Washington DC’s oldest independent book and music stores

Thanks to you and all our loyal customers who supported us for the last 36 years in the Washington area.


A message from John Olsson:

Although it is a sad day for us, I’m very proud of what we accomplished. Special thanks to all our thousands of loyal customers. We will miss you.

485 Responses to “Olsson’s is Closed”

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  12. Jen Says:

    I came here because no one else has Space 1999, and thought that my old favorite store, torn down to make way for multi-million dollar condos in downtown Bethesda, might have it.

    The store where 12 years ago I bought my then-boyfriend a cute kid’s book for Christmas that we still take off the shelf. The store where we laughed at the stomping of the Tae Kwon Do studio above, that I eventually joined. The ultimate go-to place for the holidays for an Einstein doll, Cinnabon lip balm, or signed Parker book. Not to mention Potter release night(s).


  13. Lydia Says:

    Hi all — I worked part-time at the Dupont and Bethesda stores from 1994 until 1996 and had the resources at my fingertips, that set the stage for a couple! a career changes… It was with pleasure that I spent slightly more than I earned in the whole period of time due to your generous employee discounts and the fantastic stimulating atmosphere. In the busy times — customers would turn me onto new books and music. When it was late in the evening, or slower, I’d pick up tips and preferences from co-workers and osmosis. Thanks for being there for me. Lydia

  14. Martha Stewart Says:

    Ugh. I moved out of the Dupont Circle area a number of years ago, and moved far, but am now transplanted into Crystal City. Tonight, in urban desperation, decided to walk to your store here for the comfort that the Dupont store brought for ten years. Gone! Sad, confused and concerned, came home and got on the Internet and now this, that you’ve closed.
    I can see myself at Dupont, on the day that Stephan Grappelli died, finding more of what he had accomplished and feeling better. Always enjoyed what was on the check out counter. And me too, loved the staff reccomendations.
    I have my black store mug, and will have to treasure that in the morning and hold on tighter. Big bummer. Please take care and know you were a great addition to my life.

  15. Robin Says:

    While this is a little after the fact, I wanted to let you know how comforting and entertaining your Penn Quarter location was to me.
    I came to DC as a museum intern immediately after college. I did not know a single person in this city, which made things very lonely. I found your Penn Quarter store while exploring the neighborhood. I was immediately smitten with the large and unique collection of art/art history books–unlike any collection at a chain bookstore. I returned to Olsson’s many times a week, spending my measly intern stipend and staying to read the book I purchased. I have now been in DC for 5 years, and thank Olsson’s for being my first friend in this city.

  16. Carlos Lins da Silva Says:

    May 12, 2009

    I lived for ten years in the Washington area in the 1990’s. My son was born here and I brought him with me in my weekend visits to Ollson’s branches in Bethesda, Georgetown, Metrocenter and Dupont Circle. Among the dearest memories of my life are those of my now 17 year old kid brownsing through your children’s books and records, picking his favourites. I boght so many beloved items to him in your stores that I have to always be grateful for letting me know them. Before and after my years as a Wasgington area resident, my first appointment when I visited it was to drop by one of your stores. Recently, only the Dupont Circle one. Last Saturday, after an almost two years absence, I walked into it. I felt so angry when I saw you were not any longer there that I started shouting and kicking the air with my foot. I felt as I had lost one of my best friends. And I felt very afraid of the world my son will live in. A world without intelligent bookstores may not be worth living in. I am very sorry. And very thankful for what you gave me throughout these years.

    Carlos Lins da Silva

  17. Susanne Says:

    We visited DC several times from the UK and discovering Olssons was one of the joys of the city for us - first in Alexandia and then on 7th Street when we stayed in a hotel just up the road. We were very sorry to hear that you had fallen prey to the malaise affecting book stores. We do our best to seek out independant book shops where ever we travel and are sad to have one less to revisit.

  18. Crowe W Says:

    Man, that stinks. Still, I’ve been seeing Olsson’s DVD rental cases here and there around Richmond, VA. They were tossed into freebie baskets on occasion. Sad, but a few free movies (yea) .. Maybe just as smart a business will rise from the ashes of this awesome store.

  19. Birdie Says:

    I am so saddened that this fine bookstore is gone. When I moved to DC from Boston, I was immensely homesick, and thus was delighted to find Olssons’ bookstore in Penn Quarter near my office. It reminded me of the book stores in Cambridge — the sales people were knowledgeable and warm, and steered me to many good reads. I am so sad that we live in a world where independent book stores cannot survive.

  20. Paul Heltzel Says:

    It’s been said before, but it still stings–we miss you in Old Town. Walking down Union Street yesterday, nice spring day, the place isn’t the same without you all. Thanks for everything–and best of luck in the future.

  21. Karen DeWitt Says:

    I loved this bookstore and frequented the one at Dupont Circle. The staff was knowledgeable and courteous and I could sit on one of the stools in the back on a rainy day and just browse through books. Now my Olsson’s card is useless and I am sad. My friends know that I’m a patron of independent bookstores and that I rarely order anything from Amazon. I wish all the Olsson “family” the best in the future.

  22. Leslie Says:

    Heartbreaking. So sad to see another of your locations closed. I frequented the Georgetown store for many years and could always count on the knowledgeable staff to recommend great music and books. Since that store’s closing, the character of Georgetown has truly not been the same. Now, the DuPont store and all the others have closed. This is a sad day for greater Washington, but I hope that the Olsson’s family and staff will find brightness in their futures. Best of luck to you all and thanks for such distinctive, memorable service all these years.

  23. Andrea Says:

    I used to work at Olsson’s in the 80’s. Back then it was the Book Annex and I worked both in Georgetown and at the Dupont Circle store. I live in LA now and have told many people how great Olsson’s was. What a loss. I have seen many good indie bookstores and record stores die out. This one leaes a hole in my heart.

  24. Regina Says:

    So very sorry that Olsson’s has left Alexandria. It has been a refuge for me for many, many years. To many book / coffee memories to count!

  25. Michael Andrews Says:

    Olsson’s was very special. I was a customer for two decades. I shopped at other bookshops in DC, but Olsson’s always had something I wouldn’t find elsewhere. I especially liked how the book buyers sourced books and CDs from the UK that weren’t widely available in the US. I dropped some serious money on these finds, but I treasured them.
    Each store had a special orientation. I seemed to recall the Georgetown store as being strong on academic titles, while Dupont was culturally trendier, and the Metro center store was especially good for travel books and remainders. And Olsson’s put an intelligent face on DC when they opened a concession in the new National Airport. Olsson’s represented everything that made be proud to be a native Washingtonian — sophisticated, knowledgeable, and cosmopolitan.
    While I am sorry, and am also grateful for the service it provided. Olsson’s is missed, but hopefully the folks that made it happen can feel gratitude from it’s former patrons.

  26. Mark Says:

    Oh shit! I just past through National Airport for the first time since last fall, and saw something amiss next to Legal Seafood. I confronted the staff at Borders, who explained that it had not been a hostile takeover of the space, that Olsson’s had closed, and they came in to fill the vacant space. This is SUCH a loss. I lived in DC years ago, and frequented the store, and when work brought me back, I would visit the Dupont Circle and National Airport stores. I loved the intelligent selection of books, as well as the commentaries by the staff. So sorry to see this institution go.

  27. R Young Says:

    I loved browsing & shopping your store. I especially enjoyed the “local music” section, where one could find all the hometown DC/NoVA/MD bands whose works one could usually only get at concerts. The staff was helpful, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable, and the stores always well stocked with interesting items…not just popular pot boilers like big chain stores. Thanks for your service to the area over the years!

  28. Roger Gilroy Says:

    Just heard the of closing. We are in Florida now, but I remember buying a purple kitty with a tail long that looked just right for a two-year-old to clutch. It was to be her first toy from her new parents, and so it went us to Russia on our journey to adopt her. My daughter still has it on her bed seven years later. That gift was purchased at Courthouse. So Olssons did good by us and many others, and we all will remember the stores and staff fondly. Thanks

  29. CJONES Says:

    God Bless You. I am sorry for your company closing you. You have been a resource that I greatly under appreciated. You stand TALL amongst the crowd of MEGA stores as a true business designed to sell books to those who love to read.
    All I can offer is a stunned messages…..

    May God bless each of you. I wish you
    a Very Happy New Year. I pray 2007 is
    a year of peace, happiness, better heath,
    prosperity and love for each of the Olsson’s Family.

  30. Sabrina Says:

    This is indeed sad. I have very fond memories of visiting the Old Town location as a kid. I loved that store. I’m sorry to see you go.

  31. Cynthia Mendoza Says:

    I would patronize Olsson’s in DC some afternoons while a student at SIS, American University. It is there that I found what I call my unique and peculiar collection of D.C. and White House related books and political memorabilia, which I still have, much which are out of print or no longer being manufactured. Thirty years later, during my sporadic job related visits to D.C. I would “home” into Olsson’s at Dupont Circle evenings - it was almost like going home, where else could I find the unique and peculiar culture and documentary DVDs and Washington themed books. I also loved staff’s handwritten written insightful commentaries placed below books referenced in the commentaries. Forget about Dalton’s and Barnes & Noble, Olsson’s is and will always be #1 in my heart. A big hug and a kiss to each one who helped make this unique book store happen and made it a special experience for me. Now when I visit Washingon again, I will feel lost without you!

  32. Juliana Says:

    oops. meant to say “is so sad”

  33. Juliana Says:

    This i so sad. What will you guys do with all the left over books?

  34. Meg Says:

    I’ve been wondering as I walk past the Dupont Circle store on my way to work - what will become of all the inventory behind those locked doors??? Will there be a sale or something?

    I worked in DC from 1990 to 1996 and frittered away many a lunch hour (and lots of cash) at Olssons then. After 12 years away, I had occasion to return to the neighborhood for work, and was thrilled to visit Olssons again… so imagine how sad I was when I learned of the closing.

  35. Robin Cracknell Says:

    Some of my best and happiest years were spent working in Olssons Georgetown shop –then Record and Tape Ltd, The Book Annex. By far, John Olsson was the best ‘boss’ I ever had. He had a lot of integrity and patience and gave a lot of people second chances when others would not have been so forgiving. I learned a lot from him and from the people I worked with. Five very memorable years. DC will never be the same without Olssons.
    Thanks John for everything.
    Robin Cracknell

  36. Roger Bullock Says:

    The DC area is just not the same without Olsson’s - you made a difference.

  37. Mark Arnold Says:

    I worked at the Old Town location from 1985 - 1988. It was the most fun I’ve ever had while working. Met a lot of really great people to whom I am in debt for their influence on my taste in music, literature and art.

  38. H. F. Merritt Says:

    I haven’t been to DC in the past 6 months, so I was stunned to read about the closure of Olsson’s. This bookstore has been part of my life for more than 25 years. No visit to Georgetown would be complete without the requisite visit to the late, lamented Wisconsin Avenue location! Olsson’s always had the best, most eclectic music selections available - I had a bunch of really obscure CDs ripped off from my car when I lived in Alexandria back in the early 90s - thanks to Olsson’s, I replaced them all in a matter of weeks! When the Georgetown branch closed, I frequented the Dupont Circle and downtown locations - loved the cafe at the latter store! Shoot - now, where will I go for my Criterion Collection DVDs? It’s a sad, sad day for book lovers and music lovers in the Nation’s Capital, now that Olsson’s has gone away. Thank you guys for literally decades of memories. Unlike many other area stores that have given up the ghost over the years, Olsson’s will DEFINITELY be missed.

  39. Saul Colodny Says:

    For John:

    Ran across stories of the end of your chain. I don’t know if you’ll remember me from Discount Records, but I always appreciated working there and the chauffeur services you were kind enough to offer me.

    I always wondered what my life would have been like if I’d stayed with Bob and maybe come in with you after his end.

    Thanks John.

    Saul Colodny

  40. Michael John COleman Says:

    I am stunned to see this icon of Old Town Alexandria close. It will truely be a great loss to the community. I am deeply saddened to walk by and not be able to walk in to peruse the unique music and books that I know would alway great me when I needed a break. Traggic to see such a ‘local’ shop go the wayside. Please tell the owners thank you for the many years of joy you gave me and my friends as well as my out of state or overseas guests. Your stores will be truly missed. Old Town will miss you. Best of luck with what ever the owners do–as we wish them a happy new year–if that is possible?

    Hey! Who will help me find that song from 1974 stuck in my head from that movie I just saw? Or who will tell me all about that Welsch rocker Mary Ann Duffy? Or is Kate Bush still working? Well none I saddly fear, because Olsson’s is not there to answer!

    Michael John Coleman-
    Photographer/Health Advocate

  41. Susan Says:

    I miss you Olssons. You were never big and flashy the way the box stores are. It was cozy, comforting and easy to browse for hours. I miss you. Come back to me.

  42. Danielle Says:

    I was so sad to hear about this. I lived in Ballston in 2001-2003 and loved to walk to and shop at the Courthouse Olsson’s at least once a week. I used to go for the great selection (never the staff which was generally very unfriencly). Another good independent bookstore bites the dust.

  43. Elizabeth Davis Says:

    I’m just at a loss for words. Olsson’s has been my very favorite bookstore (Dupont Circle, from 1984; Old Town for the last five years). The staff recommendations were always worth reading or listening to and the bookshelves always held some surprising find in even the most obscure topics. Many happy memories were spent in the Dupont Store, and the Georgetown store, and the G Street Store, and Old Town. A salute to the owners and staff who made Olsson’s so very special for so very many years of my life. I’m very sad to you go.

  44. anthony walker Says:

    Olssons at G Street was a favorite , long before the others stores shut down, but it seeemed like no matter what location I went to , there was knowlgeable helpful staff , just waiting to assist you…try finding that at Borders!

  45. Lindsey C. Says:

    I was so sad to find out of Olsson’s closing. It was always my first stop when I found myself wandering on a weekend afternoon. Of all the things that come and go in DC, Olsson’s absence, I’ll feel.

  46. Eddie F. Says:

    I am sorry to see Olsson’s go. I have been shopping there since I was a student here in DC in the late 80’s, despite the often snotty and disdainful staff. The selection of books and music was excellent, and the atmosphere always pleasant. It’s a shame to see a local landmark close its doors.

  47. Jada O. Says:

    The Dupont store has been one of my favorite locations in the city since I moved here a few years ago. Its great selection of books, music and movies, the cozy interior and the welcoming staff made me feel at home in Seattle. We will miss you and wish all staff our best for the future…

  48. Gret Says:

    How sad. I lived in DC for almost 10 years, and the Dupont store was one of my favorite haunts. When I was back in DC for business, I always made a point to stop by, and continued to order books and music from where I live now. What a loss for the DC-area community. All my best to the Olsson’s team - thanks for the great service, the great reading and music, and the great memories. You are missed.

  49. Emily G Says:

    Sad day. When people used to rave about Kramer’s, I told them where the real bookstore was in town — down the street at the Dupont Olssons. Sad to see all of you go.

  50. Jamie K. Says:

    Olssons was that one bookstore that I could go in for hours and browse down the rows, on the lookout for the post-its attached to books that the employees recommended. These recommendations never failed me once. When I’d be inundated with commercial recommendations of books from (insert typical big name bookstore) and everyone else jumping on that bandwagon to recommend the same exact books, it was such a breath of fresh air to be able to stroll into Olssons and get a unique recommendation. I’m going to miss that. Forever a loyal fan. Thanks for all the memories! (and please do tell us if/when you do come back!)

  51. John Jones Says:

    I had two first dates conclude in Olsson’s, one at the Georgetown store, the other in Bethesda (with the woman I later married). I spent many hours during my undergrad days at the Georgetown store as well. I’m going to miss you guys.

    I hope, deep down, that the store might back someday. Here’s hoping.

    Until then, a toast to good memories. Cheers.

  52. Razz Waff Says:

    Wow- this certainly explains why I couldn’t find you as I was driving around Old Town last night looking for the store to buy a gift card for my daughter. I travel from the Milwaukee/Chicago area to Alexandria frequently and have always made it a point to stop by the store, which as others have said was an oasis. This is a major loss, and outside of Powell’s in Portland, OR and Square Books in Oxford, MS, there aren’t many locally owned independent bookstores left. Thanks for the great service over the years- you will be missed!

  53. Sandra Says:

    In the cultural wasteland around Court House metro, the little Olssons was an oasis. It nurtured my soul at lunchtime. Now, I peer through the barred windows like a kid locked out of a candy store. Here’s an idea: how about federal bailouts for bookstores instead of investment banks? A truly civilized society would do it, but alas, such is not ours.

  54. John Grant Says:

    I was a loyal customer of the Penn Quarter store, I went twice a week to rent movies and buy books. I thought the other stores were still open but found out recently they were not. You had a great staff and a great store, thank you.

  55. Salazars Says:

    The Salazars will all miss you. Thanks for employing us, entertaining us and feeding us cookies.

  56. Ed O Says:

    I have an unredeemed gift certificate as well. Useless?

  57. Tim Says:

    I am sorry for the closing but I have a question for your Chapter 7 accountant. I have $25 Gift certificate my wife bought prior to closiing. Is there a way to reclaim this money or is it “Gone with the Wind”?

  58. Leah Says:

    This is sad. I really loved the stores, and I was really impressed with the staff. I remember in particular one time that I was reading a series, buying the next book as I finished. One day, as soon as I put my foot through the door, an employee rushed over to me. He said that he was sorry, but he had sold the next book I was to read to another customer earlier that morning, but he had already put in an order for another copy for me to have the next day. I was shocked that he had tracked my progress through the series! Customer service just doesn’t get any better than that…

  59. Melissa Says:

    just quick hello from a former dupont employee. it is still one of the best places i’ve worked and i’d so hoped to stop by if i made it back to DC. i still miss getting recommendations from candler, werner and john. hope everyone’s ok.

  60. James Nash Says:

    The words of the 424 people ahead of me are so moving! What a testimonial to all you’ve given us! It’s a crime that the current book and music market has brought you down.

    I have been a huge fan of Olsson’s for decades. Of course there was the almost ridiculously knowledgeable and kind-hearted staff. You all gave me the sense that you loved to read. Plus your superb collection of books. But you stole my heart with that insidious 20%-off-after-you-spend-$100 deal. For a book-addict like me this was irresistible. It fed my addiction to book-buying by encouraging me to go on periodic big book-buying binges - that 20% off was good only one time! What a perfect excuse to indulge! Then you had to earn another ‘fix’ by spending another $100!

    I used to work in an office above the Dupont Circle store, and what a guilty pleasure it was to steal down there sometimes to browse through the books and music as I developed my next binge list! Usually the books I wanted weren’t in stock, so I had to order them, and let them accumulate on the shelf until they were all in, so I could buy the lot at 20% off. The staff was unfailing in their patience with my never-ending requests. So often they also came up with brilliant solutions to the various arcane problems I presented them, e.g. the need for a large, though not unabridged, Spanish-English dictionary with a thumb index, or just the right book to get my ten–year old son off the video games and become a book-addict like his father. And that reminds me….

    The last book I bought at Olsson’s says it all: The Phantom Toll Booth.

    Brilliant! Thank you, Olsson’s. I will always miss you and I’ll never forget you!

  61. Customer Says:

    What am I supposed to do with my gift certificate?

  62. Mark Wolfe Says:

    Life at the Dupont Circle store was a real education for me, 1991-1993.

    One of my best moments was during a book signing for Gore Vidal. He was using the “classical music reference desk” for signing books, but oddly not many people attended. At one point a customer, not knowing who he was talking to, ask Gore for help with some classical vocalist compact disc recommendation. He gladly jumped to action, and was flipping through various recordings offering his expert advice on sound and fidelity. I hope that the piano bench or whatever was used for seating at the classical desk gets preserved. It had the bummies of a lot of wonderful Olsson’s employees on it!

