The Book Gallery owner Mary Hardy would agree that books are to the brain what water is to plants.
She hopes to continue in her own way, contributing to the growth and expansion of minds of those young and old by making her bookstore somewhat of a literary haven.
Located at 647 S. Theobald St. in the South Side Shopping Complex, The Book Gallery was founded in 1995 and is the oldest and only independently female, black owned bookstore in the Mississippi Delta, according to Hardy.
Although specializing in African American Literature, the Book Gallery has the capability to provide patrons with what they want or need if it cannot be found in store.
Its current hours of operation are 2:30-5 p.m., Monday, 2:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 3-5:30 p.m. Friday and 1-4 p.m. Saturday.
Hardy said of the importance of the Book Gallery, “Well, it’s the only African American brick and mortar store in the area. It’s a service to the community.”
She continued, “I know people are ordering books online, but you don’t get the same feel from that book you order online as you would get when you come into a bookstore and browse and locate that book that you really really want.”
Being able to thumb through pages and having someone to talk to about a particular book is a unique experience Hardy pointed out.
“And I just think to have the bookstore in this area is an uplift for Theobald Street and Clay Street,” she said, reiterating its uplifting presence in the community. “We could’ve moved and we could’ve gone some place else, but we kept it here as sort of an enhancement and it’s kind of a solitude. It’s peaceful.”
Hardy said the Book Gallery gets a variation of customers — young, old, black and white.
She recalled an instance in which a patron came in to find a book on bridge because he teaches the game.
Although she couldn’t immediately locate it, as soon as she did, she delivered it to the patron herself.
“I always get excited if I see someone I haven’t seen for a while or don’t know…but I get a mixture of customers depending on what they’re looking for.”
A former educator, Hardy also works with students in the Greenville Renaissance Scholars program.
Her commitment to the GRS program is one of the larger reasons why her hours of operation are somewhat limited right now, but will eventually change.
One aspect of the Book Gallery that patrons will notice is the artwork of her students, which she will trim her walls with by hanging it for customers to observe.
Another aspect of the Book Gallery are the tables that have been named after different authors from the state of Mississippi, which feature the written works of those authors are rotated periodically.
Some of those authors include a local favorite, Woodrow Wilkins, journalist Katina Rankin, John Grisham and Marcus Haynes.
In addition, The Book Gallery provides for book signings, author and poetry readings, writing groups, book clubs, children readings, pop-up shops, “Moments with Mary” and virtual book reviews.
Upcoming events that will be held at The Book Gallery include a book launch party for Toni Chevelle of Zoe Life Publishing set for 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21.
Also, from 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 28, The Book Gallery will host “Book Talk and Reading with Mary Hardy.”
Refreshments will be available at both events.
From 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12, Hardy is inviting readers out to read and share “Becoming” by Michelle Obama.
Indoor pop-up shops will be hosted at The Book Gallery on select Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and those who are interested in the opportunity to book can do so for $25 per person.
For more information, Hardy can be reached at 662-820-5047.