BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Changes are in the works for a popular locally owned bookstore in Region 8.
Mary Gay Shipley, owner of That Bookstore in Blytheville, is retiring.
Shipley released a statement on her decision:
It is now time for change. It has been a privilege to serve you all these years. I am proud of the role That Bookstore In Blytheville has played in the life of our community.
It is my sincere hope that someone or some group will come forward and continue TBIB in some fashion. I am not going anywhere and would be happy to help a new owner transform TBIB into their own vision.
Since its opening in 1976, That Bookstore in Blytheville has become a well-known venue in Region 8, hosting several notable authors and political figures, including "The Help" author Kathryn Stockett, Bill and Hilary Clinton, John Grisham and Condoleezza Rice.
Shipley said the author autographs she has collected on the wooden folding chairs she calls her guest books are only a small part of the memories she will take with her into retirement.
"I did have Richard Ford tell me one time, 'When I get to your store, I will be loved.'"
She said that love, the passion she has for books and people, is what helped her to make That Bookstore in Blytheville a cultural institution, not just in the city, but the Mid-south.
"We're close to Memphis and close to Oxford, Mississippi, and we spent a lot of time explaining geography to the publishers about how if you're going to fly them into Memphis and take them down to Oxford then for another half a day you can bring them up here," she said.
Shipley acknowledged the hard work she has done since 1976, bringing the likes of best-selling author John Grisham and former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to downtown Blytheville was no small feat.
"I've been really surprised. I have always thought when we started the store that it was my job to bring authors in to connect the creator of the work to the reader and the consumer of the work, and I just thought that's what book stores did."
Shipley said she hopes whoever takes the reins after her will not try to fill her shoes – just make the store for themselves what it has been to her all these years, a second home.
"Whoever takes it over will change it, but as long as they are making it true to them, then that same sense of humanness and sincerity, I think will come across."
That Bookstore in Blytheville
316 W. Main Street
Blytheville, AR 72315
Crescent Dragonwagon Book Signing
3/23/12 5-7 p.m.
John Grisham's new book release
4/10/12, Time TBD
Ann B. Ross Book Signing
4/13/12 6 p.m.
World Book Night
4/23/12, Time TBD
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