Since May of 2022, bookstores have been something of an endangered species in Cheyenne. Barnes and Noble closed its doors - its reopening was uncertain at the time of closure. Of locally-owned bookstores selling the latest publications, there were none. Bookstores were hanging on by a thread - nearly dead in the capital city as only a few used bookstores held the line.

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In a sad turn of events, the capital city of Wyoming became devoid of bookstores. Readers turned to grocery stores and department stores like Walmart and Target or traveled to one of Laramie or Fort Collins' numerous book retailers to scour the shelves for their next newly published or hard-to-find book.

But as of this week, Cheyenne's bookstore scene returns to life with the introduction of 'Bonsai Books' to the city.

Introducing Bonsai Books, Cheyenne's NEW Locally-Owned Bookshop

You can't miss Cheyenne's newest bookshop. The vibrant yellow house has stood on Quincy Road for over two decades. In its former life, it was the cheery abode of Doc Martin's Ear and Throat Clinic, which closed its doors in 2022. Upon closing, the yellow house's future was in limbo until Sarah John, daughter of the aforementioned Doc Martin and former clinic nurse, decided its future.

"Why a bookstore?" I asked her.

"For the love of books!" Sarah laughed. I couldn't help but smile with her, a smile all bibliophiles who horde books like precious jewels share. "I thought to myself....if I could do anything, what would I do?" Sarah continued, a slight smile gracing her face. "It's always been a dream of mine to open a bookstore." And with the house at 126 Quincy Rd. sitting vacant, she had the perfect opportunity to pursue that dream.

Why Call It Bonsai Books?

The first question on my mind...why Bonsai? As a Karate Kid fan, I could only think of Mr. Miagi's love of the trees when I first saw the sign. Sarah chuckled at that. "It's a bit like naming your child," she said. "My husband and I went back and forth on names. You know how it goes...How about this one? No. This one? No." They wanted something catchy and new that wouldn't get mistaken for another Wyoming-based business.

Finally, Sarah suggested Bonsai Books, and after consulting with friends and family, the name stuck. In honor of the name, the Johns' hired local artist James Overstreet to paint two gorgeous murals of bonsai trees on the yellow house. Overstreet's artwork is a predominant feature in Cheyenne's art scene - you can find his work on a few of the city's giant boots scattered throughout Downtown.

Check out James Overstreet's artwork here.

More Than a Bookstore: Bonsai is About Community

Few feelings can match the warmth found in a space as loved and welcoming as Bonsai Books. Cozy reading nooks and plush chairs beckon visitors to sit back and relax with their next literary adventure. The smell of coffee and the delightful perfume of ink and paper mingle in the air. Beneath twinkling chandeliers and the golden glow of sunlight streaking through the windows, the space all but radiates comfort.

Awaiting visitors to Bonsai are its dedicated curators, Sarah and Brendan John. The couple began the remodeling of Bonsai in January, but the work of a store owner was never finished. Today, John was busy adding books to the store's inventory, and Sarah took time out of manning the cafe to speak with me about the shop. "We have over 700 books coming on Wednesday," Sarah said, nodding to the bookshelves. "Tons more children's books, fiction, you name it."

Sarah and Brendan Johns, owner/operators of Bonsai Books. Credit: Phylicia Peterson, TSM SE Wyoming
Sarah and Brendan Johns, owner/operators of Bonsai Books.
Credit: Phylicia Peterson, TSM SE Wyoming

Bonsai isn't your run-of-the-mill corporate bookseller. Sarah wanted to focus on community in the new space and thus feature local and regional authors, indie books, and unique finds in the shop. Of course, you'll also find your favorite mainstream and new publications on the shelves. "We wanted to do something different," Sarah explained.

What's Next for Bonsai Books?

Bonsai Books will soon host an official Grand Opening, with a target date in November. A year from now, Sarah's hoping to have Bonsai Books become a local institution for book lovers, writers, and authors. "I'm open to hosting just about anything," Sarah said, nodding at the idea of author signings and writing workshops. "We really want this to be a place where people come just to hang out, feel welcome, and enjoy (and buy) books." 

Bonsai Books: Hours & Locations

  • Location: 126 Quincy Rd.
  • Hours: 
    • Monday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
    • Sunday: Noon to 5 p.m.
  • Additional Info: Click here.

Take a Sneak Peek at Cheyenne's 'Bonsai Books'

Check out Cheyenne's newest indie book store, Bonsai Books! The shop features new publications, unique novels, local authors, and more - plus a cafe.

Gallery Credit: Phylicia Peterson, Townsquare Media Laramie/Cheyenne

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