    Thanks for the memories.

    PS: I miss staring into the Green/Monochrome screen of Byron, “Computer Say’s No.”

  63. Regan Says:

    Olsson’s has been such a wonderful addition to my community for many years. Thank you.

  64. jane sloane Says:

    I was so terribly sad to find Olssons closed when I arrived in Washington from Australia for another business trip. I stood outside the Crystal City store and was willing others passing by to join me in a silent vigil of both celebration and commiseration. How doubly sad to peer inside at all the books and to see Obama’s books of dreams and visions and to think that, for this enterprise, the promise has come too late. A light has gone out in Washington, one that was brightly lit for this booklover, and lover of independent bookstores and music stores.

  65. Anurag Joshi Says:

    Sad to hear this. Am from Mumbai, India. I visited DC in fall, 2004 and used to spend considerable time at your store at Dupont Circle. Leafing through pages of numerous books. What struck me about the store was it looked such a basic neighbourhood bookstore, but the choice of books and records was absolutely unbelievable. Remember buying a few travel books.
    The Dupont store was a fond memory I carried back when I returned back after a one-month vacation in the US. So much so, I added Olsson to the favourite pages on my desktop. Regularly surfed the site to check out the latest happenings on DC’s literary and music scene.
    I had really wished Olsson would have lived on for my next visit. all I can say is Olsson will be missed.

  66. Meredith Slesinger Says:

    I spent four short (and impressionable!) years between the ages of 17 and 21 (1998 -2002) working at multiple Olsson’s locations: Bethesda, Georgetown, and Dupont. Despite my degree in comparative literature, I have no doubt I learned more about books and writing working at Olsson’s than in the classroom. The music that was introduced to me by my fellow employees and customers is still the highlight of my collection. I spent far more than my paycheck at the store and it was worth every penny..
    Olsson’s will certainly be missed…

  67. Jeff Place Says:

    One more quick addendum to my last email. Other than seeing Teddy Kennedy walk in to Dupont Circle one night to go to a Judy Woodruff book signing, my favorite memory of the book signings was (for those old enough to remember the details of Watergate) when John Ehrlichman had a signing with his “tell-all” book about the dirty tricks that went on during the Nixon campaign. George McGovern (who was a regular customer, he liked country records and had an office just north of the circle) walked in and passed Ehrlichman’s table and smirked at him and asked “hows the book doing, John?”. Magic moments at that store.

    Also errata: I should have thanked Cynthia C. for the reunion idea, not her sister Anna, who also worked there. Cheers-JP

  68. Cristine Says:

    NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I just discovered your book store a year ago (in O-Town) and I fell in love with it. It had a cozy, warm, indie feel. The unique collection of books, records, cd’s, dvds, perfect for people such as myself who found stores such as Barnes & Noble too large and overwhelming for one thing, AND just plain typical. I would get excited whenever I was headed your way, because I knew I would always find atleast one book or dvd, etc that I’d want, but I never knew what it would be or where I would find it….and that’s what made it so fun and special It was like going on a treasure hunt. I’d always come up with some piece of gold! Well needless to say I am very sad and only wish I had discovered you longer than a year ago. Perhaps, this is only temporary and you will open again sometime in the future????? (I’m an optimist). At the very least, you should have a going out of business book sale! :)

    Thank you Olsson’s and all of the friendly, smiling employees who worked there.


  69. Jeff Place Says:

    Real sad news, I knew things were tenious but not that bad read about it the Style Section that morning.

    I too am an alumni going back to the Record and Tape Ltd. days (before it changed names to Olsson’s). I was the last manager of Discount Records and Books at Dupont Circle (and came with the furniture when John bought the store in ‘81). Boy, I remember our last year or so at Discount before it went under so I can emphathize. John had been a former manager of that store before going solo and he did a fabulous job of carrying on the great book-record tradition that Bob Bialek had started at Discount. I remember some great and knowledgable folks at that store (it used to be around the other side next to the tunnel going under the Circle). Some great record clerks, Steve Whealton, John Niles, Bill Brower, Gordon Soutar, Tim Cotton. I remember Steve Brown in books being the guy who ‘outed” Stephen King as his alter-ego Bachmann. This is how deeply he read the books. It was that kind of heavy duty knowledge the employees had. A lot a great musicians worked there at one time. The bulk of my 20s is so associated with Olsson’s. We had a group house with something like 8 or 9 of us from the store on upper Connecticut Ave. for a few years.

    I later ended up in Gtown and then the warehouse until 1987, some great colleagues Rusty, the late Pete D. and Doug Jay turned me on to some great blues I still listen to today. The Post was right when stressing the value of the employees to the customers. Maybe I’m old but the Internet is no comparison to me to talking music to a real human and browsing through record covers.

    Sorry to hear of the passing of Jeff Searle.

    John, you done good. I hope you’re able to turn your energies to something that gives you pleasure. I echo Anna C. if there is any sort of reunion I’ll be there- JP

  70. Will Says:

    Olsson’s: you will be missed. I was very disappointed to hear about this closure. I walked past the Dupont Circle location recently and witnessed another’s disappointment first-hand when walking to the front door only to be shocked to see the “CLOSED” sign.

  71. Kathleen Says:

    Thank you for your independence, your innovations, and your terrific customer service. I particularly appreciate your Old Town Alexandria store, with its knowledgeable and wry staff. Wishing you all well, with deep appreciation.

  72. Erin Harris Singer Says:

    Oh wow……I don’t know if I can say anything nearly as poetic or articulate as many of these posts, or mention anything that hasn’t already been touched on. But anyone who worked with me in Bethesda knows I like to talk, so I have to give it a shot!

    I’m a little late in finding out this horribly sad news, because I no longer live in the DC area — my husband just happened to be back in DC for work last week & brought me a copy of The Onion, where I read about Olssons closing. I almost wish I hadn’t read it, and then I could pretend that — even though the location I worked in for 4+ years is no more — there are still wonderful independent book & music stores scattered about the DC area, populated by smart, funny, interesting employees and interesting, funny, and smart customers.

    Olssons was the best job I’ve ever had, despite the fact that I always thought I’d hate retail and wasn’t a typical “sales” kinda girl. I learned so much there, and worked with some of the greatest people. I added ridiculously to my own book & music collections, courtesy of Bill & Randall & Bob & Elliot and the galleys and play copies that overflowed in the back room. I got to meet some incredible authors, got to chat with some fascinating people, and — most importantly — learned something every single day I was there. I’m in grad school right now to be a children’s librarian. My years at Olssons nurtured my love of books & reading and helped me realize that I wanted to work with books — and readers — for the long haul. =)

    I wish everyone in the Olssons family the best in the future, and thank Mr. Olsson & everyone else for fighting the good fight for so many years. It’s so bittersweet to read all of these comments and see how deeply Olssons touched so many people. But I’m not surprised. Those stores were magical places — and DC will truly be lacking something special without them.






  74. Berit Oskey Says:

    I was so sad to come to the Olsson’s site to find that the stores are closed. The Dupont store was an oasis for me - a special treat after a tough client meeting or a place to cheer up after seeing a friend off on NYC bus.

    Thank you for adding to DC and to my life. Olsson’s will be missed!

  75. Matt Peterson Says:

    I fell in love with Olsson’s as a college student and worked there right out of school. It’s nice to see comments from Jean, Victor, Chris and others and to reminisce about Jim, John, Edie and Byron. And like others, I met the love of my life there. It’s a shame that our three kids–book and music lovers all–won’t know Olsson’s–how sad. It made frumpy, preppy DC a better place. Well done Jim Tenney, J. O. and others.

  76. Keith Mounts Says:

    The in-store concert by Al Petteway at the Dupont store is a memory I’ll always enjoy revisiting. You couldn’t be closer than standing 4 feet from the artist! Thanks for everything you brought into our lives. You will be missed.

  77. Cliff Adelman Says:

    Was a regular visitor and buyer at your Dupont Circle shop as long as you have been there. It became part of the rhythem of life, was a magnet for contemplation, a place where staff knew you and would engage in helpful guidance on a wide range of offerings. We’re losing these connections, missing beats in the rhythms of life. Some day we’re going to ask where all the flowers have gone.

  78. Vincent Says:

    I am really disappointing insomuch that another small business has been shoved aside by the overwhelming weight of the cold-fronted mega-book store conglomerates.

    In the late 80’s living in Washington DC I used to go to Olsson’s on 19&L St where I became a regular and got know the staff quite well, I always remember them as quite a colourful bunch almost like characters from some of the mystery novels I would read. There was Eric Gear the manager - always in a rush, always liked to take his lunches in peace except when there was a pretty girl on the shop floor), Valerie a beautiful but hard-nosed sales manager - who was a wealth of knowledge about African-American history, Christian Wolff an English swashbuckling disc jockey who had a fantastic knowledge in obscure and contemporary music, and last not least there was Miles who ran the classical music dept. All of these staff were amazing and had such diverse attitudes - it was a pleasure just to hand-out at Olsson’s and watch and listen to them. By the 90’s these staff had all gone their own ways and most probably have done their own thing. I stopped going to 19th & L after that and stayed shopping at Olsson’s in Georgetown until I left to return to London.

    I am truly sorry that you have had to close down - I am more than sure the community of Washington DC and beyond will sadly miss you.

    Best of Luck


  79. Gerald Steininger Says:

    I`m so sorry. Four years ago I discovered your remarkable bookshop at my first visit to Washington. I bought a coupled of records and I felt at home. Best wishes to all of you.
    Gerald Steininger from Berlin (Germany)

  80. Virginia Says:

    The first time I went to the Dupont store I was about 11 and bought Carol King’s “Really Rosie” on tape. Fast forward 8 years. I was a college drop out looking for something to do with my life. Steve P. helped me get the job that really did change my life. Werner taught me more about music than I realized I needed to know, and the rest taught me about life (including how to avoid the stalkers).
    Coming out and coming of age at the Dupont store was one of the best things that could have happened to me. I soaked up as much as I could from the employees and the customers.
    I’ve always been, and always will be, proud to have been part of the Olsson’s family.
    Penny, sorry I sat on and squished your banana that one time.

  81. Bernie Branfield Says:

    This is one major reason for me not to come to Washington DC any more. I visit DC about once a year and always asked the staff for help in choosing a book for my wife. First edition crime, they always found a book that she enjoyed and I was converted to crime writing by their choices. I just hope that some of the staff who worked for you will perpetuate real book reading enthusiasm to other traders. The life of an indenpendent book seller is hard, my local book shop in the UK has also disappeared.

  82. gerald harrington Says:

    Dear John, I worked for a you a short time many years ago at your 19th Street store before I went on to graduate school. I always saw your bookstores as part of the heart of Washington’s culture and I was thrilled when I got a chance to work for you. Your bookstores were places of sophistication and depth, your employees were intelligent and friendly–because you designed your bookstores that way. Washington will be a poorer place without its honorable bookseller. Congratulations on your significant achievement. Be well!

  83. Ravi Nair Says:

    I have fond memories of being both a customer and employee of Olssons. I am saddened by the news that
    the store is no more but wish everyone the best of luck
    in the future.

  84. Enid Romanek Says:

    Dear Mr Olsson, forgive me for contacting you this way, but I don’t know how else to contact you. Your store in Alexandria had my local scene note cards on consignment. At the time you closed, you had 26 packages of cards on hand, for which I had not been paid. I would like to receive the cards back. Would you or someone working for you please contact me so we can arrange this? Thank you.
    By the way, both my husband and I were also loyal customers over the years. I shopped at your store across from the Key, and also your store in Bethesda. Also, you used to sell my calendar, DC Doings, at all your locations, and for a while you sold my prints. It was always a pleasure doing business with your employees and I thank you for your support of my work. Your stores will be missed indeed. Best wishes, Enid Romanek

  85. Jennifer m Ierardi Says:

    Very sad day . I hope the team that made Olssons what it was finds another career that they can feel connected to.
    Essentials Marketing called on Olssons for a number of years representing different labels and accessories.
    Brooke and Alicia were always a call I looked forward to making.

  86. Sarah Bennett Says:

    When Olsson’s was Record & Tape Ltd at 19th & L, I was a customer on my lunch hour. One of your staff “broke the rules” and asked me out to lunch. Matt Prestone, classical buyer, and I have been married for many years. So along with being a wonderful book and record store chain, Olsson’s has special memories for me.

  87. Alice Says:

    The worst news for a reader. I enjoyed finding so many different books at your stores throughout DC. I remember when you closed in Bethesda, then Penn Quarter, this is a sad day for all of us in DC. I hope all your great people land where they wish in the world of books and business.

  88. Craig Ritchie Says:

    I have memories to last a lifetime from working at the Georgetown store when the offices were up the creaky narrow stairs and the Mail Order Department was down in the ancient cellar.
    Thank you, Mr. Olsson, for the literary and musical enlightenment which you helped me and thousands of others realize over all those years.

  89. Joe Says:

    Upsetting news. And what has become of Dupont, now lacking a movie theater, a hardware store, and any venue for live music. Where — honestly, where? — can I now go to find a decent selection of new music on CD? Olsson’s staff, I beg you to transform your knowledge of the business into creating new independent stores in DC.

  90. Sue Says:

    Over the years I have made many of my best CD and book discoveries at your stores. Thank you for adding so much enjoyment to my life!

  91. Joe Says:

    I had no idea until I walked by the Dupont location yesterday. Very sad indeed. I picked up my first Fugazi cd in the Georgetown store in the early 90’s. Last spring I picked up a rare hard to find Trojan label rocksteady cd of an artist named Desmond Dekkar. Olssons always had hidden and hard to find gems in their music collection and a supercool staff. You will be missed tremendously. All the best to you.

  92. Aaron Says:

    One of the first jobs I ever had in D.C. was Xmas work at the Dupont location and I was very impressed with the knowledge and kindness of the yearly staff. I wasn’t able to stay after the holidays but I became a semi-loyal customer and even sent people there when I worked at certain other record stores in the Dupont area (why wait a month for a special order when it was right down the street at a better price?)

    It’s a shame to see such a great source of music, literature and knowledge disappear amongst Amazon monopolization and a shoddy economy. My best wishes to all the staff and their families.

  93. Pamela Woolford Says:

    I’m more than sorry to see this happen. Olsson’s in Dupont was one of my favorite locations in DC. I appreciated the excellent product selections, the knowledgeable staff, and their recommendations. And I was a regular at the readings at Dupont and at 7th Street. The stores were part of a literary culture in DC and will be greatly missed.

  94. Juan Says:

    What a shame. Your Dupont store had been a favorite of mine since I moved to DC in the 80s. First it was the movie theater, then you. Dupont - once an example of diversity and small independent businesses - is not what it used to be.

  95. Paul Faatz Says:

    Somebody should write a book…

  96. Jenny Baker Says:

    I am so sad about this. I went by the Dupont store the other day, even though I’d heard it was closed. It was terrible to see the books in there, but no people, and the doors locked and lights off. I will miss the place more than I can say.

    With the loss of Olsson’s and Candida’s, we in Washington are one step closer to having faceless, generic chain stores be our only choice for book-buying, and that is saddest of all.

  97. Donigan Merritt Says:

    I was scheduled for a reading-signing event for my latest novel at the Dupont Circle store on the 9th. I hope no one thinks this was my fault.

    The demise of any independent bookstore staffed by a knowledgeable group of book lovers is a tragedy for any literate culture, maybe indicating also the demise of literate culture.

    Thank you for 36 years on the front lines of knowledge and culture.

  98. Debbie Johnson Says:

    I just learned today that Olsson’s is closed. One of the highlights of my vacationy trip was to stop at the airport store, on both arrival and departure. It’s sad to know that Olsson’s is gone. Best wishes to all those involved.

  99. Jen Severidt Says:

    I was one of the seasonal workers at the Bethesda store in 1997 and so began the best second job I ever had. The people I was surrounded with stimulated me everyday from my co-workers to the customers. My music knowledge grew exponentially (as did my CD collection) and my book collection - well lets just say I’ve been back in VT 5 years and I’m still working through the stack of reader’s copies that Bill sent me home with. Working for Olsson’s is one of my foundest memories of life in DC and I am deeply sadden to know that I will not be stepping back into my past at one of the stores during my next visit. Thank you everyone at Olsson’s for sticking it out as long as you did.

  100. Blake Says:

    heard the news and couldn’t believe it. given the recent economic disaster, I suppose it shouldn’t be. but this does show the importance of patronizing your local book store (or for that matter, restaurant, hardware store, bike shop, etc.). If we don’t, this is the consequence. A world w/out character, no snse of community! I sincerely hope everyone who posted a comment, but their $ where their keypad was, and always tries to SHOP LOCAL.

    As for me, I will miss Olssons. It’s where I came for me music ( some purchased on a whim from what happened to be playing @ the store at the time. It’s where I rented my movies (to avoid the evil Blockbuster chain), and is where I came to unwind from work and learn , whether from a book, write-up, über-knowledgable sales clerk, or reading by an author. It was a great place to go hear a musician in town in an intmite setting.

    I recall w/ a smile on my face, checking out after a woman in front of me @ duPont purchased what seemed to be an endless stack of books. Turns out she was a book reviewer for the Post, clearly a frequent customer. can’t help but think about where she (and me) will go now.

    Thanks for everything!

  101. Steve Kuhn Says:

    Christ, what a drag. I haven’t lived in DC since 1995 but remember Olsson’s with great fondness. Haven’t really found its like in the other places I’ve lived. Good luck to us all…..

  102. JAG Says:

    Thanks for giving me a lot of great memories over the years. My Dad and I used to swing into to the Old Town store after bike rides to Mount Vernon on weekends when I was a kid and I bought some of my first CDs at Olsson’s way back when. Very sad to see you guys leaving us. Good luck to everyone and especially John as he moves on to future endeavors!

  103. Lori. P Says:

    As I meant to thank EVERYONE in my testimonial #336 and neglected to, I would like to insert that sentiment now. As my job entailed paying strict attention to detail, you can see I am still haunted by it!

  104. Jean Says:

    Jeff & Fran,

    I have probably the too greatest objets from Georgetown–the Neon sign and the circuit board & CPU of Byron 1.0!

    Do keep in touch everyone–jeanrw (at) comcast.net or the facebook group “Olsson’s Books & Records”.


  105. Jeff Williams Says:

    A lot of people talk about how Olsson’s attracted intelligent employees, but I don’t think it should be underestimated how much the Olsson’s culture created intelligent employees.

    I was certainly one of those employees who learned more than I can quantify in my many years there. With so much knowledge and intelligence floating around, it’s impossible not to pick a great deal up through osmosis alone. But some of my specific lessons included courses in Classical Music from Ted Richards and Paul Miller, lessons in jazz from Paul, Blues from Lynne, Tom Waits from Donna and the Great Sironi, Books–all books–from Jim Tenney, Strange and innovative ways of thought from Evan, History and some wonderful gems of vocabulary from John McD, how to relate with your employees from Jean, something from Byron though I’m not sure what, and… the list goes on. All this along with what can be learned from just being in the presence of such brilliant books and music for 8 (9, 10) hours a day (a tip of my hat to the buyers) in an environment that encourages you to know as much as you can. And customers who were just as eager to educate as they were to learn about the next great thing.

    Over an 11 year span, I worked in 4 stores, 3 departments, was a veteran of well over a hundred all-night inventories, closed Georgetown (and nearly went bat-guano crazy in the process), lived with co-workers, left and came back, chased bad guys through dark alleys, had horrible times, got to eat lunch on the steps of the Smithsonian Art History Museum every day for a year, made friends for life, and even got to ride the run with Peter once.

