Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

By Becky Christofferson
Pine Bluffs Post 

The story ends for The Sisters Grimm


Becky Christofferson/Pine Bluffs Post

Tim Nolting takes down the sign that once marked The Sisters Grimm in Bushnell. The business recently closed its doors permanently.

The small village of Bushnell, Neb., was privy to call itself the home of a coffee shop and bookstore for the last five years. However, that all changed when The Sisters Grimm Books closed their doors for good in September.

According to Deb Carpenter-Nolting, the idea came to the family through a road trip that took them to Brownville, Neb., a town known for its rich history, arts and nature.

"We loved the idea and Jamie (Carpenter-Nolting's daughter) played with the notion of opening a bookstore there. During that same time, she had been accepted at Denver University for a master's program in Library Science," Carpenter-Nolting explained.

Carpenter-Nolting also said that when Jamie began looking for jobs and places to live in Denver, she experienced frustrations with the university's lack of communication on her schedule. "We (Carpenter-Nolting and her husband Tim) convinced her to open a bookstore in Bushnell in the horse barn at the edge of town."

The big red barn that sits at 1598 RD 34 N in Bushnell housed the shop and added to the overall ambience.

"Tim kept as many features of the barn as possible, the bunks, the feed chutes, the horse-chewed wood," Carpenter-Nolting explained. "It all adds to the charm of the space."

Sisters Grimm opened their doors on the Fourth of July 2011 and made the family dream a reality. Carpenter-Nolting said the grand opening "was spectacular" and the village of Bushnell was supportive in their endeavor. However as time went on, it was soon recognized that the book shop mainly provided people a fun experience to stop for a quick detour on their travels.

"We didn't have a lot of repeat business, but we did have loyal customers over the years," Carpenter-Nolting said. She went on to explain that at first, the shop offered lunch specials which in turn, created regulars that became like a second family. "Like Sara coming in for a blackberry mocha and Dennis stopping by for orange pop." The bookstore also saw strong backing by the Air Force troops.

The Sisters Grimm didn't start out with the current name however. According to Carpenter-Nolting, the family wanted it to name the business "Barns and No Bell" because there are actually two barns located on the property, but the state wouldn't allow the name.

"Jamie's undergraduate thesis was partially based on the Brothers' Grimm (fairytale)," she explained. "Part of the idea of the barn was to showcase the photography of Jamie's sister, Jessica." So thus, The Sisters Grimm was the name chosen.

While the lunch service proved to be too much to take on, the business went back on focusing their original idea – artwork, coffee and books.

"Most of our collection (of books) was donated by family and friends, plus we bought several boxes at auctions and estate sales," Carpenter-Nolting said. She further said that most books were used, but if a customer wanted a new title, they did do a search to find the book.

The bookstore also hosted concerts, readings and for two summers hosted the Windblown Arts Festival. The festival boasted music and poetry as well as food and beer.

"Martin Gilmore has headlined at the barn as well as John Pennell, a songwriter from Nashville," Carpenter-Nolting said.

For the first year, the business was open year-round, but subsequent years saw the store being opened during the summer months – Memorial Day to Labor Day. Although hard to estimate a number of visitors the store saw per year, Carpenter-Nolting said they had visitors from all over the world.

She recalled one visitor was a young man from Japan. He was honoring a friend who had passed away and planned to walk from United States coast to the other. Another visitor she remembered was from Ireland.

"The most moving visits have been from family members and friends of Ray Mintken, who raised horses in this barn," Carpenter-Nolting said. "We loved hearing stories of the kids growing up here and the horses that lived here."

The last day for the store to be open was Sept. 3 as a big closeout sale was held. Although the barn won't be housing the business any longer, it won't be sitting idle as Carpenter-Nolting and her husband will be moving in. A few renovations will take place so that there are two living places in the barn.

"The signs are down and it is official. We are closed. Thanks to our customers, friends, and family for making this venture a good one," she said. "It is always a difficult but rewarding time when the final chapter is read and the last drop of coffee is drained from the mug."


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