#WHYoming: Mary Schafer

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Welcome to a new SweetwaterNOW series, #WHYoming.

We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?

This week I sat down with Mary Schafer. Mary is the owner of the Book Barn in downtown Rock Springs. Before she was a bookstore owner, she was a marine, a bus driver and then a bookstore owner.


How did you end up in Rock Springs?

My husband was transferred up here for work in 1996 from Denver.

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What is something unique about you?

I am a former marine.

My family has a history of military service going back generations. I decided to go into the military. I did my research and thought the Marine Corps sounded like the toughest of them all. I figured if I can make it in the Marine Corps, I can do anything I want in life.

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Try. You’ve got to try. If I had not tried, I would not have my bookstore today.”

– Mary Schafer


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What made you want to open a bookstore?

I have always wanted to open a bookstore. Even when I was younger.

Before opening the store, I was a school bus driver and there was the Bus Barn. That gave me the idea for my store name Book Barn.

At the time, I had about 6,000 books in my personal collection. I used 3,000 of them to start the bookstore. It was really hard to put my books on the shelf to be sold.

The store has been open for five years now and I am getting ready to open up a new section of the building. I have a huge variety here. I’ve read about three-quarters of the 13,500 books in the store.

I can actually get books cheaper than people can get them from Amazon.

What do you appreciate most about our community?

People tend to lend a hand when you need it.

Last Friday, my car broke down in -16 degree weather. I waited on a tow truck for an hour. A gentleman pulled over and asked if I was ok and let me warm up in his truck for a bit. After I got a call from the tow truck, I told him he could go. He made sure I was ok then went on his way.

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If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?

Try. You’ve got to try. If I had not tried, I would not have my bookstore today. If you have a dream, go for it.

I was so scared when I started the bookstore. I didn’t think everything through. I didn’t have a supplier. I didn’t have extra money set aside. The partner that was going to start the store with me backed out after I rented the building and began painting. I just jumped in head first. I thought, if I fail, I fail. But, at least I could say I tried.

My husband and I have put a lot of work into the store.

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Book Barn in Rock Springs

Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweetwater County?

Of course my bookstore! I spend the majority of my time here. I love to get out in nature among the wide open country and wildlife.

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Would you rather walk, ride a bike, take a horse or drive a car?

I’d take a horse. I’m not a great horseback rider and have never owned one, but I have always wanted one.

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What would you sing at karaoke night?

I would choose “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood.

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How would your friends describe you?

I think outgoing and friendly.

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What is your proudest accomplishment?

I’d have to say opening the Book Barn and my children.

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 Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?

Pauley Perrette who plays Abby Sciuto on NCIS. I think she’d understand me and we could be really good friends.

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Why do you continue to live in Wyoming?

I love Wyoming. I love the wide open spaces and that we’re not a congested state with a high population. I love that we have the Tetons, Yellowstone National Park, Flaming Gorge and places like that.

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If you’d like us to interview yourself or someone you know for #WHYoming, please send us suggestions to abe@sweetwaternow.com