Goin' Farther South
Pat Hutter, co-owner and Mike's wife, said they have been in Biloxi for about 30 years now, once coming from southern California where they previously owned bookstores. I asked her if she missed California. She said she missed California some, but not what California has become with the overpopulation, the influx of ticky-tack housing, and the destruction of greenspace. She said that with air conditioning in the summer, she liked Mississippi just fine.
The Hutters both said that, in addition to the problem of very light foot traffic, they have found it very difficult to get new books since the hurricane struck. Many private libraries (weep!) were lost to Katrina and Rita, and it is nearly impossible to find good books anywhere close by. It is a crying shame, because this is a really nifty bookstore which may be able to continue to stumble along, but which will need a lot of help to do more than that. If you are in the neighborhood, stop in and see the Hutters. They are very nice folks and very knowledgeable book dealers.
Though Spanish Trail is the only used, non-Christian bookstore I found, we did a quick walk through the Biloxi Books-A-Million; what my husband calls one of the Godzilla bookstores. It was chock full of new books, mostly new arrivals, and a really good selection of top selling authors' paperbacks and hardbacks, a lot of kiddy books, and many non-fiction books that will soon be remainders, I think. I bought a couple of new Southern Sci-Fi authors (I'm addicted), but otherwise found nothing particularly interesting. The sign outside says 40% off, but when you get to the check-out counter, you find it is actually mostly 10% with a few older books at 40%, so look out.
We spent our month working industriously on the boat then began the journey home. It was pedal to the metal most of the way but for a quick stop in one of our favorite towns, Mesilla, New Mexico. It is a quaint little adobe town, very historic for its place near the Mexican border and for the fact that Billy the Kid was sentenced to hang there. The Mesilla Book Center is on the plaza in old town. They specialize in Southwestern Americana, of which they had a good selection, and lots of kids' books, Indian art and craft books, and various Navajo and Chimayo objects d' arte including beautiful rugs and some wonderful silver jewelry. The owner, Mary Bowlin, has had the store for forty-one years. She and her little dogs are focal points when one walks in the store. Her son-in-law works there and it seems to be a mostly family operated store. The folks were very nice and it was a really nice end to our bookstore tours. We got back to Nevada, once again without stopping in Las Vegas, and are now rushing to get caught up from two months of goofin' off in the south. Ta, ta, y'all.