Saturday, December 13, 2014

That Bookstore In Blytheville - Blytheville, AR

That Bookstore In Blytheville - Blytheville, AR

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Every bookstore I visit has a story.  The same can also be said of every owner and in some cases every town.  It's no different with the bookstore, the owner, and this small town located in the northeast corner of Arkansas.  And this indie has been part of the downtown Blytheville scene for almost 40 years.  Succeeding and enduring in a town of 15,000 is no small feat.  The next 40 years is already being planned by an owner who has an incredible passion and vision for independent bookstores.

This store has a small town, country store kind of feel.  Everything from a wood-burning stove and old wooden floor to the many antiques displayed around the store.  The building itself is about 100 years old though and in desperate need of restoration.  Chris, the owner, has a great vision for the future and is embarking on a fund raising campaign in order to make repairs including redoing the electrical wiring, refurbishing the walls, ceilings, and floors, upgrading the lighting, heating, and air conditioning, and much more.  There are also plans for an outdoor patio/stage area for customers and music performances.  I know many of you are as appreciative of independent bookstores as I am so I encourage you to go to That Bookstore In Blytheville fundraising campaign and make a donation to help this community maintain their bookstore.

Chris came back home to Blytheville from Los Angeles where he was a talent and literary manager.  But he was ravaged by black mold in his body and came back home to die.  Long story short, he regained his health, bought the bookstore, and now looks forward to a great future.  He is the owner and sole staff member.  His "staff" consists strictly of volunteers that come in to help out, including his nephew Ezra.  You can understand the devotion of the community with people like this.

But Indie Bob, what about the store itself?  You will love it.  A one-level store with a great inventory of books, all new.  John Grisham is huge here since he is from the area and this is the store that got his books and name out there.  There is a great children's section where you can bring the kids to a weekly story time.  Also, lots of sidelines to pick from and Chris hopes to expand all of this with the renovation.  There are also frequent author and book events here in the store.

As with many of my visits though, this one was about the people.  When I walk into this small town store, taking pictures, I'm obviously the stranger.  After I talk to Chris briefly about my visit, he says, "Can I buy you lunch?"  Where else would I be with people like this but at an independedent bookstore.  This place is linked arm in arm with one special community.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  Tell No One, Harlan Coben.  WOW!

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Delta Empire, Jeannie Whayne.

One of the arches over the main street as you enter the downtown area.  

The store front and entrance.  This was formerly a jewelry store before it became...

...The Book Rack.  Front apron of entrance.  The Book Rack started out as a used paper back bookstore.  

The left store front window display.  

My view looking to the right from the entrance.  

My view looking to the left from the entrance.  

A super deal on Grisham books.  This store and previous owner Mary Gay Shipley are responsible for launching his great career.  

Some of the sidelines including Crabtree & Evelyn potions and lotions!

Author events are held here in the rear of the store.  If it's cold, no worries.  You have this wood-burning stove.  

A great place to try out a book.  

Looking at the rear room of the store.  

And another great place to browse a book.  

A great children's section and lots of children's sidelines.  

I love this neon sign in the back!

A great banner displayed in the store.  

More children's sidelines.  

More sidelines, including greeting cards.  

This picture may be difficult to gain perspective.  I'm trying to show some of the wood rot inside the front display window that needs to be restored.  

Your donation will help this area in back to become a patio area and raised stage for music performances.  

John Grisham's parents had a piano shop in downtown Blytheville.  This is John Grisham's piano and if you happen to come here when he's in the store, you might hear him play it!  
Chris, the owner, in the center and his nephew Ezra, on the left.  Thanks for a great visit!  

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