    I invested a lot of myself into Olsson’s and I got far more out of the place than I could have ever put into it. And when you can look back on your life and the equation turns out that way, that’s a good deal.

    Thanks to everyone from Mr. Olsson down to the temporary holiday help in the Mail Order Department.

    And while Fran may still have the Cash poster, I still have the Literary Criticism shelves, ha!

  106. Peter Says:

    Visited the 2111 Wilson store… right by where I worked. Will miss you guys!

  107. Nick Tenney Says:

    I would like to personally thank Jon Olsson for all he has done. Because of Olsson’s my father (Jim Tenney) afforded our family a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes on our back, college, lawyers for me =), etc.

    Because of Olsson as a kid I was able to go to the beach every summer at his beach house at Bethany Beach. Those were the fondest days of my life and fostered my love for the sea. I’ve since moved to Hawai’i as a result — when I smell the sea and sand here it brings me back there.

    Being the son of Jim Tenney had its perks I must say. I was able to work summers at Olsson’s when I was just 14 years old, shelving books and helping customers. I felt like a VIP. I would often get weird looks from employees — “Ohhh so you are Jim Tenney’s son…” Apparently dad did have quite a reputation at Olsson’s. I remember asking dad, what is that funny smelling cigarette in the company car ashtray? Apparently other people used his car during the day to make deliveries, riiiight dad =)

    The people who worked at Olsson’s were super-cool, down to earth, friendly and incredibly intelligent. You don’t find this caliber of people at just any brick and mortar store. It touches my heart to see former coworkers names among this blog and I wish you all well.

    It is a shame that in this day and age substance and style have been consumed by the greed machine, churning out soulless superstores. One day people will look back at what we had and what we’ve lost, and wonder - where did we go wrong? The passing of Olsson’s Books and Records is a sad day and a sign of dark days ahead. As the government bails out AIG to let their executives continue their lavish $400,000/weekend beach parties you have to wonder why a genuine good store like Olsson’s doesn’t get bailed out.

    Please keep sharing your Olssons experiences in this blog!!! And it would be great to hear from everyone.

    Nick Tenney

  108. Pete Tenney Says:

    There are not enough words or ways to thank John Olsson for everything he has done for my family over the years. John Olsson was generous and understanding, caring and loyal, a friend first and employer second. John was possessed of benevolence. My Grandmother loved John a great deal and was very thankful for the week long stays he allowed us at his beach house in Bethany. There are so many things about Olsson’s that went beyond the store. The reach and relationship with the communities it touched will be missed. The memories are invaluable. The lasting image, for me, will be at Georgetown. Toward the back, past the creaky steps and full-sized Johnny Cash poster. Past the water fountain and through a causeway of records. There in the glow of the neon Book Information sign sits Jim Tenney and John McDonald and upstairs in the mezzanine is Edith. The classical music is playing and light is streaming from the ceiling onto fiction. I’m there to catch a film at the Key with my Dad or maybe I’m there, green as can be, in my first job - making sure not to pack the books to tightly - allowing them to breathe. Those were grand times; a kid in the city, eyes wide on Jolt cola.

    I don’t have the words John, but I give thanks everyday for all you did for us.


  109. PL Says:

    What can replace the resource that introduced me to writers outside the bestseller list, to international writers such as Sandor Marai and Javier Marias? The big box stores don’t even carry their work. I went by the Dupont store on my way to work this morning. Walking up to the doors was like approaching a coffin at a wake. I feel like I’ve been kicked in the chest.

  110. Cate Hagman Says:

    I always used to say Olsson’s was more like a family, or perhaps a subculture, than a store. It was always about the people — people who loved ideas and books and music and movies — and it’s nearly impossible to quantify what all those hours together have meant to me.

    But I can at least take a stab. When I moved to Maryland, I so missed the give-and-take with customers back in Buffalo’s Record Theatre, and when I saw a “help wanted” sign at Olsson’s, I put in an application.

    It was soon clear I was not in Buffalo anymore. As part of my screening, I completed a test in the classical music department — i..e, product look-ups, recording recommendations, Name That Classical Work — and failed miserably when it came to the von Karajan set. But for some reason I was brought into a department that included staff members with nearly encyclopedic knowledge and comic timing to die for.

    And so began 17 years of life with Olsson’s, through fat years and lean. I tear up thinking of the Harry Potter madness, klezmer night at the old Bethesda store, a well-attended reading by the gracious P.D. James, and the night Howard Dean addressed an enthusiastic bipartisan crowd.

    And of course there were all those Gil Shaham albums, plus endless games of “Name That Tune” with Mr. Friedman.

    I can’t possibly do justice to all the great customers and co-workers who made it all possible, including the following Olsson’s alumni: Eliot Sternfeld, of the Leprechaun Lair; John Edward Niles, a true raconteur; Bill Lloyd (”Offer it up for the poor souls in Purgatory”); Joe Murphy; Randall Cross; Deana Karras; Bob Attardi; Richard Goines; and Craig Pearman.

    There is simply no substitute for the schmoozing and brainstorming and plain old patience and problem-solving that went into the workday at Olsson’s and connected us all with many a new work — and with each other.

    Many thanks to John Olsson, and to Alicia Greene for giving me a chance to write the blog. You have no idea how much that meant to me.

    Good night, Mr. Friedman, wherever you are.

  111. Roz B Says:

    My heart is broken by the loss of this wonderful bookstore. I just moved to the DC area two months ago and felt a little lost and out of place. When I found Olsson’s, I felt at home. I would stop in after work and spend some time picking my next read…I always felt relaxed and welcomed there.

    I am so sorry that the store is now closed. My thoughts are with the employees of Olsson’s and I hope that they can all get back on their feet soon.

    Thank you for being there.

  112. Charlie Young Says:

    The good news about Olsson’s is that the amazing people there will move on to other positions. Several had already found jobs elsewhere in the book business–including careers with publishers from New York to Los Angeles–and I hope others will stay in publishing or some aspect of this business. I hope to keep in touch with the many friends I’ve made through Olsson’s over the last 20 years as a rep calling on the stores.

    Besides the great book people at Olsson’s, the music departments were my all-time favorite (and I used to LOVE Giant Music during my George Mason University days). It’s great to see Paul Miller’s name here as I always enjoyed talking music with him during his Old Town days. I bought my first CD (the “brown album” by The Band) at the Georgetown store months before I actually owned a CD player, and I still remember finding Danny Gatton’s “Unfinished Business” LP at the Old Town store shortly after moving back to Virginia from New York twenty years ago.

    Olsson’s was remarkable in their support for local musicians from Danny Gatton to Eva Cassidy. Ms. Cassidy was featured on Olsson’s endcaps years before the BBC and Barnes & Noble discovered her music. That was the case with so many artists.

    I was lucky enough to help arrange some of the many author appearances at various Olsson’s stores in recent years including John Lithgow, Jay Leno and Marlo Thomas. I also enjoyed events featuring Helen Thomas, Kinky Friedman, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Cal Ripken, Silver Spring native comedian Lewis Black (whose high school PROM DATE dropped in unexpectedly for the event!), “Jeopardy” champ Ken Jennings, historian Douglas Brinkley, Erica Jong and many more. Nobody handled author appearances better than Olsson’s.

    Thanks again to Olsson’s for the many years of great music, fine books, and–most importantly–smart and helpful staff members. You will be missed but not forgotten.

  113. Barry Says:

    I can remember many of the specific books and records/CDs I bought at the Bethesda, Dupont Circle and 7th St stores. I know where the book and music subsections were and how the aisles felt. I have a dicount card good until August 31, 2009. I’m hanging on to it just in case.

  114. Robby Says:

    You guys have been a great neighbor and a great part of the community. I’m so sad to see you go :(

  115. Geof O'Keefe Says:

    For the sake of accuracy to correct something I said in my previous comment #359 above where I stated I began working at Olsson’s in Georgetown in 1975: as Johnny O points out, the store didn’t even open until July 4th, 1976, and after digging out my diary, my first day there was June 1st, 1977. Hey, what’s a couple of years between friends? The memories are great, even if the timeline’s a little purple hazy.

    In my defense, it was the 70s, and I guess it really does affect your memory.

  116. Leslie Says:

    I’ve been reading the responses since I heard that Olsson’s closed. So sad! I didn’t think I was going to post anything because I didn’t want to fall prey to the cliches of how important Olsson’s was to me, and all of the people I met there. But sometimes cliches are the only way to go, and seeing all the names of people I used to know, and reading their posts has made me want to join them. I remember when I interviewed with Virginia at the Old Town store, fresh out of college with my English Lit. degree (what else did one do with an English Lit. degree but get a job at Olsson’s?) in the early 90’s. She asked me why I wanted to work at Olsson’s, and I told her with the sureness that one only seems to have right out of college that it was because I wanted to own my own bookstore some day. Thank you for not laughing at my naivete, Virginia! But I’m a librarian now, so I almost have my own bookstore. I worked at both the Old Town store, and then the Dupont store during the 90’s. What a great time! What wonderful people!! I learned so much about music, books, life. Thank you all!!

  117. Nick Wineriter Says:

    Sure will miss Olsson’s!
    I remember a film presentation a year or two ago on Ian McKewan’s new book. Great film and discussion afterwards.
    At the old Warehouse Theatre .
    Why do great places have to close??
    (Still miss tending bar at Duke Zeibert’s!)

    Nick Wineriter
    Head Bartender
    Rock Creek Restaurant
    Friendship Heights
    Freelance writer/photographer

  118. Fran Connor Says:

    My my–seeing Jo Ando’s name takes me back…where’ve you been, man?

    It’s always around this time of year that I start getting Olssons nostalgia–the Fall books coming out, the holiday catalog, customers returning after the summer doldrums…I have a lot of fond memories of working there, and I’m happy to have worked alongside some of the coolest people on earth. And most importantly, I still have the Johnny Cash poster from the Georgetown store.

  119. Chris Says:

    Moving here 20 years ago, I was gratefully amazed to discover the Olsson’s group, and I want to thank the buyers and sales staff for a job well done. The quality of the selection was always excellent. Best wishes for the future.

  120. Shelly Webb Says:

    Like response #364, I have a $50 gift certificate - anything I can do?

    Thanks for all of the great years you served the DC area -
    I’ve bought books, tapes, lp’s, cd’s, cards, dvd’s, etc. from Olsson’s
    over the past 35 years. The store will be missed.

  121. Richard Aboulafia Says:

    This is a serious blow for book lovers, and for the Dupont Circle neighborhood. I’ll miss doing my holiday shopping there every year, and I’ll miss stopping there on my way home. There was always a great selection, and smart, well-informed people.

  122. Danielle Says:

    I still have about $50 in gift certificates to Olsson’s because it was my favorite place to spend money. Any idea how I can use those gift certificates now that my favorite book store is closed??

  123. Karl Johnson Says:

    R.I.P. from a Savile alumnus

  124. Ted Pulliam Says:

    I read about the closing last week while on vacation. Stopped by this morning at the Old Town store just to see if it was really true, and unfortunately it was. Olssons has been a favorite since we moved back here in 1980 (and even before that when we lived here for a couple of years around 1972, then known, I believe, as the Book Annex). I have been stopping by the Old Town store about once a week for years to check on what new books might be out. I should have bought more of them. I will miss your stores and your friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful staff.

  125. Jeanne Olsson Christopher Says:

    I never thought the day would come when these stores would cease to exist. I knew even when I was the very young daughter of John Olsson that my Dad was doing important stuff while he was gone during the days.
    When I was old enough to truly appreciate just what he’d built and accomplished, the pride I had in being his daughter was profound. I always let people know that this was not a man who created a business to get rich. Not my Dad! He grew up without plenty but that wasn’t where he got his drive. I believe he was supposed to major in law at Catholic U, but instead music became his major, as it had always been his passion. We all know how fortunate those few are that get to truly follow their passions and make a career of it. Well, look what my Dad got to do! He got to share his passion and knowledge, and was obviously lucky enough- as he would tell me- to find amazing people to work with him who also shared this passion, with people throughout the D.C. area for 36 years. Unbelievable. And I’m still as proud as a daughter can be of her Daddy. He’s still the best role model I could hope for…hell I’m still hoping I can be the kind of successful late bloomer he was! Wish me luck, because he doesn’t need it, he’s a very fortunate man indeed, as all of these beautiful testimonials have proved.
    Thanks for everything you have inspired and accomplished, Dad. Um, I’ll call you later.
    Jeanne ( JDL )

  126. Jackie Greenbaum Says:

    So sad to hear this! I grew up at the Georgetown store buying music and later frequented the Bethesda shop. Such a great staff and selection of products, such a great independent vibe. What a drag.

    my best to you all.

  127. Geof O'Keefe Says:

    Wow…a friend in the DC area called me yesterday (10/6) and told me the news. I was fairly matter-of-fact when I heard it; all the great indie stores are closing due to chain stores and the internet. But then…about twelve hours later while I was driving in my car, there were tears streaming down my face.

    For roughly a decade from 1975 through 1985, I worked at Olsson’s, first in Georgetown when it was Record & Tape Ltd./The Book Annex and later at the Old Towne, Alexandria location. I have so many incredible memories of the people I worked with at both locations. Georgetown was a non-stop party. The late Gordon Fletcher got me a job there, as he was managing Pentagram, a band I co-founded and was the drummer of. His sister Maria worked there as well. There are so many memories and people I remember…Paul D, Rusty B, Sonya B, Sheldon M, Ron Q, Martin, Panek, Gypsy, Diane, Pam E, Sue M, Carol G, even Henry Rollins working as the bag-check person at the door…the wild Georgetown street-party nights of Halloween and New Year’s, Sting wandering in to browse and kill time before his new band The Police was playing at the Bayou later that night…I could write a book!

    In addition to being the rock import buyer at a time of incredible musical changes — punk and New Wave were exploding — I also for a time did the deliveries between Georgetown and what was then the only other store at 19th and L Street, where I met Laura W, one of my closest friends to this day.

    Old Towne was a totally different vibe, very yuppie-chic with a 2nd floor coffee shop overlooking the Potomac River (which overflowed its banks and flooded the store a few times; that was a nightmare!). Paul D and Carol G came from Georgetown to work at this location, as well as Eric G, and while there met another dear friend Rob B.

    I’ve been in California for twenty years now, but the memories I have of the daze and nights at Olsson’s are fond, funny and never to be forgotten. It was the coolest job I ever had…

    John Olsson, if you’re reading this, sorry to see it go, but you ran a classy, fantastic company and I am proud to have been part of it. And say hi to your lovely daughter Laura for me.

  128. Patricia Garner Says:

    I was always happy to be in an Olsson”s. I think an independent bookstore is about the best thing any community can have. Whenever I travel to another city the first thing I look for is their independent bookstore. This is a huge loss for this community. I was saddened when the store in Bethesda closed but devastated when the I would no longer able to go to any Olsson’s.

    Thank you for many years of a wonderful place to go and a worthwhile place to spend money.

    I hope there is an interesting future for all of you involved.

  129. Paul DeBlois Says:

    In the 70’s, I worked at a chain record store at the Tysons Corner Mall. If I wanted to do any serious shopping, I’d go down to John Olsson’s Dupont Circle store where there were hundreds of rock import LPs, a classical section with bins labeled “Unjustifiably Neglected Composers of the 18th Century” and more books than I’d ever seen in one place. This was definitely the big leagues.

    Fast forward to the early 80’s. The mall record store was going belly up and I got a message from Sheldon Michelson asking if I was interested in working at John’s new Record & Tape Ltd and the Book Annex store in Old Town Alexandria. I’d finally been called up to the majors. That’s when I really started learning the book and music business.

    That was 26 years ago. I spent 18 years of my life working at Old Town, Metro Center and Georgetown alongside some remarkable co-workers. Olsson’s stores always seemed to attract a high proportion of fascinating and intelligent people both as staff and as customers. I learned the value of real customer service and also got an advanced education in human nature from both sides of the counter.

    And, like John and Candace, Eric and Kathy, Chris and Lynne, David and Suzanne and others, I met my wife Virginia at Olsson’s. Next year marks our 25th anniversary.

    Thank you John for the opportunity. And thanks to all for sharing their memories and thoughts

  130. Paul Miller Says:

    There is never enough to say about what made Olsson’s a special place. When I graduated from college, I took a summer job at Olsson’s that lasted more than ten years, and went up and down the ranks from cashier to manager and back again. Each week, I’d gladly fork over part of my paycheck for the chance to explore - from Louis Armstrong to Shostakovich, from the Bristol Sessions to the Beatles, from the Bible to Borges. The greatest thing was not necessarily the journey, but the opportunity to share it with customers and co-workers who were equally enthusiastic. If I try to thank all of the folks on both sides of the counter who made my life so much richer during the years that I worked there, I’ll never finish. Olsson’s represented not only an enterprise, but also a community that was rare and refined in itself - and that is something that will be truly missed. Thanks to John Olsson and those who had the courage to create the place, but also to all of you that visited it and made it special. It is something that I will be grateful for the rest of my life.

  131. Rick Says:

    What am I supposed to say about Olsson’s? What am I supposed to say about some of the best years of my life?

    And why does it always take a wake to bring folks together?

    This is for Jessica, and Werner, and Carolyn, and Candler, and Muriel, and Leah, and Ryan, and John McDonald, and Steve, and the rest of the crew. Apologies to names left off, obviously.

    I got hired because of book-learning and ended up being a record-store nerd. As far as low-paying, high-return jobs go, Olsson’s was and remains without parallel. Here are some things I remember:

    - The full-on honesty, the refusal to recommend shitty stuff, the earnestness of wanting someone to read “Gravity’s Rainbow” or listen to some particular Stanley Turrentine record I only got hipped to because Werner got us copies;

    - The excitement of putting something in TBO, since someone was finally persuaded to buy it from my recommendation, and the small-scale thrill of expanding circles of influence;

    - The long conversations with interested customers who knew more than I did, and taught me as much as I could ever hope to teach them;

    - The early mornings and late nights of retail work, which I hated and now remember with more fondness than I can place here;

    - The cigarette breaks, and backroom conversations, and discussions of ephemera into the night, counting change and getting it wrong and getting it right again, distracted by this new record I had to hear or this old one I’d missed;

    - The window displays, always an elaborate pain in the ass, and considering them from the brick curb as traffic swarmed around me;

    - Inventory night, christ;

    - Dan Savage, for some reason, and Garrison Keillor walking around, zombie-like, and Camper Van Beethoven with various punk-rock luminaries in attendance;

    - That guy who piled cd’s into his backpack and fled, and who Werner and I chased through the back alleys down past M Street, winding through traffic, and me thinking, “You don’t fucking steal from our place! It took me a long time to get that record; give it back!”

    - Joanne Collins, and Mr. Corbin, and Bret Saxe, and all the rest of the regulars, so idiosyncratic, so completely whole unto themselves, who made it what it was when I was there, and who I still think of.

    But mostly the people, you folks, the people who made the place go. Mostly the sense of camaraderie. “Like a family,” is all I can think of to say, drunkenly now reading this news. Friends, and lovers, and surrogate parents, and surrogate siblings, and fellow travelers who just wanted, more than anything else, to read a good book while something awesome played.

    It was fun, kids. Love and solidarity …

  132. Chris Siron Says:

    This news truly fills me with melancholy. I worked at the Georgtown store for nearly ten years in the great old building that was full of character AND characters. I feel so grateful to have worked among so many wonderful book and music lovers who had expertise to boot. It was such a unique place to
    work with so many eclectic tastes somehow complementing each other. It is dubious that the experience can ever be replicated. I am extremely appreciative of that crazy, educational journey.
    Many friendships were forged and I still keep in touch with some of the former Olssonites. I am happy to have met my lovely wife at Olsson’s and if that doesn’t double our Olsson’s anecdote quota I don’t know what does.
    Olsson’s had it’s share of melodrama, but in the end it was priceless. It is sad, but telling that Olsson’s was an irreplaceable instrument of knowledge and growth to many employees and customers.

