What Price Literary Fame?
Mary Gay Shipley said she would part with her renowned That Bookstore in Blytheville for a mere $35,000.
The price includes the 2,400-SF building on Main Street, but not the inventory of about 10,000 books. Shipley, 67, told Whispers last week that she would negotiate a price for the inventory.
"I really don't want someone to take it over with such a heavy debt load that they can't enjoy it," she said. "It is my real hope to find someone who will make [the bookstore] theirs. I don't want them to take it over to be my store."
Shipley said a key selling point was that the relationships she had built with authors would continue under a new owner. Shipley said she'd spoken to John Grisham, whose literary career she helped launch, and he agreed to "continue to support the store with the new owner."
Shipley also said that she would help the new owner - in any capacity - if asked. Her business advice could be worth the price of the company alone. In 2008, the Associated Press travel editor listed That Bookstore among nine "destination" bookstores, putting it in the company of the legendary The Strand in New York.
In 2009, Shipley was also named one of Arkansas Business' top 25 Entrepreneurs & Innovators based on the success of the independent bookstore that she opened in the 1970s.
But if the new owner doesn't want Shipley's tips or suggestions, then, Shipley said, she'll wish the owner luck and return only as a customer.
Shipley, who early last week revealed she was planning to run for a seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives, said she realized the price she was asking for the business was low, but she also knows the economy isn't hot. In the last couple of years, annual revenue at the store has been flat, remaining in the $300,000-$400,000 range, she said. The store has two full-time employees and three who work part time.
Shipley said she decided to sell the business because she was getting older and didn't have any children to leave it to.
She hopes to have the new owner in place by June so she take him or her to New York for the BookExpo America, the premier publishing event in North America.