After Lonesome Dove author Larry McMurtry died in 2021, his bookstore in Archer City, Texas, was turned over to the long-term store manager, Khristal Merklin. But as CNN reports, in November 2022, the deed was snapped up by Fixer Upper’s Chip Gaines.
Will Gaines tear out the bookshelves and cover the store in shiplap, or does he merely intend to spend time in the store reading in a comfy chair, stopping from time to time to pull the carpenter’s pencil from behind his ear and underline a prescient phrase in a rare edition? Here’s what we know.
Booked Up, Inc. is now a “fully online” venture, Merklin explains in the shop’s current webfront, following the sale of the buildings and inventory in 2022 to an investment company that lists Chip Gaines as the director. Intriguingly, CNN reports in an olde timey fashion, “The deed records show the properties were sold for ten dollars ‘and other good and valuable consideration.’”
McMurtry was a master bookseller specializing in rare books, with multiple locations across the U.S. at one point. The Archer City store was the last remaining shopfront, and had become a pilgrimage of sorts for devotees of McMurtry’s Westerns—also in part because the town is the home of The Royal Theater, which inspired McMurtry’s novel The Last Picture Show and was used in the film adaptation. The inventory is thus, we imagine, quite spectacular, which makes it all the more curious that Gaines was spotted with his father “carrying boxes of books out of the store,” by a tipster who helped local paper Archer County News break the story.
Gaines’ company Magnolia encompasses TV shows, home interior products, books, and also destination events and flagship stores in Gaines’ home base of Waco, Texas. There is speculation that he intends to create a similar “destination” out of Archer City. You can see it: peel off your union suit and take a steamer in Larry McMurtry’s original bookstore while leafing through fabric samples.
For now, Gaines is remaining tight-lipped.
The auction of McMurtry’s personal effects will take place in May, and include items such as typewriters, his grand piano, his bed, and his duct-taped cowboy boots, per the Vogt Auction gallery in San Antonio. No water moccasins listed.