  133. M Says:

    So what give me a excuse to go to B&N better customer service than Olssons

  134. Leo Heinzel Says:

    olssons was the best job i ever had!
    i’m bummed to see it go.
    i think i spent most of my paychecks at the store.
    endless random searches on the computer database.
    thats how i found out about P - Johnny Depps band with Gibby Haynes.
    (it rules)
    best of luck to all th’ folks.

  135. Candace Conway Says:

    The summer I was eleven, I walked into a cavernous space in Georgetown called Record & Tape, Ltd / The Book Annex and fell in love. I had never seen anything like it, my experience of bookstores limited to a few visits to B. Dalton at the mall. Here I am, 32 years later, and I’m still not over it. I began working full time at the Georgetown store after college. I never meant to stay so long, but the store had an undeniable grip on me. That first summer, I worked mostly evening shifts with a group of wonderfully eclectic people—Geordie, Chris Faatz, Kate, Marsha and many more. One of my jobs was to wake up Steven Wallace-Haines in a second floor storage room where he lay napping on a folding cot, resting from his work on the youthful Byron computer system. [one day I told my mother that Byron had died that afternoon, and she was understandably confused by my seeming nonchalance at a colleague's sudden death] When I began working more day shifts, I became friends with the Georgetown triumvirate—Jim Tenney, John McDonnell and Edith Kaye—and my future supervisor and friend Alicia Greene. Months became years and I couldn’t tear myself away. Even when I began working in a second floor office on author events and then ad production and anything-printed production, I’d visit the selling floor several times a day, check out the new arrivals, help a customer, or just hang out at the information desk for a few minutes. It was my own personal well of inspiration and enjoyment. I miss it still. So here I am at home, with boxes of my work around me, the Holiday Gift Guides, the newsletters, the Post and City Paper ads, the bookmarks and special order cards. Also here are my two children, tangible evidence of the collision between the two love affairs of my life—the store and its owner. How will I explain to them what it all meant to me? and how could it possibly end? But end it does, like all beautiful things. To everyone Olssons—I will miss you.

  136. John Olsson Says:

    The response has been quite overwhelming and definitely therapeutic. I thank everyone for their kind words about the stores. I would like, however, to point out something that has been overlooked. The person most responsible for our giant leap forward into the world of books is Jim Tenney. Jim Tenney owned the previous “Best Bookstore” in Washington, Saville Books. He started with us at our small bookstore on 19th Street—The Book Annex—and he moved to Georgetown when we opened there on July 4, 1976. I thought we had the best bookstore in Washington then, and my feelings were corroborated in the April 1987 issue of Washingtonian Magazine. It was a survey article by Linda Greider of Washington bookstores, and the writer decided that Olsson’s Books and Records is “in a class by itself.” Jim Tenney was in a class by himself. I think there was a general concensus among booksellers that Jim had no equal when it came to book buying and he continued as head buyer when we expanded to multiple locations in the coming decades.

    We could not have enjoyed all that success without you, Jim. Thank you.

    John Olsson

  137. Miriam R. Kramer Says:

    PS. Thanks also to the saintly duo of Peter C. and Paul M., although I never had the chance to work with either of you much. Your haphazard appearances were also part of the Overall Old Town Experience. >:)

  138. Miriam R. Kramer Says:

    After frequenting the Old Town store as a customer throughout the eighties and nineties, I started working for it part-time in 2004. One of the best things about starting during December was figuring out the intricacies of that persnickety and decidedly unpoetic old fart, Byron, (aka Methuselah) while calling holiday-harried managers every three seconds to help me get into the groove. Thankfully Tim, Rust, Chris, Sara, and others showed infinite patience in helping me re-adjust to MS-DOS. Byron and I eventually made peace, although it took time. He was just there, and you had to accept his idiosyncrasies and zippety-doo-dah scanners, just like our bizarre upstairs café in the back that until last year was open only maybe when the moon was full and when the random café owner/renter decided he needed to drag himself in to make mocha and moolah. Explaining that you had no clue when or if it was open was part of our store’s immense charm, along with wishing for a dollar every time someone tried to leave through the front door. “No, not that way….” You won’t get those touches at any other book store in the area. Our former waterfront warehouse has been a wonderful and atmospheric place to sell our products, despite the ever-present need to sandbag the building when Potomac River floods threatened to sink us in several feet of water. We always managed to make it through, despite a couple of hairy situations.

    Christmas was great and hectic fun because I got to talk customers’ ears off, ask them questions, and see what they piled up on our polished-pine counter. We had strong business because our long-time customers, who appreciated our knowledge of the product, would make sure to patronize us during the holiday season. During that December I plunged in and never looked back. I loved seeing people dash in on the 22nd-24th and buy all their presents in one fell swoop. Our customers were (and still are) a highly eclectic, tasteful, and interesting group of long-timers and tourists. I always enjoyed talking to them, getting to know them, and trading recommendations on great movies, books, and music. I also always wanted to install a disco ball at the back and give an extra-special prize to the customers who danced, but surprisingly management never followed up on my suggestion…. >:) Shame on you, and you know who you are!

    One of my favorite memories is working the last two Harry Potter parties and organizing hijinx, dress-up time, and good cheer upstairs with Vicki. We held quizzes for the kids and counted down until midnight. Along with other treats made by Vicki, my homemade Cockroach Clusters provided high fiber, regularity, and good times for all! I loved seeing kids so excited about the books that they would stay up until 12:00 am to stand in line, buy the newest installment, and rush home to read it overnight.

    Not for one nanosecond did I consider working at a big box store. (Options for staff now, however, are limited.) One reason for that, as many customers here have aptly noted, is that employees there sometimes don’t know, or care, anything about the product. I experienced that today when I went to one of them to buy a present and use up a store credit. The clerk had never heard of my book by Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram, and suggested that I try to find it by last name under Gregory, David, and Roberts. (!) No, I wanted to work at Olsson’s because it literally and figuratively rocked, and we loved the products we were selling. Who wouldn’t want to recommend that which feeds the human spirit? Very few retail products or outlets do that these days. In addition, like other retail outlets in Old Town, we welcomed our customers’ furry four-legged friends in abundance. I always knew that I would see at least one wonderful canine that would temporarily enrich my life as I offered it one of the biscuits from behind the register. Sonny, for example, would always bark when he came in to let us know, hey, get on the stick! It’s time for my snack, bucko! I also loved little Mikey, Sally’s Tibetan spaniel, among many others who visited during my time there.

    Pretty much everyone I ever worked with at Olsson’s over four years was a wealth of knowledge and a wonderful source of recommendations on anything I might need. Many have worked there for decades. I can thank Chris and Rust for some great and unusual Christmas presents for my music-loving family. Alex, Sara, and Andrew provided me with extra info on interesting books. I really loved writing marketing captions for the Holiday Gift Guide and then starting, thanks to Alex and Alicia, a book review column for the Old Town Crier newsmagazine, which has been very supportive of Olsson’s over a long period of time. I also enjoyed getting to know Ryan, Darius, Jimmy, and others at Dupont.

    Olsson’s has become a real and indispensable part of my life over the past four years. When I started another full-time job in Dupont Circle, I would sometimes browse the Dupont Olsson’s during my lunch hour and after work, along with keeping an occasional eye on the stock at Kramerbooks and Second Story Books. Olsson’s was my comfort zone, and I kept on working on the weekends and part-time at Old Town because I really didn’t want to leave. When I first heard the news that it had closed on September 30th, I was shocked and in tears, despite our recent difficulties. We truly had an amazing store, with great employee discounts and a really cool staff who always knew, to paraphrase Douglas Adams, where their towels were. That applied no matter which branch you visited.

    I am so very sad to see it go, because it has been a part of my life since I was in high school. I hope our former customers will start buying their books at places like Kramerbooks, which has great stacks, late-night music, and hours; Second Story Books, with its musty atmosphere, interesting stock, and great character; and Politics and Prose, which has a wonderful selection and a great author reading series. Think about buying your music at stores such as Melody Records in Dupont. They need you! Thanks also to you, our fabulous customers, who helped us survive as long as we possibly could; and to John Olsson, for creating a store in 1972 we could all be very proud of.

  139. steve pearcy Says:

    As a customer for a couple decades, plus a few years as an employee at the Dupont store, I am crushed. The Dupont and Georgetown stores were a place of refuge from the maddening crowd on the street, a place to stimulate my mind in books and music, and a place to help me figure out who I was. I found books there that have opened doors to me, music that has opened my spirit, and moments with staff and customers that remind me that there is still hope for the mind in a city of growing affluence. Why go to Dupont anymore? Childe Harold is closed, where I had my first legal drink in DC and my first date with my wife, as well as countless wonderful evenings with friends and strangers. The movie theaters on almost every block are closed, which for me were palaces of dreams that showed me different lives and stories from around the world. And now Olssons, where people knew books and music came to find it. The Gotham Book Mart in NYC closed relatively recently too, and it used to have a sign outside: Wise Men Fish Here. It could have been outside Olssons, and now it is gone. Thank you John Olsson for creating it, all the folks that worked there, both the strangers that helped me as a customer and my colleagues that I enjoyed: Werner, John, Carolyn, Candler, Rick, Penny, Ryan, Muriel, Mirelle, and everyone whose name I forgot, and all the other people that came there to feast on the written word and musical note that was spread so abundantly on the table that was Olssons.


  140. Renan Says:

    As president of the Olsson’s fan club, it’s with a tear I write my last epistle. Olsson’s was a tremendous and gracious store filled with music geeks and book nerds and the better for it. I probably loitered there more than I bought, but I was always welcomed and eager to hear the staff’s recommendations. To all of Lacey’s coworkers- you are the best and keep in touch.

  141. Mike Livingston Says:

    The nation’s capital just got a whole lot dumber.

  142. takek68 Says:

    What a blow. I loved stopping in at the Old Town location and found a lot of great music there. I hate to see it coming to an end. Blessings and peace to you all. -O

  143. leah Says:

    I had just recently become a customer at the Old Town location, and introduced my college student to Olssons. My daughter and I loved browsing through the books, and seeing your canine customers enjoy the atmosphere. I stopped by a few days ago and was very upset to see the sign on the door. It was a one-of-a-kind bookstore that will be sorely missed.

  144. francis e. yates Says:

    Another great institution crushed by the corporate bohemoths,USA, who are corroding and poisoning the slowly dying American culture. When there is no neighborhood environment and spirit in our far-flung communities what will satisfy and enrich us? Our soul-destroying jobs? Our gossip-filled mass media? Our electronic gadgets which isolate us from one another? Our society is in danger of becoming one great hotel or prison.

  145. Nancy Marwin Says:

    I loved browsing through the books in your store at Courthouse and always received knowledgeable assistance and suggestions from your staff. I’m sad that your store is closing and that probably only the large nationwide chains can survive in the current economic climate. Thank you for your wonderful store.

  146. Lynne Parks Says:

    Georgetown - Remember when Gabriel Garcia Marquez came in and bought Oliver Sacks’ “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat?”

  147. Carter Lively Says:

    My trips to Alexandria will not have a homey nucleus to orbit around!

  148. Victor Gaberman Says:

    It’s the people. From Bob Bialek (when I worked at Discount) to John Niles to Ted Richards to Brooke Higdon, I got a Ph.LP in classical recordings. From Peter Deoudes, I got the blues and I got it bad. From Eddie Janney, I got the Slits and Wire. Mark Kitch taught me about Northern soul and rock steady from Studio One. From Tony White, Big Star and so many more. All the Balkan wedding band music, Peruvian pop, Nigerian Juju and anything in between: I’d have never known except for Olsson’s and all the people I worked with and customers who encouraged me to know enough to serve them well. The celebs I tried so hard not to fawn over when they came into shop. Even Mike Tyson came in once. The in-stores, where the artist was invariably late. I served Dizzy Gillespie frozen yoghurt with salt peanuts when he came in to sign his autobiography. Having drinks with Bill Buckley (drinking doubles) thanks to the publisher. Helping Tom Clancy pick out military march music. Schlepping the entire contents of the old Dupont store across the street and back again. Opening 12th & F, then Lansburgh. I spent nearly a third of my life running reg, checking polys, scarring my fingers on those plastic cassette holders, picking TRL’s. A universe of reading I’d have never otherwise known. A place where I could sate my jones for Klima, Kundera and Hrabal. John McDonnell manning the desk with his usual aplomb. Hanging at Mr. Egan’s. So many friends, so many stories. It felt like the center of the thinking person’s universe: Anything you wanted to know was somewhere in the store. Never before or since have I found a place with so many smart, weird, talented and wonderful people. I miss it like a veteran misses his old army outfit. A sad day indeed to see it end.

  149. Marc Says:


    I remember the first time that I had visited one of your stores. I was meeting a friend in Dupont Circle when I had moved to the Rosslyn Va area and I was becoming familiar with the greater Virginia, Washington DC area and I had gone to your Dupont store….it was my first experience going into a independent book store. It was a comfort to go into a venue with so much personality…it was refreshing. That was about 15 years ago. Time had gone by and eventually I met a girl named Jeanne….your daughter. I will have been married to Jeanne, your daughter for 6 years now.
    John, you have worked very hard all your life and accomplished so many great things. I’m proud of You and proud to be part of everything that you have worked hard for.


    Marc (your son-in-law)

  150. Lori P. Says:

    My husband drove the Olsson’s white box truck and I worked at the office. Today, at the end of our last ride together, we spotted something unusual at the side of the road. It was a beautiful albino squirrel. Luckily, it hung around long enough for Mr. Olsson to see it also. This white squirrel symbolizes what Olsson’s was to us. Rare and vulnerable to predators , but known only to those who have experienced it.

    Thank you, John Olsson, for the 25 years between Michael and me and for enabling us to raise another reader and music lover in this world, our son Milo.

  151. Jeff Wilkinson Says:

    I moved to Alexandria 20 years ago. One of the first places I visited was Olssons. The anxiety of leaving my birthplace lifted because I felt as if I had walked into a new home–a home where I was affirmed, a home where a surprise awaited me at every corner, and a home I just knew would always be there. Well, the fairy tale has come to a close; the wicked witch of the west has claimed my paradise. Thank you, Olsenns, for all that you have done for me. You were my everything!

  152. John Driscoll Says:

    I’m very sorry to see you go. I consistently found things in your carefully chosen selection that I did not see in other bookstores. I will miss you.

  153. Sara Krauss Says:

    I’ve been laughing & crying at the wonderful tributes everyone has been writing this past week. So many familiar names……
    I worked nearly seven years for Olssons-a few months at the late great Georgetown store as a clerk and the remainder at the Old Town Location as a manager. I will always remember the wonderful, creative people I worked with and the always interesting customers who would to try to challenge us with the little information they had about a particular book or CD…..and watch them be amazed when we could track it down.
    Thanks and love to you all.

  154. David Palmeter Says:

    A sad day, for you, for us, and for Washington. I have been a customer since before you were Olsson’s. My office on H Street was just around the corner from Record & Tape Ltd, and I remember how happy I was when you added the Book Annex. Thanks for many happy years and many wonderful books, records, tapes and CDs.

  155. Veronika Jenke Says:

    Oh dear! The Court House area will not be the same without the opportunity to come to the Olsson store. The neighborhood will miss you terribly.

  156. Phil Stewart Says:

    Goodbye Olsson’s, sadly! I’ve shopped many times at your Dupont Circle store, and I always appreciated the fact that you were a local chain, staffed by friendly and knowledgeable people. It was fun reading your staff reviews of the books.

    I was a little alarmed to see an apparent drop-off in foot traffic at your store as the decade has gone by, and always wished I could get home from work earlier so I could get to more of the readings you hosted.

    I won’t get a chance to buy one of those books about comics you had displayed recently, now.

    With your passing, the neighborhood feels that much less real, and that much more like a Potemkin Village vaunting prosperity as the soul of the society is drained away into some remote corporate vault, or down a hole. There are other independent bookstores here still, but you will be missed.

    Good luck to all of you.

  157. Jamie Parker Says:

    I have many good memories regarding the Old Town Alexandria store.

    I bought my first cassette tapes there during 7th grade from the bargain bin of “nice price” offerings. One of these - before I had absolutely any idea what the song/album was about - was Legalize It by Peter Tosh. In any “case” (sorry), many of my early, independent music-buying experiences happened at Olsson’s. This was before online track samples, so one was often taking more of a risk when purchasing music. What would the chosen music really sound like when I removed the plastic wrap & listened on my Walkman-type tape player? Exciting!

    Olsson’s was a place where I spent a lot of time on the weekends while a student at George Washington Junior High School. Before in-store computers like Muze and the Internet, I Iearned a lot about my favorite artists by thumbing-through LP’s & reading all the cassette spines at Olsson’s. I might be wrong about this, but I think that Olsson’s was the record store where I first saw import recordings on sale. For a young musician like myself, these never-ending Olsson’s rambles were totally absorbing.

    A lot of these long-winded scans of Olsson merchandise where sandwiched in-between visits with friends, mostly at night on Fridays or Saturdays, to other Old Town establishments of that time, e.g., the Record Mart, the Small Mall, Haagen Daz, & John Crouch, Tobacconist. Very exciting!

    I became interested in the selection of books at Olsson’s as I got older. One could always rely on finding a stimulating, if at times unusually scholarly assortment of reading there, which, like the music inventory, was always well-organized. I believe that I bought some lesser known Steinbeck & Salinger works at Olsson’s. As with the recording artists I liked back then, I had to read everything that these authors had published, and Olsson’s was certainly more than able to support my behavior.

    Thanks to John Olsson and the many Olsson’s employees over the years for all of the above!

    Jamie Parker
    T.C. Williams Class of 1993

  158. prescrunk Says:

    but I still have a gift certificate from last xmas!

  159. Tom Dickey 1985 Says:

    The Knowledgable work force is still present.

    So what is needed is a store front large enough to add - -

    – a movie theater, like the inovative Landmark,
    – a restaurant,
    – a drink bar (juice, tea, coffee, cocktail,)
    – a cooking class
    – an internet cafe’,
    – a game arcade, AND
    – BOOKS printed by Non-Olssons, e.g. (www.booklocker.com)
    – BOOKS digital by Non-Olssons
    – BOOKS printed by Olssons
    – BOOKS digital by Olssons,
    – BOOKS audio by Olssons,
    – Music recorded Non-Olssons on media
    – Music recorded Non-Olssons Mp3
    –Olssons Recording studio
    –Live Music

    –Web performance art (You-tube) and Web-Pay-Per-View
    —- Author interview series,
    —- Musical Artist Concert
    —- Cooking from Famous Cookbooks

    ALL ROLLED INTO Olssons 2.0

    . . . . . . . . . . . How’s that for a better mouse trap.

    Didn’t that theater space adjascent to Olsson’s DuPont become available ?

    2:20 PM Friday 03 October 2008

  160. Deborah D. Says:

    For 12 years you were the provider of my reading and listening needs. Gift cards from co-workers and/or friends/family were the only reasons to visit the big box stores, where junk and garbage are wedged in with quality materials that in turn make it nearly impossible to find anything of merit.

    Gone now are the truly knowledgeable staff so capable of recommending, describing, and even discussing the various words and sounds within their walls.

    Where else could you purchase five or so books that just happened to catch your interest and you confess, they will join the stack(s) at home, of those I’ve yet to read, and know that the shake of the head in the affirmative tells of the stacks the staff have at their homes. Big box workers rarely read; they simply want a paycheck, and it shows.

