receiving some very special local gifts in return). Then, show your support in person when you celebrate at Antigone Books’ Independent Bookstore Day party on Saturday, April 28th. They’ll have food, prizes, and (of course) books; most importantly, all profits from that day will be donated to Negelspach, Miller, and Stern to help set them up for a long and successful future at Tucson’s beloved bookstore.

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