Lexington, Kentucky, has not been kind to Memphis recently. First, the state university lured away Tiger basketball coach John Calipari. Now the fate of a city treasure — Davis-Kidd Booksellers — lies in the hands of a bankruptcy court judge in Lexington.
Davis-Kidd's parent company is The Joseph-Beth Group, which filed bankruptcy last year. But the East Memphis store has performed so well that Joseph-Beth's president, Neil Van Uum, not only never closed it (unlike several others in its chain) but intended to buy it back at the April 20th auction in Cincinnati. Instead he lost the bid to Gordon Brothers liquidation, which is among the companies selling off Borders bookstores.
The Davis-Kidd bid still awaits a judge's approval. That will happen at a hearing on April 27th in Lexington.
A Memphis landmark since 1985, Davis-Kidd is more than a bookstore. For many Memphians — as well as their out-of-town guests — it's a destination in itself, an escape for bibliophiles, a meeting hub for friends, a happy place for kids, and a second home to some 40 employees who are surely among the best in the business.
We here at Memphis magazine are especially fond of Davis-Kidd for its unfailing support. It has cosponsored our fiction contest for two decades, held book-signings for staff writers such as Vance Lauderdale and John Branston, and sold more of our magazines than any other retailer in town. What's not to love?
For now, the bookstore's future is uncertain. What is certain is that Memphis cannot afford to lose this civic jewel, which has made Memphis a better place for a quarter of a century. Dare we hope for a second chance from the Lexington judge next week?
As one employee said, "We're going about business as usual and waiting to see what happens Wednesday. Fingers crossed."