    Yes, Dupont Circle has lost more than a wonderful retailer; it is that much closer to becoming just another area of DC that only caters to whatever is in vogue at the moment. With an attitude of “damn the consumers, quantity over quality, lots-o money ahead, it is the consumers who have lost - and unfortunately, so many consumers (those big box shoppers) have no idea what has been lost.

    What about Olssons On-Line? I’d sure shop there!

  161. chad evans wyatt Says:

    Long ago, there was Record and Tape at the corner of 19th and L. King of the Store was an improbable apparition called “TP”, who knew absolutely everything about jazz recordings. I could easily cart away 50 LP’s, most recommended by TP’s archival knowledge. Example, Thelonious Monk’s recording of Ellington compositions, absolutely essential to the canon. I confirmed TP’s authenticity, because among several of our family friends in 1950’s NYC were Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Often, TP had releases ready for my arrival.

    In recent times, we’ve frequented the Dupont Circle store faithfully for first look. Never disappointed. Staff ready always to help, content to allow us to browse. Utterly hip people. Important to acknowledge they also were are among the most creative artists within the DC experience, canaries in the mineshaft. Things seemed discoverable there that we found nowhere else.

    Now all memory of a shining experience that few today will know. Please crowd Politics and Prose, Kramer’s Books, keep those wonderful stores everlasting.

    Chad Evans Wyatt

  162. Keri Says:

    Olsson’s has been a beloved part of Old Town for as long as I can remember–Alexandria won’t be the same without you.

  163. REY DECASTRO Says:

    The end of another independent bookstore is undeniably sad, but what does this say about the Washington community of readers? Accepting that Olsson’s management was reasonably competent and that web-based distribution erodes sales, are we to understand that demand from Washington readers is insufficient to keep a regional independent bookstore going? Other, smaller, less important cities have kept independent bookstores going, so what are about in Washington, DC? Just a thought for discussion.

  164. Beth Says:

    I fondly remember the smell inside the Georgetown store, where I nervously stood waiting for the clerk to find for my book order, greek drama for one, required reading as I entered high school. Over the years, Olssons has always been the place I looked to for ordering anything I couldn’t find anywhere else. It’s sad to see another Washington institution disappear, but thanks so much for all the great years!

  165. Old Town Suzy Says:

    I will miss the Old Town Alexandria store….

    What will be done with all the cool ’stuff’ & books there?

    I am interested in purchasing some.

    I looked in the window….everything is still there!

    Including the stacks of newspapers…City Papers….mail..
    outside the front door…perhaps the mail carriers should be notified?

  166. Sara Says:

    I am devastated by this news. I am at a complete loss for what to say. Thanks for hanging in for so long, even when the profits weren’t there…

  167. Chuck Bashara Says:

    Gosh, I’m going to miss you guys. Buying at Olson’s had been a joyous routine for me for over twenty years. I’ll still hold out hope of seeing Olsson’s return in its new incarnation. We need it in this town. Good luck to all.

  168. Lynne Parks Says:

    I loved working at Olsson’s. When I was in college, I worked summers at Dupont Circle and after I graduated, I spent three years at the Georgetown store. Book clerk to Book Receiver to Asst. Music Manager, I left at the end of ‘98. I have yet to encounter another concentration of people as intelligent and knowledgeable as the Olsson’s staff (and the amusing and fun eccentricities that accompany such minds). My time there was world-expanding and I discovered many of my favorite authors and musicians. All of my co-workers, several of them still friends, are stamped indelibly in my memory and I recall them with much affection. I met my husband and worked with him at Olsson’s - we’ve been happily together for twelve years. I will not forget that my time there established many of the key elements of my life. I look at my book and music shelves and I think of how Olsson’s resides there palpably and how it contains the presence of my Olsson’s family - the recommendations and the shared loves… and gawd knows we could argue the merits and/or weaknesses of a work endlessly. I still have the certificate Smithsonian Folkways sent me for selling so many copies of The Anthology of American Folk Music. Work at Olsson’s was a passionate endeavor for us all.
    Also, I will never forget the decency Olsson’s showed in hiring a young woman fresh out of the hospital with a face-disfiguring surgery.
    It is a profound cultural and personal loss.
    Lynne Parks

  169. Ruel J. Eskelsen Says:

    This is a huge blow to lovers of neighborhood bookstores.

    I frequented the Dupont Circle and Penn Quarter stores and the old Metro center store when it was open.

    Thank you Olsson’s and all the staff for the great service.

  170. David Landau Says:

    This was very sad news indeed. During my 11 years of residing in the DC area, Olsson’s was a constant refuge. After moving to Los Angeles and becoming a book publisher, I was able to work with the Olsson’s staff in producing book events. You folks were invariably friendly and capable. I’ll always be grateful for that. And I’m glad for the successes you had. It was a marvelous run. You deserve all the happiness that comes your way.

  171. Terry Koniarski Says:

    Sorry that you had to shutter your doors … will you be able to offer anything on the web? We will miss your bookstores. Hope springs eternal and we would love for you to make a comeback!

  172. Ian Doherty Says:

    This is a sad day indeed. as a sales rep and selling to the many wonderful people since 1995, you will all be missed. The memory I will take with me is all the special dinners we had when I had brought authors into Town. There were some famous ones, but most were just starting out and olssons peoeple were wonderful at everyone. They read the book, even if they did not like it, and talk with our authors. Hope all land in publishing and I will have a chance to see you all again

    Cheers to all for the many years, very happy ones.

    Good friends in deed

  173. ER Says:

    This is sad news. Olssons and staff, we will miss you very much.

  174. Dale Says:

    I started going to Olsson’s as a student at Georgetown - kept going after graduating - definitely one of my favorite places to be in Washington, DC - an institution as important as any.

  175. Joanne Collings Says:

    I still forget that my mother, who died on Christmas Eve, is no longer living in my hometown in South Jersey. I’ve only recently not wondered what would be opening this week at the Dupont movie theater; it closed on January 13th. Now Olsson’s is gone, which I’ve patronized since I moved here twenty-three years ago, where I turned up at least once a week without fail for the last nine years.

    I didn’t get all my books at Olsson’s, just most of them. Other women accumulate shoes and purses; for me, it’s books. I belong to book clubs and I usually visit Barnes & Noble at least once a week before we go to E Street for a movie. I go to the Borders across from the Mazza several times a year, though usually what I ‘m looking for there was their sidelines. I’ve been known to order books online.

    I live on Capitol Hill and have done so all our years in the District, but considered the Olsson’s Dupont store my neighborhood bookstore. I talked up their service, their ability to combine what was best about being independent with what was best about being a chain, their bonus certificate program, and their great, great staff to anyone who was interested in books.

    Thinking about the staff makes me want to cry: all these great people who were part of my life. I always knew I would weather any staff change there, no matter how much I regretted seeing many of them go to new jobs, because they were always replaced by people I also liked and who were wonderful to deal with. I will miss them so, so much.

    I will survive this; there are, after all, other places to buy books, but it will never be the same. Some of the staff at the Barnes & Noble recognize me now; they know I am there every weekend. But no one calls me by name and books are never discussed, only whether they have what I am looking for and where I can find it. Yes, they, like Olsson’s, fetch it for me, but that feels more like sales than service, to be truthful. I’ve never ordered a book there and don’t think I will start doing so now. Those days are over for me.

    I used to interview local writers for a local newspaper. For a long time, one of the questions I always asked them, but seldom used, was what their favorite bookstore was. The majority always said Politics & Prose, which is why I only used the answers when something unusual was noted. Yes, Olsson’s, including my Olsson’s, also got votes, but it was so nearly a given that writers—with some good reason, I suspect—would pick P&P that I finally dropped the question.

    I’ve never been to Politics & Prose; we don’t have a car and it’s not close to either the Metro or a movie theater. I’m glad it’s there, but it doesn’t need my business.

    Now that Olsson’s is gone so are our reasons for going to Dupont Circle. This is especially sad because it was the first neighborhood we explored beyond our own when we came here. But all the movie theaters are gone and, now, my bookstore. So the restaurants we visited there will have one less table filled and the dying of the once lively Circle will continue.

    I didn’t find out that Olsson’s was closed because I get their weekly newsletter, or because I read about it in the paper or online, or through word-of-mouth. I learned it because a staff member called me Tuesday morning to let me know: great service to the end. I’m devastated, bereft, distraught; it’s like having a close friend die or being punched, hard. Reading has always been solitary, but buying books was a social experience I will now greatly miss.

  176. Brian Murphy Says:

    It’s amazing and disheartening to realize that one of America’s most important cities could not sustain an independent chain of this caliber. I was drawn to Olsson’s when I moved to Washington in 1994 and consider myself fortunate to have worked part-time in the Bethesda store over the next 2 years. The staff and managers I knew - Chuck, Adam, Elliot, Bill, etc. - were like characters from a Nick Hornby novel and working there always made me feel somehow more “authentic” in the sense that I became connected to Important Things - art - that I’d otherwise have never known about. Several of my CDs still have the small white sticker on them that identified them as part of the personal trove that I played in the store…many of which were acquired days earlier in the same store. (Most cherished of these is Leon Parker’s Above & Below, which never failed to sell when I played it in the store.) I suppose nostalgia will be the dominant emotion when I see them now.

    Over the years, I purchased something from every Olsson’s location except Crystal City…though I confess that I too found the convenience of Amazon (or even B&N at the mall) difficult to resist. Still, I believe that, advances in computerized algorithms notwithstanding, we are a LONG way off from replacing the simple ability of one knowledgeable clerk to help a curious customer enrich his or her life with a well-conceived recommendation. That’s what I’m mourning tonight.

    I only found out about the closings when I went to Courthouse today to purchase a book as a gift. (Of course, B&N was “sold out” when I went there afterward — is that really the only bookstore left in Arlington??!?) The tides of progress will wipe away all traces of Olsson’s soon enough, but the memories will endure. Always.

    Thanks and best of luck to John and everybody else involved in making this fine company a part of Washington, DC for so many years.

  177. David Mohan Says:

    Some of my best memories are of working at Olsson’s Dupont with Brooke, Tony, Leslie, Heather, Kim, Elle, Eric, Ben and Greg. I learned so much about music from Brooke and Tony. It never surprised me that whatever new CDs Tony would play would suddenly be the big hits at Lawson’s Deli two doors down. And where else would I get to recommend a rave tape to Andrew Sullivan or take a special order for Rita Braver? Of all the companies I’ve worked for, Olsson’s was the one I loved the most.

  178. Frances Madeson Says:

    Last year, in the last days of September, I read from my debut novel, Cooperative Village, at the Dupont Circle store. My heart rate accelerated upon seeing my satire on the PATRIOT Act next to works by John “cancer on the presidency” Dean and journalist Mike Sager in the enormous picture window. Inside, it was an amazing reunion of old friends from the years that I lived in DC during the Carter and Reagan administrations. Though no longer young, everyone was still exceedingly beautiful, maybe even more so for having made it through what has not been an easy time in this country! Though I was nervous, the store soon filled with laughter, and the years melted away, even as our laugh lines got a work out. Thank you so much for the happy night. May it redound to you all many times over. May we all be in a better place, a better America, next year.

  179. D Anton Says:

    I can’t believe it. I so much enjoyed your service and attention to the the customer. My holiday shopping will not be the same without you!!

  180. daddy sir Says:

    rusty, thanks for helping us find the NWA tape. daddy

  181. Patty D. Says:

    So sorry to hear the news. A friend and I chose Olsson’s (first Bethesda, then Courthouse) as the place to go to buy each of the last three Harry Potter novels on the night when they were released at the stroke of midnight. Where are we going to go for Jo Rowling’s future books?

    Please, everyone, support other independent bookstores, even if it’s too late for Olsson’s.

  182. Anna Dellermann Says:

    I’m heartbroken. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of visiting Olsson’s with my dad, and just this past spring I took my nieces to the Old Town store and got to watch as they wandered around, wide-eyed, just as I did thirty years ago. Having transplanted myself far from my D.C. roots, still I always looked forward to an Olsson’s trip whenever I went back “home.” It’s horrible to think that my last visit was exactly that - the last. It feels as though I didn’t have the chance for a proper goodbye.

  183. jbd Says:

    Your staff has been wonderful to me for decades. They have had books mailed overseas and, while I have been in Washington, given wonderful music recommendations and filled many orders. Eliot Sternfeld was a great resource for classical music education — a brain filled with endless tidbits and offbeat insights; Russell, his most recent successor, has been wonderfully successful too. It seems like all the great companies have to struggle to survive, and often don’t make it, while the mediocre ones with a minimalist approach to customer service and no visible passion for their profession and scant competence thrive. There’s something backwards about that.

  184. Jeff McCasland Says:

    This is lousy news. I was an Olsson’s employee back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. There was life and death and music and poetry and love and hate all writ large among the very unique cast of workers. I am truly sorry that this place where so many people could get to know each other and grow up and (eventually) out is now no more.

  185. Kevin Kirby Says:

    I’ve been shopping at Olsson’s for 30 years or so–first as a place to hang out in Georgetown when visiting my father’s office and later when the Courthouse location opened near my apartment. The staff were always wonderful, the in store events (They Might Be Giants!) fantastic and the inspirations for Christmas gifts many and varied.

    Goodbye Olsson’s, you’ll be missed.

  186. Yosef Edelstein Says:

    What sad news. Your stores are (were????) wonderful, and I always enjoyed browsing and buying.
    All the best in your future endeavors.

  187. Anne Smart Says:

    This is so sad. Olsson’s was my cure for lackabookaphobia - right across the street from my office. I found all the tried and true authors and discovered new ones, found great music in the bargain bin, and bought I don’t know how many great presents for friends and family. If I had a question, I could ask any of the staff and they would always assist - it was comforting to feel they had read as many or probably more books than I had and knew what they were talking about. When I was looking for that certain something - excellent travel writing that took me to Paris, biographies that brought their subjects to life, novels that explored other worlds, Olsson’s was the place. It is sad to think that we are now left with homogenized bookstores that are so alike you can’t tell one from another. We will miss you, Olsson’s.

  188. Robin Gray Says:

    This is devastating news, though not entirely a surprise. Are we to lose ALL the wonderful independent bookstores? I’ve lived in the area only 2.5 years but found Olssons in Dupont right away. Loved the film rental selection too. The last book I bought from you was The Savage Garden…though I didn’t know it would be the last.
    Best of luck to all of you. ~R.

  189. Dzovig Vertanesian Says:

    Desolated wrote:
    I started working at the old Dupont store in July 1985 along with Tony White after Peaches closed…I worked there till Dec. 1995. I made so many friends there, including all the Discord musicians that worked there and performed at Food for Thought. I am so saddened that Olssons has closed. It really was a great place to work, especially for a boss that really cared for you and it truly was a second family for me….
    If there is a closing or reunion party, please be sure to let me know…Adieu….

  190. Gary Says:

    One of the best reasons to fly in or out of Reagan was because of the Olsson’s store at the airport. You could pick up something interesting, zip through security, and be on your plane in seconds. Or after a long trip, I’d stop in there to get a magazine or book. Looks like all we’re left with is Borders Box Store.


  191. Carolyn Martin Says:

    “You work at Olsson’s?” always asked wistfully with a tinge of envy. Yes, I did at Dupont for eight years for the likes of John Sherer, Candler Hunt, Scott Linder, Werner Paul, and Ryan McGovern. Humbling to realize how not well read I was and how little I knew about music, but fortunate to learn something new every day, especially from recommendations from our customers. Regulars were like family (Ms. Collings, Mr. Dwyer, Ms. Krouk, Mr. Perkins, Ms. Evans, Ms. Flint, and Mr. Buenaventura, among others). Mr. Saxe stopping by on the way home became part of the nightly routine, a signal to us to help folks find last minute purchases and start shutting out the lights. Even though Mr. Corbin is no longer with us, I always half expected to hear his voice on the phone, “Is Mister Werner there?” and to stop in and make a jazz purchase for his grandson. I will always remember Mr. Bifano’s farewell tour of the store before he left for Afganistan. We always looked forward to the Saturday evenings with Joanne and Randy. And Mr. Jordan, I was right about the Sam Cooke CD, wasn’t I? Cheeky moments approaching authors on their day off and asking them to sign stock before they left, or telling clerks from other stores, “I thought I told you never to call me here…” Will miss the kids the most–Penny, Jimmy, Laura, Darius, Stephanie, Ama, Bobby, Malaika, and the many generations of assistant managers and clerks that I had the pleasure of working with over the years. You were right to be envious. It was the best job, the best people, the best customers. Even the dust had it’s own special something. Read to your kids, listen to something new (or old but new to you), and share the wealth of books and music with the world. It will be better for it.

  192. Rachel Cameron Says:

    Say it ain’t so! The book megastores are so depressing. Olsson’s staff really knew books. I recall a time when I walked into an out-of-town Borders and asked what section I might find Anne Fadiman’s “Ex Libris” in. The clerk asked me to spell the title. Then he spent about 10 minutes looking it up in the database (and of course after all that there were no copies on the shelf). When I got home and went to Olsson’s Dupont, the salesperson walked right up to the correct shelf and pointed me to no fewer than three copies in stock. You just don’t find bookstores like that, staffed by people who actually know books. Olsson’s, you rocked.

  193. Chuck Wendel Says:

    So sad. So sad. I began shopping at Discount Books & Records in the early 1970s and continued to shop at Olsson’s, particularly the Old Town store since 1990. The number of suggestions regarding books and music, jazz especially, that I received is beyond my memory. Nowhere else could I have had that experience. Through Olsson’s, I got to meet Hunter S. Thompson, and in later years, his widow. I was always looking to be surprised when going into the store. It will be a sad Christmas without the holiday catalog. Thanks for everything.

  194. Michael Pigott Says:

    A really sad day for the concept of the REAL BOOKSTORE, whose main goal is not just to push stuff out the door but is instead to connect customers with books, writers and music they may never otherwise experience. I fondly remember the Gtown store, and many hours spent listening to CDs, browsing the back racks, and going through the staff recommendations. It will be sorely missed.

  195. John Says:

    Olsson’s was a key ingredient in my 5 years living in Washington. I spent many an hour in various Olsson’s locations, from Montgomery County to Penn Quarter and the Airport to Old Town. Thanks for a great experience and sorry to see it end.

  196. Janet Irwin Says:

    Another long-time customer and fan. Olssons was my favorite bookstore since 1984, and was always so much more than just a bookstore. Our region is definitely poorer without you. Good luck to everyone and thanks for everything.

  197. Amber Says:

    When i walked by the Olsson’s at Courthouse yesterday (across the street from my office and a frequent stop on the way home) i thought it was odd that the security bars were pulled at 5 p.m. Now i know why and it’s heartbreaking. I wish i had known ahead of time and could have stopped in for one last meander through the store…now i’ll have to go to B&N for books on my lunch break?! A travesty. Anyone know of any–ANY–other good indie bookstores in the Arlington area? I could use a pick-me-up now…..phfyrebyrd@gmail.com

  198. R. Davis Says:

    Olsson’s was one of my first finds on moving to D.C. after college, and I will miss its excellent reading recommendations and fun, spunky selection of books.

  199. Wendy Lyon Says:

    Oh, my God, this is so sad. In a lot of ways I grew up in Olsson’s - first as a customer from my early teens, then as an employee in the Rockville store and buying department (1989-1993). My years as import/alternative buyer remain one of the high periods of my life - I have, from time to time, wished I never left! (I worked at Tower for a while too and believe me I was nowhere near as sorry to hear that they shut down … )

    Sorry for repeating such a stupid cliché, but genuinely, thanks for the memories.

    I just can’t believe it. This is so sad.

