There's a new Bookmans in town, and it's not about books or music.

The longtime local used book store chain has branched out with the Bookmans Sports Exchange, which is opening today in the Rancho Center at 3330 E. Speedway.

The new store will specialize in buying and selling used sports equipment, including bicycles and fitness gear, as well as offering bike and gear repairs, owner Bob Oldfather said.

And the store will soon offer customers with electric cars Tucson's first public "fast-charging" system - powered by solar energy.

Besides the new place, Bookmans ( has three bookstores in Tucson and one each in Phoenix, Mesa and Flagstaff. All of the stores offer onsite electric-car charging free to patrons.

Oldfather, who founded Bookmans in 1976, said he felt a need to branch out into sporting goods partly because the era of recorded music media is waning. The bookstores sell CDs as well as books, games and other items.

"The recorded music business has been declining, and it's not coming back," Oldfather said.

The new store features a 13,000-square-foot main floor and a 10,000-foot basement space for a repair shop.

A collector of vintage electric cars, Oldfather said he views his support of electric vehicles as part of being a good corporate citizen.

"The power to effect change for good or ill rests with business - that's where the money is," Oldfather said.

The electric-car charging equipment, provided by Scottsdale-based GoE3, has arrived and will be installed later this month.

Oldfather said the installation will include one charger offering either so-called "Level 3" DC rapid charging - which can fully charge compatible electrics in as little as a half-hour - for a small fee, or slower Level 2 charging for free. Another charger will offer Level 2 charging, or Level 1 trickle charging.

A large 50-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array that will power the car chargers has already been installed and also provides covered parking.

While the installation isn't a moneymaker, Oldfather says he doesn't mind spending money to help drive positive change in the community.

"It doesn't make financial sense; it makes sense socially," he said.

Contact Assistant Business Editor David Wichner at or 573-4181.