Chris McCoy is selling The Book Rack at Canton Mart Square. Inventory – around 27,000 books, systems and 52 years of goodwill, are included in the purchase price.

Iconic Canton Mart Square shop, The Book Rack, is for sale.

Its owner, Chris McCoy, is reluctantly giving it up after five years, citing business and family obligations.

“I’m two weeks a month in Nashville,” he says, mentioning a recent addition to the family, a grandchild whose father – McCoy’s son – is deployed to Ukraine.

“I would love to keep it. But it needs someone there nurturing it, if not every day, pretty often.”

McCoy purchased the now 52-year-old business, one of Canton Mart’s original tenants, in 2013 after the passing of the longtime owner, Margaret McMullen. An avid reader, McCoy was on a shopping trip when the opportunity arose.

“I was in the store and talking to Margaret’s son, Mark, and he said he was going to close the store (after her death),” McCoy recalls. “At the time, it had been there 46… 47 years? I said, ‘You can’t sell it?’”

By the time he got home, McCoy had agreed to buy it. He broke the news to his wife by saying, “I bought a few books.”

“It was affordable, it was making money and it was self-supporting,” McCoy recounts.

The Book Rack carries all genres, mainly paperbacks, from vintage to current release, categorized by genre and alphabetized. McCoy says, “Give credit to Cheryl & Bob Blackledge for that task in my first year there.” He adds, “I can find the books. And they’re in the computer.”

McCoy says overall sales trends at the store are up. Inventory is completely computerized and online, and linked to Amazon and “a half dozen other e-commerce sites.”

“But I don’t have (that sales function) turned on right now,” McCoy says. “I don’t have time. That’s why it needs a hands-on (owner). It’s great for a retired person, great for a part-timer. It’s a stay-at-home parent or grandparent job. It’s just a good opportunity for someone like that.”

His location, at Canton Mart Square in LeFleur East, comes with a priceless landlord.

“Steve (Baker) is great,” McCoy says. “He’s responsive, treats you right, things are reasonable… things are clean. It’s a great place to do business. That tows the party line, I know. Everyone says it, but it’s true.”

A wholesale printer for years, McCoy sold his full-time business four years ago, took an eight-month sabbatical, then decided to go to work selling office supplies, printing and promotional products. A franchise of ABS – American Business Solutions – McCoy’s virtual office supply store offers local service, which, he says, is able to compete with the big box stores, even the local guys.

Will McCoy miss The Book Rack?

“Terribly,” he says. “I worked in there five days a week for a long time. I hate to sell. But if you’re not in there working it, it’s not The Book Rack. It’s just a bookstore.”