  200. Paul Cabarga Says:

    I first worked with John Olsson at the old Discount Record and Books in 1965. I later managed the Book Annex at 19th and L in the mid 70s. John is one the most straight-up decent people it’s ever been my pleasure to work with. His shops were a reflection of the man. John - if you see this message - I know I don’t have to remind you to be proud of your career - but be assured that your honesty, sense of humor, and your knack for naming bullshit when you saw it - have left a positive mark.

  201. David Sloane Says:

    Really sad news everyone: Olsson’s books, the most amazing local book store chain, has made the decision to close shop, under the weight of tremendous debt. People went to the readings at Politics and Prose, or went to be seen at Kramerbooks, but Olsson’s was where you could get down to business - just solid books, music, and movies, with knowledgeable and kind salespeople.

    Sad day for DC books…

  202. Dave Kramer Says:

    About the only thing I haven’t liked about living in Maine is the distance from Olsson’s.
    While serving in the Pentagon it was a frequently visited oasis and I’m saddened by its closing.
    Thank you.

  203. William Clark Says:

    This is a sad day. Olsson’s has been a favorite store of mine since I moved here in 1988. I was honored to have a book sigining at the DuPont Circle store. I will never forget it and I will always miss Olsson’s.

  204. Randi Kristensen Says:

    There goes another space that fed the imagination and wasn’t afraid of the offbeat and quirky and unexpected. Y’all are irreplaceable, and will be much missed. Thanks for hanging in there as long as you did.

  205. jimmy lavelle Says:

    i feel like i’m cursed. i was working at Tower Records when they went down and Olsson’s became my life raft in the sea of unemployment. i only worked there for 19 months, starting at old town, then moving to dupont circle, but it was definitely the best retail job i’ve ever had. i worked with amazing people at both stores, but my staff at dupont are all special people. we had some good times on those long, slow saturdays and working events was a crucible sometimes, but you all made the difference. to our customers at dupont, it was a privilege serving you.

    keep reading!

  206. Adam Says:

    Sometimes it seems like there’s just nothing left to believe in. If D.C. can’t support its own independent bookstore, then I don’t see how we can believe in D.C.

  207. Wayne Merry Says:

    Damn sad. I spent many a happy hour browsing in your stores, and spent a fair amount in them too — all time and money well spent. You willl be missed.

  208. Rick Says:

    Whatever - I’ve still got a $10 credit. They pulled the carpet out and I am out of pocket? I hate these companies and their chapter 11 escape pod. I bet Olsson himself isn’t in need of a bailout.

  209. Andrea F. Says:

    I’m very sad to see the Olsson’s stores closed. I really enjoyed shopping at the airport & Old Town locations. How can I get back in touch about the consignment pieces I had at your stores for our charity? We had just dropped off another 100 postcards at the 2 store I mentioned above. In addition the airport held 10 of our posters. Please let me know. Thank you.

  210. John Stiver Says:

    Just to echoe the many posts here, I feel sad and remorseful that I began to spend my book and music dollars at Borders and Barnes and Noble. The personality and character of Ollson’s cannot matched by these large chains. I spent many, many hours browsing and buying at Ollson’s in Georgetown, and enjoying the independent spirit of the place. It always seemed to be bursting with intellectual possibilities and interesting folk. Thanks for being there!

  211. Joe Wang Says:

    It’s sad to see one of the last great independent bookstores go. My family liked the business, the employees, how it was run. It’s sad to see as we get more of the megastores in its place that have 400 copies of The Da Vinci Code but require that you special order some of the more thoughtful titles. I’ve been a customer since 1991 and this is just sad. What a loss to the community.

  212. Natalie Says:

    So sad to lose a good independent business!

  213. Jo Ando Says:

    I got my first job at Olsson’s as a part-timer at the old Rockville store as a classical music clerk while at university. Left as the bookstore manager of the old Georgetown store which I will always remember as the best place ever in so many ways, the co-workers, books, the music, the old building. What I do now, on the other side of the globe, I can because of what I learned here. Olsson’s will always be in my heart no matter where in the world I will be. Thank you all!

  214. Vivian Chum Says:

    I fell in love with this book store only a year ago when I moved to DC, and I am so sad to see it close. I feel like an orphaned reader. Olsson’s Books has had a big role in my recent decision to move to New York to become a literary agent. I was truly inspired by many of the authors who visited your book store; Olsson’s created such an intimate and wonderful atmosphere for writers to share their work. One of my best memories of my time in DC is the day I volunteered to play a ninja at Olsson’s McSweeney’s book event! I admit, I’d just come from happy hour!

  215. Carl Lederman Says:

    This news is heartbreaking. I can remember my very first Olsson’s purchase when, on a visit to DC, I picked up “Blood on the Tracks” in early 1975. Not a bad start. Moved to Alexandria in 1976 and began to frequent the Georgetown store where Rusty turned me on to lots of great music. Was thrilled when the Old Town store opened close to home and attended the opening day celebration in the early 80’s. Stopped by at least once a week for 25 years. Coincidentally, stopped by just before closing on the final night. The empty bins were so depressing. Was always treated like family by the wonderful staff including Paul Deblois, Rob Blau, Karl Straub, Peter Cruttenden, Rust Rudolph, Chris Anderson, and many others through the years. My record collection is my pride and joy, and for half my life the primary source was Olsson’s. I feel as if a close friend has died. Thanks for everything. You will be missed.

  216. Dick Bamford Says:

    As a frequent visitor over many years to your Old Town location, I have to say that Olsson’s closing is a great loss to me as well as to the community. I have fond memories of making it a destination while walking my dog and the generosity of your cashiers in offering doggie treats to their four-legged visitors. Thanks for the great memories!i

  217. Michelle Says:

    I’m so sorry. I have good memories I’ll keep forever.

  218. Joe Murphy Says:

    I worked at Olsson’s for 17 years, had every job from clerk to general manager, and I’ll miss it terribly.
    I still remember walking into the Bethesda store and getting my first clerk job because my boss-to-be was out at a meeting with a rep; I waited an hour and a half for him. Between guilt from keeping me waiting and his being softened up by the rep’s hopitality at lunch, he gave me the job. So odd that that one bit of serendipity determined the course of the next two decades for me and led to my working with the most amazing succession of the best folks I’ve ever met. I remember my 10 years at the Lansburgh store especially fondly–so many great customers, great events, and of course, great co-workers.
    Best wishes to everyone from Olsson’s, and my hopes that independent bookselling continues in DC.

  219. RH Says:

    Another Old Town landmark is gone! There was a lot of remembering today where I work. The store and the great folks who worked there are gone, but not the memories.

  220. Millie Groobey Says:

    I am saddened beyond my ability to tell you. I started my book buying in Washington, shortly after I moved here in 1969, at the old Discount Books at DuPont Circle. Then I moved to Olssons and have never left you. One of my fondest memories is of taking my two young nieces out for their birthday lunches in Georgetown, where they lived, and then walking to the Georgetown store, where we would sit on the floor and look at books until they each found the two they wanted me to buy for their birthday presents. I have always made it a point to buy my books at Olssons and never at Amazon or the chains in the hopes that I could help you stay around and continue to be the wonderful shops you were. It was a great run, Mr. Olsson and all the employees I met, and I will miss you desperately.

  221. Gregory Thomas Says:

    I am so broken hearted that Olssons is now closed. I have personally picked up my weekly copy of The Blade for years on my way in to work…..

  222. Carl Kesner Says:

    I am so very sorry to learn today of the news that Olsson’s will be closing. I live in the Richmond area (former Roanoker) and I delighted in making side trips to Olsson’s whenever I was in the DC/Northern Virginia area. The employees at Olsson’s were helpful and each store was inviting and warm. The product for sale on the shelves was always reasonably priced and Olsson’s maintained a unique and well stocked inventory. We are losing indie book and music stores at an alarming pace. As Joni Mitchell once sang “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone”. Olsson’s will be sorely missed. Thanks for the memories.

  223. Karen L Says:

    WoW! Words cannot express the terrible loss this is to the community. It is an extremely sad sign of the economy. AIG, Fannie and Freddy, Wacovia, WAMU. etc etc now Olssons..

    Come on election. Please hurry and get the retarded chimp out of there!

  224. Suzanne Says:

    I am very sad. I live in the Milwaukee area, but have been a frequent visitor to Olsson’s, both with in-person visits to the store during trips to DC (dating back to my childhood) and, in recent years, your website, where I always appreciated your stock of signed non-fiction books available to those who weren’t lucky enough to live within a few miles of you and your wealth of in-store events. Best wishes to your wonderful staff–please know that you will be missed across the country (if not the world!).

  225. Tony Ritchie. Says:

    I still remember the first time I walked into the Penn quarter location. I was rushing to get there in the middle of the day for an event. My first event with Olsson’s. I owe a lot to Olsson’s and all the Olssonites. New back to the US after living in London, Olsson’s taught me more about the DC establishment in the time I worked there, then most Capitol Hill Interns learn (without the odd bathroom moments).
    Zipping from event to event be it a power lunch at Nathan’s in Georgetown, a private bash for Kristen Gore on the Hill, or a booze soaked nights with Irvine Welsh and Chuck Klosterman, I discovered more about this city’s authors and literary patrons than most will ever know.
    I am sad to see such a long standing independent book store fold, but I am holding on to my good memories as I know everyone else is.
    I would like to say thank you to John and the rest of the Olsson’s family, for welcoming me to the fold and for supporting me when I decided to leave. I miss being in the office, the long rambling discussions with Evan and Bill about nothing, furious mornings trying to finish a blog to get the Eblast out, the smell of tiny muffins from the kitchen and CkWednesdays …Ah, CkWednesday. These are the memories I am keeping with me.
    Thank you Olsson’s, DC is slightly–not cheapened– maybe just a little bit sadder without you.

  226. Jarrett Frankel Says:

    I was a music buyer (non-classical, major label and indie) for Olsson’s from 1999-2003. What a trying time for the industry (and it hasn’t gotten any better). I’ll always remain proud to have been a part of the struggle to stay alive in such cut-throat and dire times. It is a real testament to the brilliant and resourceful minds at work behind the scenes that they had lasted this long. Brooke, Alicia, and John (and others too many to name) deserve massive credit for the joy, art and community they have provided to so many people, employees as well as customers, in DC over the years.

    The end of Olsson’s is a major loss for independent retail.

    Thanks to everyone who became, and in spirit remain, a part of Olsson’s.

  227. Mary Wells Says:

    So very saddened to hear that Olsson’s is closing. The Washington area has lost a wonderful asset. I especially enjoyed the music department and the very knowledgeable staff. Alexandria will never be the same without Olsson’s.

  228. Oliver Yun Says:

    Two words: this sucks. Spent many a weekend afternoon in the Olsson’s in Penn Quarter, what a great bookstore and cafe, bought half my books there while in DC. Sad to see it replaced by yet another yuppie restaurant. Long live Olsson’s, long live independents!

  229. Washington City Paper: City Desk - Writers Weigh in on Olsson’s Closing Says:

    [...] word has spread about Olsson’s closing its five stores yesterday, folks have flocked to the testimonials page the bookseller set up. A handful of writers have weighed in with their memories; a selection [...]

  230. Paul Faatz Says:

    Oh no… what about Byron? I guess he just went to sleep on Monday night and then never woke up again? That makes it all even sadder!

  231. Eric Stragar Says:

    Where else could someone buy backlist titles by Anthony Burgess, a British paperback of the New York Trilogy before it was released in the States and buy Big Star on (white) vinyl? I made some great longtime friends from working at the Dupont store and met my wife when we both worked at the Metro store. From the dog days of summer (late shift on a Wednesday anyone?) to the madness and camaraderie of Christmas to laughing hysterically with the entire staff when hearing “We’re an American Band” in the store I still think about Olsson’s from ’88 – ’94 as some of the best days of my life.

  232. William McPherson Says:

    I think I was present at the creation. I remember in the 1970s a store west of Wisconsin on O or P street, which I don’t think was called Olsson’s but was the precursor, then the Wisconsin Avenue store, the Dupont Circle store, and so on. The men and women who worked there actually knew and read books. God knows how many I bought at those stores, and records and CDs, too. It was sad when the Georgetown store closed; this latest news is truly very sad for everyone who loves books. I am incredulous. The passing of Olsson’s is an enormous loss, and I am very, very sorry. You will be greatly missed, I have no doubt of that.

  233. Amal Bouhabib Says:

    So so sad, though so happy and blessed to have been a part of Olsson’s history, and to have had a chance to learn and work with some brilliant (often eccentric) peeps! lots of love olsson’s.

  234. Robin Sullivan Says:

    I was shocked and saddened. This is a terrible day for independent book sellers.

  235. Jean Riescher Westcott Says:

    Former Olsson’s-ites. There is a facebook group if you want to see a few familiar faces (Olsson’s Books & Records). Seeing the names of so many old friends is the good news when there is this bad news.

  236. Ed Hamm Says:

    The best, the most informative staff…..a sad day for Dupont Circle, for Mashington

  237. Paul Faatz Says:

    This is a huge loss. Aside from the cultural loss to the greater DC community, Olsson’s was a family and a community unto itself. Working at Olsson’s wasn’t “just a job” for anyone. My 7 years working at Rockville, Georgetown, and Metro Center, were among the most rewarding and exciting years of my life. Olsson’s easily had as great an impact upon my life as any school I have ever attended. My fond memories of all the wonderful times working there, and the amazing people I worked with, will be with me always, and my Olsson’s mug, with its “So many books… so little time!” imprint, will always remain a cherished reminder of those times and people.

  238. Vince M Says:

    Wow - so so sad. Really a shame. It makes me think of that New Yorker cover with a guy opening his bookstore while a woman next door is receiving a package from Amazon. With things going the way they are we may be forced one day soon to get all our books from the Internet - even our libraries are hurting.
    I can’t overstate how diminished this city will be without these great stores. I remember when I first moved to DC and lived near the Dupont location. I thought it was so special and it took me years to learn that there was another branch downtown. Back in those days - and even today truthfully - I am so biased towards the District and avoid stepping foot in the suburbs if I can help it. So this was my favorite and only bookstore. Anyway some years later I was married and brought my kids to Alexandria and found out that there was yet another location there. Who knew?
    There won’t be another store like this anytime soon. Thanks to all the staff for so many years of good suggestions and help finding books for myself and for others.

  239. Pat Says:

    Such very sad news. Olssons has been my port in the storm for many years. Starting with the Dupont Circle and Old Town stores and then when my office moved to Metro Center I could go the the 12th and F Street store for a bit of calm and inspiration. When that location closed I trekked to the Lansburgh store rather than buy from one of the “big box” places. I echo others here when I say I feel like I have lost a friend. You will be missed.

  240. Gerrie Checkon Says:

    A happy patron of your Bethesda store who utilized your stock to fill out my CD collection as well as purchase current books, I’ve been looking forward to having you back here. Announcement of the closing of the Penn Quarter branch made me hope it wasn’t a precursor of graver difficulties. I’m saddened by the closing of your stores. If there is any way you can reestablish, know you have many satisfied customers you can rely on. Thank you for the years you were our neighborhood bookstore. You and your staff are missed and you are wished Godspeed.

  241. Dina Tuft Says:

    What a shock! After the July filing, I hoped the reorganization would sustain the business until the economy improved. This customer will miss the unique book inventory and the personal service that Olsson’s provided. Best of luck to all of you. Dina Tuft

  242. Bill Blais Says:

    I’m from Maine and discovered Olsson’s at the airport a couple years ago, while passing through. I was stunned to find such a great place, and independent!, in the middle of all that. A genuine breath of fresh air. I was immediately jealous of the DC locals. This is a definite loss.

  243. Simon Marks Says:

    A terribly sad day. I’ve spent countless hours browsing your stores over the past 15 years for books and music…and made many purchases. Olssons was a bright star in the Washington retail scene, and will be sorely missed.

  244. Brian Humes Says:

    A sad day. I really enjoyed stopping by the store at National. I could always find something fresh and interesting to read on a long flight. And I didn’t have to settle for one of the 14 or 15 titles the store down the concourse was pushing.
    You will be missed.

  245. Hannah Says:

    So sad to see Olsson’s go :(

  246. Anna Connolly Says:

    I worked at Olsson’s in the 1980s in various locations. I still remember it as my favorite job, especially in Georgetown. Last year I became friends with Ama when she worked at Courthouse. Her amazing knowledge of and enthusiasm for music helped me learn about new artists — 20 years later the tables were turned and Olsson’s still played a big part in my life. If it weren’t for Olsson’s and Ama, I wouldn’t being writing my own songs today–finally… I am sorry we are losing a place to connect with people like her who really are experts at what they do. How about an employees’ reunion?

  247. Uve Says:

    I am really really really saddened by this. I will miss you in Old Town Alexandria.

  248. G.M. Malliet Says:

    Jason, Sarah, Miriam - Thank you. I will miss you guys.

  249. Erik Says:

    I was a regular customer at Olsson’s as a teenager. The Old Town location was my first (non- lawn mowing) job. Moreover, it was a job I kept through college, graduate school, and some years thereafter. I frequented the store in my capacity as an ex-employee. I learned an incalculable volume about music, film and literature from my colleagues, as well as from the area’s fascinating and knowledgeable customers. The education was greater than any university could possibly provide. The experience changed my life, instilled great passions, and created obsessive hobbies. I made friends I hope to keep for life. The memories flood my mind with such force, I can’t keep up with the constant flow of images: Christmas festivities in Old Town with the staff amongst the bustle of customers brimming with (mostly) good cheer; reading Gramophone (and many other music magazines) at the “Information Desk” whilst getting paid; late evening discussions about the evolution of Coltrane; my discovery of P.G. Wodehouse (and many, many other authors); restocking LPs into “poly” bags; the first CD to be sold at the store; regular customers coming to visit and giving tapes of recordings that must be heard; time spent with my family at the store; merely wandering the stacks and purchasing the unknown and obscure at impulse; returning from school on breaks and feeling as if Olsson’s, too, was a home. . . To many, Olsson’s was a wonderful local institution. To me, however, it was an integral role in my personal development. Thanks for everything.

  250. Maren Springsteen Says:

    My husband and me are so sad to hear this. We loved Olsson’s dearly and especially the courthouse branch was one of our favourite places on earth. We went to almost every booksigning of the last seven years and enjoyed knowing the lovely staff and chatting with them.
    The music selection was outstanding, too, we found many of our birthday gifts there for our Bossa Nova selection.
    We are grateful for so many wonderful memories pertaining to Ollsen’s and would like to thank everybody there for their kind and warm service!
    All the very best to you!
    Maren and Joe

  251. Maureen Gorman Says:

    Wow. End of an era! I worked at the Georgetown store in ‘86-’87 and what times those were. Met some great friends there and was exposed to wonderful music, interesting people and books and books and books. That was when records were being faded out and CDs were being thrust in. 20 years later, i once again work in G’town, and it still saddens me to see the Wisc Ave. Olssons closed. DC will not be the same without Olssons. Thanks for being a memorable part of my life!

  252. Catherine & Dwight Olsson Says:

    Many fond memories…visiting Olssons was a highlight of our trips to DC…always a welcome adventure..Good luck..hope to see you again.

  253. Margaret Says:

    I am sorry that Olsson’s will no longer be with us. It is so important to have locally owned stores and this will be a big loss in an era of chain stores. You always had a wonderful selection of books. Best of luck to you.

  254. Colin Says:

    Saturday routine: Coffee, newspaper, Olssons, pub lunch (Union St, Old Town, or Four Corners, Courthouse) and home to play new tunes. Tip - Olssons before lunch and you spent less.

    Today is a sad day indeed. Another victim of the mega-stores and internet sales. When will we learn?

  255. Janet Towles Says:

    What about those of us who have gift certificates? I see you still have inventory in your stores, is there any way to redeem them?

