Tempe’s Changing Hands Is Part Bookstore, Part Retail Theater

Inc. is celebrating Small Business Week 2020 with a look at local merchants beloved by customers whose devotion goes beyond loyalty and well into passion.

Nevaeh McKenzie reliably attracts crowds to his monthly story hours at Changing Hands Books. Glossy-tressed and thick-lashed, McKenzie–Miss Gay Arizona 2015–reads from books about feelings and inclusion to between 40 and 100 parents and children, sprawled on the floor or perched on folding chairs. Later McKenzie and the other storytellers–Sophia Sinclair (former Empress to the Imperial Court of Arizona) and Gray Matter (the reigning Mister Phoenix Pride)–lead the children in a craft related to compassion and self-confidence.

“It is incredible to see a 10-year-old boy sitting there–laughing, crying–and then afterward saying this is the only place I feel safe in the entire world,” says Gayle Shanks, the store’s co-owner.

Drag Queen Story Hour, which Changing Hands introduced in 2019, joins an eclectic lineup of programs

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