by Jonathan Vatner
Cindy Dach, Marketing: Fashion and Related Industries ’89
Even before the pandemic, independent bookstores had to find creative ways to turn a profit when a lower price was always a few clicks away. But since COVID-19 closed businesses and ended most in-person gatherings, bookstores have been fighting to survive.
Changing Hands, a 45-year-old Arizona institution with locations in Tempe and Phoenix, is no exception. The bookstore, listed as one of the top indies in the country by Real Simple and Reader’s Digest, temporarily closed in mid-March because of the virus. Since then, Cindy Dach, co-owner and general manager, has been working nonstop in ever-changing conditions.
The two locations reopened with limited hours in late June. Despite the mandatory mask policy, Dach is unsure whether to stay open, since Arizona has become a global pandemic hotspot. “Everybody defines ‘safe’ differently,” she says.
For one, she is worried about her staff. Dach has always been careful to hire “book geeks” with diverse backgrounds and literary appetites, to ensure top-notch customer service. She invests in training and empowers her 60 employees. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has turned them into the mask police.