  256. Margaret French Says:

    This is terrible news, both for loyal customers like me and for your wonderful staff of interesting and helpful young people. I will really miss stopping by the Old Town Olsson’s to pick up a good read, or two, or three or more. This is just one more way in which our current economic downturn affects the quality of life for each of us. It truly saddensme to lose such a valuable resource. Thanks for all the years of good service to the cultural needs of our community.

  257. Chris Anderson Says:

    I worked as a music manager at the Old Town store for eleven years - from September 1997 up until yesterday morning. While I am, of course, sad to see such an institution become the latest retail casualty, I am also sad because I lost a home, as well as a creative refuge. In this era of micromanaged, cookie cutter, big box retailers, it was refreshing to be able to go to work every day and splurge on my passions, from checking out new music, to building displays, to chatting with all of my regular customers, to writing my infamously long-winded recommendations. Olsson’s was a place where not only I could totally be myself, but I could get paid for it.

    So many memories are flying through my head right now. Far too many to recount here. But all of them are wonderful.

    During my time there, hundreds of employees passed through the ranks - several staying on for many, many years - every single one of them a unique individual, and a friend. I miss them all.

    It’s been said that the employees were what made Olsson’s. And perhaps that’s true, at least in terms of what gave the stores their character. But it was the customers, both regular and passers-by, who inspired us and truly made us what we were. I think that’s evident from all the above posts. Sadly, in this day and age, it takes more than a loyal customer base in order to stay afloat, but that doesn’t cheapen it one bit. To everyone who ever shopped in our stores - thank you.

    And to all of my Old Town regulars - I will miss you tremendously.

    Best of luck to John Olsson, and all of my co-workers, and thank you for eleven great years. No other job will ever compare…

  258. bigblack Says:

    i am sorry they are closed. i used to steal stuff from them all the time and sell it to cd cellar.

  259. Margaret French Says:

    This is terrible news, both for loyal customers like me and for your wonderful staff of interesting and helpful young people. I will really miss stopping by the Old Town Olsson’s to pick up a good read, or two, or three or more. This is just one more way in which our current economic downturn affects the quality of life for each of us. It truly saddens and, yes, angers me to lose such a valuable resource. Thanks for all the years of good service to the cultural needs of our community.

  260. Ann Davies Says:

    A very sad day indeed for your staff and for your customers. I began going to your store at Dupont Circle twenty-plus years ago and spent many happy lunch hours there. My husband joked about my Olsson’s frequent flyers card. I will especailly miss Elizabeth Franzen’s pieces in your newsletter. Thanks for all the wonderful books and best wishes to all of you.

  261. Britt Schramm Says:

    As a Metro DC expatriate, I have some great memories with Olsson’s of G-Town. Finding some great indy CDs and taking a chance on a book based one of my favorite recommending employees (whose name escapes me 15 years later). Stores like Olsson’s are becoming similar to the old Five and Dime stores of the 40s and 50s - regional stores run by locals who catered their clientele and had an appreciation for their neighborhood. With Olsson’s closing its door, the experience of going to a bookstore has grown that much colder.

  262. Jason Rylander Says:

    Thanks for the memories — finding new music at Dupont and MetroCenter, midnight Harry Potter release parties at Courthouse, whiling away a lunch hour, or a quiet evening browsing the stacks or sampling the listening stations.

    Your stores were always human scale, cozy, attractive and full of wonderful people. Olssons was a good friend who will be missed. Something very significant was lost today in Washington, DC.

  263. Jenny M Says:

    To misquote “Mississippi Burning,” I’m not from here any more.

    It is not the same city without Olssons.

  264. Frank Says:

    I can’t begin to tell you how (pick the word) distraught, demoralized, depressed, this news leaves me. I’ve been visiting, browsing and buying at the Union Street store in Alexandria for years. No visit to Old Town was complete without a stop at Olssons. I loved that place! Now what?

  265. Greg Marino Says:

    I got this news from a fellow Olsson’s employee alum this morning and I am so, so sad. Thanks to fellow GW student Vanessa, I spent 5.5 of my 6 years in DC from 88-93 working with Stillman and BC at the Georgetown store for one year, followed by 4.5 years of fabulousness working at the Dupont store with Brooke, Tony, Dave, Kim, Heather, Dzovig, and Rolando, before moving to Connecticut. I owe so much of my appreciation for all kinds of music to my experience there, and have consistently pointed anyone I know visiting DC to go and experience not only the uniqueness of Olsson’s selections, but also the quality of their customer service. As sad as it is to imagine DC without Olsson’s, I am enormously proud to have played a small part of its 36 years as an independent Washington institution. I mean, where else could a college freshman with Robert Smith hair ring up a book for Caspar Weinberger surrounded by goths on a Saturday night in Georgetown?! Thank you for the education, memories, and the best college job ever. Peace.

  266. Jim C Says:

    Christmas Shopping trips to Old Town will never be the same without Olsson’s. Thanks for all the great years!
    Jim C

  267. Nancy Says:

    This is a tremendous loss for the D.C. area. I was fortunate to live near the Courthouse Olsson’s for its entire life. It was “my” bookstore — where I got my Metro reading, where I did much of my Christmas shopping, and where I could always pop in for a last-minute gift idea. I went to every one of its Harry Potter midnight-release parties, and to countless author readings at its various locations. I’ll always be grateful to Olsson’s for enabling me to meet Douglas Adams at the Metro Center location so long ago.

    Thank you for your wonderful staff (Hi Jean! Miss you!), and for trying to be an independent voice in a world of increasingly homogenized, impersonal retail.

  268. Jeff Dwyer Says:

    I was one of your first customers when you opened in Georgetown. When that closed I went to your Dupont store.

    Your staff was like family and I will miss you all

    Au Revoir

  269. emily Says:

    This is such sad news. Olsson’s was one of my favorite stores in the District, and it is a tragedy to see it go. Thanks for all that you brought to the area.

  270. David M Says:

    I loved browsing the old Record and Tape Ltd at Dupont Circle, along with the Georgetown branch in the mid 1970’s. The Olsson’s most recent Dupont Circle location became a favorite location for locating cds and dvds that other places- Borders, Tower, etc, were not likely to have in stock. I will miss the browsing and the atmosphere of the Olsson’s bookstore. Thanks Mr Olsson for a wonderful venue that lasted this long.

  271. Sam Perkins Says:

    It’s a sad day and opens a major gap in Washington’s cultural scene. I will miss Olsson’s, and will especially miss the friendly and well-informed staff at the Dupont store. My thanks and best wishes for all of you.

  272. Stephanie Elizondo Griest Says:

    Hola everyone,

    I’m terribly sad about the closing of Olsson’s, and the cancellation of my own event there (originally set for Thursday, October 2, for a performance of my new memoir “Mexican Enough”). Thanks to all the staff who have supported my work over the years. I wish you the very best in your next endeavors. Thanks also to the readers/Olsson fans who have written me, asking about my event. I hope to reschedule in the spring. Please visit my website, http://www.MexicanEnough.com, for details.

    Stephanie Elizondo Griest

  273. Genie Says:

    Just got word about this…last time I was in DC (in February), I made sure to stop by the Olsson’s in Arlington and buy more books than I had room to take home in my suitcase. I’m so sad to say goodbye to you guys — best wishes, and congrats on an incredible run.

  274. Rosana and Fernando Says:

    We are so sorry to hear that Olsons is closing down. My husband and I used to spend a lot of time of ours weekends at Olsons stores. Best book shop in town, best selection of titles in books and music.
    We will mis you,

    Thank you

  275. richard Says:

    this is so depressing. best of luck to all of you.

  276. Deacon Says:

    Over the year’s, we’ve been glad to send people down the street to Olsson’s when we knew they would have a book or CD we didn’t carry at Lambda Rising. And Olsson’s returned the favor when their customers were looking for an lgbt title. I bought a lot of CDs there myself. We’ll miss you as a community resource, as a neighbor, and as a bright spot in the literary landscape of Washington. No Barnes & Noble, no Borders, no Booksamillion, and definitely no Amazon could ever be an adequate substitute for a local bookstore with a passionate staff.

    To all former Olsson’s employees hoping to stay in the bookstore field, we would welcome your application at Lambda Rising, the gay and lesbian bookstore at Dupont Circle.

  277. Arnold F. Fege Says:

    Independent book stores are civic centers of our communities, and when they close, they also are major civic losses. I remember what a loss it was to have ONE of the Olsson’s stores close at Metro Center, but to loose all the stores is an incalcuable loss. Of the many book signings, I remember Nikki Giovanni as one of the most memorable. I will also remember the many Olson’s employees such as Lansing who were always so helpful and knowledgable, and the impeccable selection of books, and the carefully constructed staff recommendations. In Europe and around the world, book stores and cafe’s are places where the public meet in intimate settings to connect with the civic and intellectual world. Ghandi once was asked what je tought aboiut western civilization. He answered he liked it and we should try it sometime. He might have said the same for independent bookstores such as Olssons. Thank you all for your service to the DC community.

  278. Susan Van Metre Says:

    My two best high school friends and I had a ritual on Friday nights. We’d have garlic bread, a pepperoni pizza, and a pitcher of Diet Coke at Armand’s and then head down King Street to Olsson’s for two hours of browsing the books and talking about our favorite authors. Now we are an editor (me), a librarian (Karen), and a very well-read accountant (Thu), who still can’t get enough of books or pepperoni pizza! Before I headed to the Radcliffe Publishing Course–the program that set me on my career path–I met with one of the Olsson’s buyers as part of a pre-program assignment. I still remember her words of wisdom about the book business–how baseball books sell better than basketball books (true!) and what makes a good jacket (a strong central image). I feel I am losing a good friend and mentor in the closing of these great stores. Olsson’s was so much more than a “retailer.”

  279. John Paige Says:

    It’s certainly the end of a cultural era for the DC area with Olsson’s closing. Thank you, John Olsson, Brook, Robin, Chris and all the other great employees who made this area a better place to live. We were lucky to have you here and you’ll be sorely missed.

  280. Courtney Says:

    Thank you for helping me stock my own shelves with some of my favorite reads and re-reads.
    I’ll miss stopping in the Dupont store on a whim and leaving with a new find. Many times it was a book from the wall recommended by Jimmy, who somehow managed to never disappoint me. Every book he recommended, that I had not already read, I enjoyed immensely. So thank you!
    I will miss the personality the store had, the great guest speakers, and so much more.
    I can’t get lost in a huge chain bookstore like I could in Olsson’s.
    Thank you.

  281. Ann Gordon Says:

    I am so, so sad that Olssons is closing down. I put the book readings on my calendar, and looked forward to hearing new authors. Thanks for being the independent bookseller for 36 years.

  282. mable Says:

    When Georgetown store closed a piece of us died and there was not much reason to go to Georgetown anymore. The dim recesses with lovely music and hours of browsing and buying so much one of us had to wait with the bags while the other fetched the car. You always had the music for which I searched. We visited Dupont and, until it closed, 7th Street every week or other week. My husband refused to buy from any other book store or online as long as Olssons existed. He is mournful now. Is there not any way to collect everything and keep one store? Just for all of us who love you? Please. We will come buy. Christmas is coming where am I going to get my gift books and certificates and unusual cds? Would you, could you not partner with and become the book and CD section of Trader Joes or Whole Foods? Oh this is such a blooming tradgedy!! I do not wish to miss you guys……..

  283. Curt Says:

    I will miss browsing for and finding interesting books and reading opportunities. I last visited the Dupont store late this past Saturday evening and appreciated the help of two staff members who helped me find a book title with only my vague memory as a cue. :-)

    Thanks for being a good friend and best wishes to everyone associated with the stores.

  284. Alyssa Denzer Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that Olsson’s is closed. I read the article in the Post today and was completely taken by surprise. I’ve always enjoyed perusing the aisles, and buying more than a few books there. Its a true loss to the area. You will be missed!

  285. Evelyn Says:

    I’ve seen the closing of an indie bookstore from the inside — it’s a sad thing to watch happen, but you should all be immensely proud for being in business such an amazingly long time. I’ve lived in DC for five years and I’ve loved Olsson’s since I got here, but I had no idea how old it was.

    Best of luck to the staff — thanks for stellar customer service and your collective depth of knowledge. It cheers me on some level to think of ‘book people’ like yourselves now being set loose on D.C. :-)

  286. Terry Moore Says:

    Wow. I’m angry and sad at the same time. Angry because Olsson’s simply expanded too much too fast. They locked themselves into renting at too many locations and when the real estate bubble increased rent it became a drain. They crashed from, I think, 9 stores in 2003 to the 5 they had two days ago. That and their refusal to accept that the music market had changed. The music section at Dupont took up too much space from the rest of the store, how could they renew that lease if they didn’t need that space? From the initial bankruptcy filing, they were over $1 million in the hole. So I’m angry that they took too many risks and blew it.

    Sad because I’ll miss the place. They always ordered any book I asked for and the staff was always helpful. I’ll miss reading all their recommendations. I used to look for what they thought of the books I’ve already read. I’ll miss how dimly lit the place felt. I’ll even miss how warm the place was in the winter.

    I guess Melody and Politics & Prose will be my stores now. Thank you for the time you were there Olsson’s.

  287. unreliable narrator Says:

    The day of its death was a cold, dark day.

    I worked at Bethesday in 1990-1991 and Dupont Circle in 1992–and still think often and fondly of beloved managers Guy and Deana, coworkers Mike, Martha, Eric, and Joe–and so many more, wondering what became of everyone and what they’re reading these days. The Bethesda store struggled even then, with Crown Books nearby; and I suppose the Internet was the final nail in her funny bowling-alley-shaped coffin.

    Sam Donaldson once corrected my grammar at the Dupont store. And Doug Coupland chewed me out because we only had, like, TEN copies of Microserfs, instead of the hundreds he apparently thought we should keep on hand. Mais où sont les neiges d’antan?

    May there be a parallel universe where Olsson’s is raking it in hand over fist.

  288. Morgan Says:

    We lived across the street from the 7th Street NW store, and mourned its passing. We have been to both the Dupont and Alexandria stores, and will miss them as well. The service and access will be missed!

  289. Mary Says:

    TRAUMA! I used to sneak out of work to hang out in the Lansburgh store, happily rented hard-to-find videos at Dupont, and planned to spend my fall evenings in the Alexandria coffee nook. So sorry to hear that you’re closing, but many many thanks for offering me a superior local alternative to the soulless Barnes & Noble.

  290. Joyce G Says:

    When I first heard the news that Olssons was closing I could not believe my ears. I am a native Washingtonian and I recall the Discount Books and Records store on Connecticut Avenue and was a longtime customer of the Dupont Circle store. Everytime I have been to the store the staff was always friendly and very helpful (something you don’t find a lot of these days in the other “retail” book chains). Olssons was a staple of the community at large and will be sorely missed.

  291. Vicki Linton Says:

    I go back as a customer to L St where I bought vinyl LPs back in 1973. Olsson’s has been my book and music store ever since. Thank you for all the years of being a great local bookstore. I will miss Olsson’s so much.

  292. J. Parrish Says:

    We are very sorry to learn of the closure. Many thanks to the employees who were so helpful and courteous over the years. Having experienced their skills and competence, we are confident that they will do well; we send our best wishes in their future endeavors.

  293. John Henrehan Says:

    Arrgh! I have to do an obituary story for Fox 5 News on my favorite bookstore (Olsson’s — Old Town). Does anyone have a phone number for Mr. John Olsson? Please call my cell phone (202-438-5640), as I wll be away from my computer visiting the store locations.

  294. Bernie Cohen Says:

    Always sad to lose a locally owned business, especially one which was so customer centric.
    Good luck to you.

  295. Gil Says:

    I am really sorry to hear of the closing of this great establishment. I frequented Olsson’s as often as I could during my 7 years in the DC area. A sad day.

  296. Rebecca Says:

    Nooo!!! I was crushed when the Penn Quarter location just blocks from my office closed, but it was OK because I could still regularly visit the Courthouse store, which was practically in my backyard. I was just there with hubby last weekend…he bought a book he knew he wouldn’t find elsewhere. I loved killing time at Olsson’s when I’d go to pick up friends at National. This is just sad. Maybe I empathize b/c my parents own a “mom&pop” store in a small town that’s struggling along with so many other places like it to hold its own against Wal-Mart. Best of luck to everyone, and know that you will be missed.

  297. Daniel E Kessler Says:

    Thanks for all the years of giving excellent choices, fair prices and a Great shopping experience.

  298. Colleen Lindsay Says:

    Olsson’s was a class act.

    When I was a publicist working at Random House, I loved sending my authors there because they were treated like royalty.

    You guys will be missed.

  299. Chris Bowerman Says:

    I don’t know if John Olsson will remember me. I grew up living next-door to his family until I was 7. They were always the nicest people. As I grew up I loved coming back to DC and browsing through the store. Always able to find books and music that I couldn’t find in the other stores. So many times I thought of asking if John was actually working there that day so that I could say hello and ask how his family was and tell him what my family was up to. I never did and I’m now sad that I didn’t. I was just talking with a friend last week about Olsson’s and telling him how great of a store it was. Then today I wake up and see in the paper it has closed. It just broke my heart.

    John, I wish the best to you and your family. Thank you for the memories. I think of and miss Judy often even though I have not see you guys for so many long years.

    To the employees of Olsson’s; thank you for your work, dedication, experience and help whenever I was in there. Good luck.

    The store will be greatly missed.

  300. Leah Kenyon Says:

    Olsson’s was the first job I ever liked, so I stayed for eleven years. My coworkers were the best — smart, hardworking, and of course underpaid. But we knew that Olsson’s was doing all it could for us, and nobody was there to get rich. Helping customers who were genuine book lovers and working alongside such great people kept us loyal and happy. Goodbye, Olsson’s — I’m sorry to see the end of a wonderful place that brought so many simpatico people together.

  301. Bill Ahern Says:

    Like Joan Mooney above (#104), I worked at Discount Books & Records in the late ’70s, but not downtown. I was one of the cranks at the Chevy Chase store in the book department with Kathy Finnerty. Was still there when Crown blew us out of the water in a scenario similar to this one. Much later worked at the Old Town store for Virginia Powers — more good memories. Retail’s tough.

  302. Kat Says:

    Olssons was my family’s favorite cd and book store. You will definitely be missed!

  303. Bill Holland Says:

    I’d like to point out that John Olsson was, among other admirable characteristics, always a great trail boss, who could always count on a loyal and enterprising staff because he treated them right. Once the hallmark of a successful “small” business in this country,that kind of leadership used to pay off. Now it can’t, because of the uprooting changes in the brick and mortar retail world. The loss of Olsson’s is sad; the loss of the kind of business John ran is even sadder.

  304. Jillian Says:

    Olsson’s wasn’t just a job for me, it was a second home. I loved being there with all the wonderful staff and interesting customers. I’m thankful for having been a part of the Olsson’s family. Best of luck to you all.

  305. Bill Fant Says:

    It is a very sad day. Any time I walked into an Olsson’s store I knew that I would learn about something I did not know before. The loss of independent bookstores generally is a signficant one for our cultural and intellectual lives.

  306. Gail Lelyveld Says:

    I’m sorry. I just discovered you.

  307. John Pfordresher Says:

    Terrible news. Sure I’ll patronize other locally owned shops like Kramer Books and Melody Music … thank goodness they’re still in operation … but I have been a happy and constant customer since your Georgetown store first opened and I’m going to miss the distinctive Olsson’s atmosphere and the wonderful staff members who made it such a human place.

  308. Colleen Says:

    a sad day indeed. my first memories of living in dc were highlighted by visits to your dupont store. i’ve enjoyed your events, recommendations, and newsletters for some time. the dc area will not be the same without you. best wishes!

  309. Bob Wheaton Says:

    I spent many an evening in the Old Town store perusing the books and listening to the music at the new releases section. Sorry to see you go….

