In what’s starting to seem like a trend for long-established bookstores, 36-year-old That Bookstore in Blytheville, Ark., is the latest to be put up for sale. This month alone both Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Pittsburgh and RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, Ct., went on the market. TBIB owner Mary Gay Shipley, who turns 68 next month, told PW, “I want somebody to buy my store and make it theirs.”
In an an announcement on the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance listserv, Shipley quoted from Ecclesiastes: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” What was left unsaid is family health issues and the fact that Shipley is getting older, too. “I always thought I’d put a wreath on he door and say, Hey, it’s been fun,” says Shipley. “I realize I have a little more responsibility to the community.”
Although Shipley doesn’t have a firm time frame, she would like to introduce a new owner at BEA. She emphasizes that she’s not asking for a large price; she’s not planning to use the sale to fund her IRA. Her one prerequisite is for the owner to live in Blytheville.
While Shipley juggles the sale with family duties, she plans to continue buying through the season. “I’m not going to quit,” she says, at least for now. “We will be here through two more John Grisham books, events with Melissa Conroy, Ann B. Ross, Charlaine Harris, World Book Night, and Children’s Book Week.” However if a suitable buyer for the 2,400 sq. ft. space doesn’t come forward, she will close TBIB.
Interested buyers are encouraged to email Shipley at: firstname.lastname@example.org.