Founded in 1973, Antigone Books stands strong as a Tucson, Ariz., feminist landmark. A series of women have owned the store over the years, and when co-owners Trudy Mills and Kate Randall announced their retirements in 2018, a younger generation stepped up. Staffers Morgan Miller, Melissa Negelspach, and Kate Stern raised money via crowdfunding, bought the business, and leased the Fourth Avenue building from Mills and Randall.

Stern came to Antigone with five years’ experience at the Tattered Cover in Denver, and Miller previously worked at Sundog Books (Seaside, Fla.) and Blue Cypress Books (New Orleans). Fast friends, “we fantasized about how cool it would be if we had our own bookstore,” Stern recalls. Negelspach, who’d joined Antigone in 2008, was well versed in operations and ordering. Their personal tastes were complementary, too. Stern loves literary fiction and art (“I’ve enjoyed recommending Color Charts by Anne Varichon”); Miller handsells lesser-known classics by authors such as Jessie Redmon Fauset and mid-century crime writer Dorothy B. Hughes; and SFF fan Negelspach loves Iain M. Banks, Tamsyn Muir, and “anything by Holly Black or Garth Nix.”

The trio has sustained Antigone’s historic focus on social and environmental justice, and they give regional books pride of place. They display the Pima County Public Library’s popular Southwest Books of the Year up front with new releases. Local author Lydia Otero’s L.A. Interchanges and In the Shadows of the Freeway are top sellers, as are Linda Ronstadt’s Feels Like Home: A Love Song for the Sonoran Borderlands and Javier Zamora’s Solito, which Stern says “flew off our shelves.”

Antigone is “a small but mighty independent,” says Aaron Downey, managing editor at Tucson’s Rio Nuevo Publishers. Downey calls the bookstore “a safe space” for the region’s politically engaged community, with “a spirit of fighting for inclusiveness, diversity, equality, and much needed change.”

Negelspach says she’s “proud of the changes we’ve made, but also what we’ve kept the same” in Antigone’s latest iteration. She’s gratified to be among “the lineage of women who’ve kept the store going for the past 50 years.”