Household supplies, tools, and everything else from those annoying flying-monkey toys to iron cookware fill the shelves of the Tupelo Hardware Company, a three-story, brick store located on the corner of West Main Street and South Front Street in downtown Tupelo. A worn piece of masking tape marks the spot on the wooden floor where Elvis Presley is said to have bought his first guitar, and a stand up of Elvis with his guitar is in the window.
The store’s president and owner, George H. Booth II, is an arts supporter who serves on the board of the Gumtree Museum of Art. Having grown up in Tupelo, he knows more than one artist and collector in the area. Judging from his children’s creative endeavors, his love for the arts is shared by his family. His son, George H. Booth III, enjoys playing banjo and guitar for fun. He also makes the fourth generation of the Booth family to help operate the store, which the Booths opened in 1926. Writer Catherine Lacey is George II’s daughter and lives in New York. Her first novel, Nobody Is Ever Missing, was published last year and has been reviewed in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Yorker. In an interview with Louise Scothern for Granta, Lacey mentions that she majored in visual art and in creative writing in college.
Within about 30 minutes of my meeting George II, he had phoned two artists and a collector and had jumped in the car with me to navigate me to Ashley Studio Pottery. Laura and Michael Ashley opened their studio and showroom in Tupelo in 2014. Stay tuned for future posts about them and their work.
Informal interview by Beth Batton with George H. Booth II, January 26, 2015.
“Welcome To Tupelo Hardward Company, Inc.,” Tupelo Hardware Company website, http://www.tupelohardware.com/aboutus.php.
Catherine Lacey, http://www.catherinelacey.com/.
Scothern, Louise, “Interview: Catherine Lacey,” Granta, 14 January 2014, http://www.granta.com/New-Writing/Interview-Catherine-Lacey.
John ________, “Tupelo Hardware & Elvis Part 3 – Johnson’s Sept 08 Trip,” YouTube.com. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RD0sGYF_vkg.
Except where noted, all photographs are copyright (c) Beth Batton and the Mississippi Museum of Art.