  310. Jenny Roahen Rizzo Says:

    SO disappointed to hear this. I’ve been shopping at the Courthouse location for years, and since moving out of the Courthouse area have made a special effort to return to look for books at Olsson’s first. Soon there will be nothing left but huge big box chains…

  311. Matt Prestone Says:

    I’m trying to figure out how to even start this. I’ve worked with John Olsson and Brooke and Alicia and so many more from 1981-86 as an employee, manager and buyer. Since then selling them some of the interesting mix that was the hallmark of the chain until a few months ago. A better bunch of folks I cannot imagine. It was always all for the customers - the best locations, selection and employees.
    We’ll miss you guys!

  312. John Bowerman Says:

    John Olsson -It seems like yesterday we talked about your opening of Records & Tapes in our back yards over those wonderful icy drinks while our small children played in the very small plastic pools. Though Gail and I only on rare occassions visited your stores our prayers and thoughts have been with you and your family over the years. I hope your retirement years bring you the blessings you deserve for providing a Washington Instition that has been so well liked by all. If you are ever near Frederick, please call and visit.

  313. CRW Says:

    I’m shocked! I had read in the WaPo that Olssons was having financial problems, but didn’t realize they were so extreme that ALL your stores would close. Olssons’ selection of books, especially history and current affairs, is always a cut above the chain stores. Your staff is always top notch. I enjoy your author talks/book signings. I’ll miss popping into your Crystal City shop during lunch. All the best to the Olssons staff!

  314. Tequila Brooks Says:

    For the last several years my (now) husband and I had a Saturday ritual of going to the Olsson’s in Old Town Alexandria to listen to CD’s and buy books and CD’s. I wish Olsson’s did not have to close. We are loyal customers and will miss our favorite book and music store.

  315. GK Says:

    I worked at the old Metro Center store over ten years ago and have been a loyal customer ever since. I wish you could see the faces of friends and coworkers who’ve just heard the news — we all look like someone just died (someone did — a DC institution). Best wishes to all of you and thank you for all the years of giving DC folks a way to apply the “buy local” tenet to books and music. We’ll miss you!

  316. David Gorsline Says:

    Oh, gosh, I’m sorry it had to end this way. So long to the long-closed locations in Georgetown and Bethesda that I fondly remember, and so long to the last holdouts.

  317. Zach Wilks Says:

    You will truly be missed.

    I have enjoyed so many author events at your stores at Court House, Dupont Circle, and Penn Quarter.

    Thanks and the best of luck to you and all of your wonderful staff!

  318. Orazio Says:

    I will truly miss the unique selection of books you carried in your stores. I first visited your Georgetown store in the early eighties, browsing through the stack of books, until I found, to my surprise, what I was looking for: a “hard-to-find” hardcover edition of a selected European country history book. Since then, during my visits to Washington, I made it a point to stop in and browse your selection of books. I often left with more than one book. I will miss visiting your Reagan National Airport store while transiting through Washington during my travels.

  319. Anthony Says:

    This is a crying shame.
    One more reason to move out of the area.

  320. Chad Says:

    On behalf of every institutional arts organziation in Washington, a huge thank you for all you have done. All the banners, flyers, promotional materials, in store giveaways, and mainly spreading the word of performing art. Your mission is gravely applauded.

  321. Ben Says:

    If only they could have held out until January. Everything will be OK when Barack takes over.

  322. Tim Says:

    Adios Olssons…The only reason for me to visit DC was to see you and Melody Records
    It will never be the same for me when i come down there now
    I apprecaite all the biz you gave me through the years
    Good Luck to Everyone there..Especially Brooke & Alicia
    Tim Comerford

  323. Richard Says:

    I’m sorry to see you go. I met so many great authors and politicians at your stores. Ironically my story about Kinky Friedman’s appearance for his promotion for his book “The Christmas Pig” will be published soon. web site http://www.thepoliticalcollector.com It it he bemoans the fact that while people say they support independent businesses when the chains come they desert the independent As he said “it happens every f-ing time”.

  324. Ina Hoxha Says:

    I just discovered you last week and was thrilled about having finally found my corner bookstore. It feels as if I met you on a train and we never exchanged contacts and I will always wonder what might have been…

  325. lorin Says:

    What sad news. Olsson’s had the best author signing.

  326. Mike Shelton Says:

    I am so saddened by this news. I’ve been a customer for years, and will miss Olsson’s more than I can say. Thanks to all the fine sales staff; you were the best, and I wish you all the best of luck.

  327. Lee Higdon Dillon Says:

    Thank you Olsson’s for employing my brother for 23 years and making him very happy in his work. It is such a sad commentary on the state of affairs in this country that private enterprise cannot survive.

  328. Anon Says:

    I began my visits to Olssons in the mid-70s. At that time, the best Saturday night was one or two films at Circle Theater followed by a good wander thru the Georgetown store. For a young college woman, it felt almost decadent!

    I’m sad that we are losing yet another independent bookstore.

  329. Suzanne Morgan Says:

    Where else could the book geeks hang out with the cool kids?

    I still have dreams about the old Dupont store.

  330. Maureen Says:

    I am so sorry to get this news. I’ve been going to the Dupont Circle store for many years–from buying novels and biographies and cookbooks for myself when I first moved to DC to buying new baby books, “chapter books” and first novels for my kids. The staff have always been really helpful and just great. I will miss this store.

  331. John Roy Says:

    I am so sorry to hear that it’s finally happened. I worked at the Bethesda Store when it first opened, and at the Georgetown store in college.

    Everything I know about how to run a store and how to treat employees I learned from Elliot and Bob and all the other wonderful people I worked with over the years. Olsson’s has been a wonderful part of my life, and I will miss it terribly.

  332. Marissa Brown Says:

    I also was a long time customer and enjoyed browsing the Dupont store. I have also started to look forward to the online newsletter. So sorry to see you go.

  333. Stephen Byous Says:

    The Dupont Circle Location has been a regular home from home for me since I moved to DC in 1998. So many good books and a knowledgable staff, some of whom became good friends. I wish the owners and employees well. I feel sad for you but mostly am sad for the readers in this area. We are diminished by this.

  334. Christopher D. Dickerman Says:

    I hadn’t been to Olsson’s much recently so my best memories are of the 80’s & 90’s. Those were the days, indeed, my friends. I think we the employees were having as good a time as the customers - and selling lots of books!

    So, is anyone out there going to try to do it again? Is it possible to reproduce the Olsson’s of all our memories?

    Can you fix my printer?


  335. Mary Says:

    We’ve lost an old friend.

    Interesting that the merchandise is still in the store with no firesale. Is there a buyer in the works?

  336. Frank Says:

    I’m stunned and saddened. For the last six years our family’s Sundays in Oldtown have consisted of a visit to Olssons followed by brunch while we shared our purchases and read snippets to each other. It reinforced my love of books and fostored a growing appreciation for the written word for my son who lettered in debate this last year due in part to your material. I met Buzz Aldrin and Jay Leno at your stores. For those authors I couldn’t meet, your signed book section was a treat and a benefit to my gift recipients and personal library. Your staff was a breath of fresh air amidst the stale disinterested generic mega-stores. Know that you will be missed.

  337. Stephanie Says:

    This is so sad! I’m so sick of the big bookstores pushing out quality independent bookstores. We are going to miss you so much! Thank you for your wonderful service to the city.

  338. Zach Says:

    I moved to DC 6 years ago and I loved your store. One of the only independent book stores in the area. I’m really sorry to hear of your closing. I know I will especially miss the browsing your DuPont circle store, but I will keep my fond memories of it.

  339. Sonya Michel Says:

    This is a very sad sign of the deplorable state of not just of our economy but of our culture. Thanks to Olsson’s for all it has brought our community over the years.

  340. Cynthia Robbins Says:

    I never met you Mr. Olsson, however I was lucky enough to rep to your stores for the 2 years I had Washington DC accounts. I purchased many books and much wonderful music during my sales calls. It is very sad that you couldn’t make it during the harsh economic time, but you are right about the memories. The store in Alexandria was my favorite, but all your stores will be much missed. Best to you and all of the people who worked with you to make Olsson’s a great bookstore experience.

  341. Hilary Woodward Says:

    I was just simply a tremendous fan. I frequented Dupont and Penn Quarter most (and MetroCenter, when it was there).

    I saw great authors, I browsed and bought a lot of books… and went home with far too many CDs.

    Olsson’s was my favorite place to take out-of-town guests, because they could see that D.C. had basically all I needed–a great bookstore. Or in this case, many great bookstores, all part of the same family.

    One weekend, I managed to earn two 20 percent coupons… and was told by the sales clerk at Dupont that maybe I needed to take a break–at least until the next weekend.

    I don’t know where I’m going to go for random cards and CD Release Tuesdays…

    I’ll really, really miss you guys.

  342. Helene Says:

    The loss of Olsson’s is a sad, sad thing. My favorite bookstore–eclectic and interesting, with a knowledgeable staff. You will be missed!

  343. Gloria Says:

    Thank you for all of the wonderful people I met (staff and authors), thanks for all of the great books I have purchased, and thank you for all of the great memories. My library, and my life are all the better thanks to Olsson’s.

    No matter where I traveled, it was the first stop I made as soon as I got back to the Washington area. You ALL will be missed!!!

  344. Greg Blair Says:

    Olsson’s was a unique Washington institution. It is almost unbelievable that this city could not sustain such an excellent establishment. Thank for the memories.

  345. Victoria Says:

    My dad’s been taking me to your stores since I was a little girl. I will miss the store greatly. The stores were always so warm and friendly

  346. Craig Gidney Says:

    What sad, sad news. Olsson’s was my favorite bookstore, hands down.

  347. Heidi Luedtke Says:

    What a sad day. Fresh coffee at hand, I arrived at Olssons.com to hunt down a book I need, and instead find a press release announcing the closing. I’ll miss your store and the great reads I’d find browsing through the aisles in Old Town. Take care and best wishes.

  348. Greg Barrett Says:

    No, say it ain’t so!

    This hurts. A little bit of the day’s color has been dulled. It’s the indie bookstores like Olsson’s that make book buying an experience rather than a bland, ordinary purchase, e.g. Amazon.com. You will be sorely missed.

  349. Laura Armstrong Says:

    I am so sorry to hear of this closing, both for the Olsson’s “family” and for myself. You all could be counted on to bring in the best of the best, both in books and in authors. It was a pleasure to bring my children to share what I’d experienced when I was young, and through Olsson’s events, we were able to connect personally with so many great authors. All the best to you… try again if you can. There will be a large gap in the reading community without Olsson’s.

  350. R Cavanaugh Says:

    I worked in the building above your Metro Center store in the 90s, and I was probably one of your top 10 customers at that store. I spent much of every lunch hour there. I special ordered a lot of CDs there. There was a very knowledgeable staff both there and at other stores, and I was always surprised that they knew what I thought were really obscure things. Also thanks for the authors’ readings–I particularly remember Colin Dexter and Alan Furst. Savile Row, Discount Books, Estate Books, Kramer Books….Olssons. RIP.

  351. R.H. Says:

    The landscape of this city will be the poorer for having lost Olsson’s. You will be missed and remembered.

  352. Bruce Says:

    You will be missed.

  353. Dennis Dimick Says:

    This is like a stake to the heart, a sad day. Your Record and Tape Ltd. on Connecticut was the first place for me when I moved here in 1980, I could always count on getting the latest ECM jazz release on vinyl, no less. The Georgetown store was a favorite place to while away Sunday afternoon. Years since I tried my best to get to Dupont and Courthouse, (even went to Rosslyn) there were just too few of us. Thanks for all the good books, records, and memories.

  354. Chris Grieb Says:

    This is sad news. Thanks for everything!

  355. Ralph Heibutzki Says:

    I share the sentiments expressed here (barring #15): vote local with your dollars, folks…it goes a long way toward shaping the kind of world that we live in.

    On November 7, 2003, I visited the Arlington store to promote my book, UNFINISHED BUSINESS: THE LIFE & TIMES OF DANNY GATTON (an appropriately DC-centric subject). About 15 people turned out, and they asked me a lot of intelligent questions. After I finished, I also did an interview with Michael Buckley (WRNR-FM).

    My favorite moment came from a guy who said, “I used to deliver the Washington Post during the ’70s, and Danny’s house was on my route: lots of barking, [antique] cars everywhere: it was one scary looking house!” All of us in that room shared a good laugh about that one.

    I’ve done signings and gigs where the staff barely grunted in your direction, let alone looked you in the eye — that wasn’t the case here! Your staff went out of its way to make me feel welcome, and the clientele definitely came across as true book lovers.

    I’d always hoped to come back on the heels of another book, so I’m as saddened as everyone else is here by the news. My best wishes go out to the employees and their families, and — once again — thanks for a great night! You made me feel right at home, and that’s all anybody like me can ask.

  356. Marvin Says:

    I am sad to get this news. It has been a tremendous experience coming to DC and going to Olsson’s. Your collection of books and music always was cutting edge to me. Quite enjoyable. I will miss you guys. Be Well…
    DC native in Los Angeles…

  357. Ahmet Guner Says:

    It is really a sad day. The Dupont store was the fist place to visit when I was in Washington, D.C.
    You will be much missed.

  358. David Says:

    Olsson’s was sort of in no-man’s land, the last of a dying breed — the local chain. You could always find a place with a little better selection and a little better price, and because there wasn’t a single location, like, say, Politics & Prose, it was hard to feel the same connection. But the staff picks were always reliable, they knew what they were selling, and, at least at the Courthouse location, the vinyl selections they kept behind the desk were extremely choice.

  359. John Geoffrion Says:

    Thanks for all the great books I bought from you. A sizeable chunk of my theatre library was purchased at the Landsburg store. I’m very sad and sorry to see you go.

  360. Jim Says:

    We’ll miss you greatly. Went in one day with a song stuck in my head but didn’t know the name. The staff in Old Town was awesome and helped me ‘name that tune’. You don’t get that kind of service online!

  361. Dr. Joseph Thach Says:

    Gonna miss you folks. Thanks for the memories and your always kind and thoughtful help - and all the wonderful books and records.

  362. James S. Says:

    I will miss Olsson’s dearly. I began at the L Street store while a student at GW in 1982, and got to know the Georgetown branch very well, Dupont Circle, downtown, and the Courthouse branch. Over the years I’ve built my classical and pop music collection, moved from LPs to CDs, and bought countless books on a wide range of subjects. I spent countless evening and weekend hours enjoying just browsing. While I can do that now at the major chains, it’s not the same. I hope we haven’t seen the last of local stores, but until they rise again I wish everyone involved good luck and a lot of thanks.

  363. Rajshree Says:

    I am in utter shock! So sad to see it go. Thank you for being the best independent bookstore around.

  364. Loraine Alton Says:

    What a shame that we are losing Olsson’s; you were my favorite book store. Not all change is for the better, I do not like the huge books stores with all their mundane books and poster hip. I really enjoy giving books as gifts and you often had material that interested my friends and family and at times you had signed copies, it felt so special to give good material with the author’s signatures. In your store I always felt comfortable and came across many good reads. T-H-A-N-K-S! I will miss you.

  365. john m Says:

    I am very sorry to hear this. Olssons has been a big part of my life for 9 years. I have met many wonderful authors and attended a number of events that meant a lot. This is a very sad day the the Washington Area.

  366. Elisabeth McCaffrey Says:

    I visited your website by chance this evening to see if you’d have a book I was looking for- I am heartbroken to read this news! I was so thankful for Olsson’s when I moved to the DC area– the city will be all the poorer for losing you. Thank you, thank you.

  367. Patricia Weth Says:

    I am so sad to hear of the news of Olsson’s closing. Your bookstore is my favorite DC bookstore. It was wonderful to have a local bookstore to shop in. I was able to avoid Borders and Barnes and Noble!!! As a Englist Lit major, I could spent hours in your store. Usually. I would come in for one book and leave with at least 10 books.

    I was sad to see the Ballston, Georgetown and Penn Quarter stores close. Now, I feel like I lost a an old friend. Your store provided wonderful customer service and had amazing book signings and readings by authors. In the early 1990s, I discovered a book in your store called Diary of a ” Whacked Out Bitch or How to Change the Universe Starting with Yourself ” by Judith A. Heinz. She was a local author and I bought a copy for all my friends. It became my bible.

    I want to thank Olsson’s owners and all the employees for the wonderful years of service to the Washington DC community. I will miss you old friend. I wish you all the best.

  368. Mike Braton Says:

    Alas, another Arlington bookstore bites the dust. Hopefully the libraries will survive. Barnes & Walden B. Dalton just don’t have the aura, but who doesn’t need another dose of caffeine inflationary economics. Wonder where all the used books will go to die..

  369. V. Brown Says:

    This is so sad to hear. Your staff has always been so helpful and knowledgeable, in all the locations I’ve visited over the years. Just this past weekend, one of your staff in Dupont spent over 15 minutes helping me and called up Wolftrap on my behalf. Great people! You will be missed.

  370. Margaret Kertess Says:

    My first visit to the Crystal City store was also my most recent purchase at a bricks & mortar bookstore. I’m a recent transplant to Arlington and was reassured to find a caring local book chain. I’m sorry to see you go just as I was getting to know you. Our civilization is poorer not to be able to support a business that demonstrated so much integrity. I wish you all the best for the future and hope to meet you again in another incarnation.

  371. Kathryn Loomans Says:

    One December evening in the late 1980s I planted myself in the cramped children’s-book nook of the Georgetown store. I was fairly new to Washington, recently married, and intent on finding perfect Christmas presents for the two delightful little girls out in California who were now my nieces–and who had very discriminating parents. While my husband made his customarily painstaking rounds through the extensive classical CD section, I browsed and read, and read some more, thankful for the patience of shoppers who politely squeezed past me until I found the gems that I knew would win me Super Auntie points that year. A very happy night.

    Ken and I share many good Olsson’s memories from countless visits to (and purchases from) your various stores, dating back to our dating days. The fact that I’m misty-eyed tonight is part nostalgia, and part simple sadness over certain changes in the marketplace. We’ll miss you, and we thank you for the knowledge and care you brought to the adventure of pairing people with art that goes home in a bag. Our sincere best wishes to you all.

  372. Jocelyn Limpert Says:

    The email about Olsson’s closing was very sad. I’ve shopped at Olsson’s for years and years, in most recent years the Dupont store. Only a week ago (Wed.) I purchased a newly arrived and yet unshelved book, “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” — and on my visit prior to that had asked about the bankruptcy and was told that all seemed fine under Chapter 11. I’m sad to learn that such was not the case. And to see another independent bookstore go out of business is indeed disheartening and just yet one more reason for people to support their independent bookstores. Now all we as customers have are many good memories and the hope that the well-liked employees can find jobs where they will be similarly appreciated.

  373. Rachel Says:

    This is a terrible loss. My favorite Olsson’s moment was a David Sedaris book signing in Virginia several years ago. He chain-smoked , read a book excerpt, and stayed for hours to speak to each fan individually and draw a little picture in each book. In the past year or so, I’ve particularly enjoyed the Olsson’s weekly e-mail and the blogs from Tony and Elizabeth, among others. I hope they can be archived online, or even continued in some form. I last visited the Dupont store about 10 days ago–the book and DVD I purchased will be fitting mementos from a great independent bookstore.

  374. Fran Says:

    Your location in Crystal City was a calm place from the movement in the streets. It was a pleasant place with a courteous staff. The selection of books were great…the DVD rentals convenient….musical selection diverse. As a resident in the area, I will hate to see you leave, but I am glad to have experienced a local owned book store. You will be missed. Going the mega bookstores do not provide the same feeling of intimacy, but I rejoice in knowing you experienced Sucess! Best wishes on you next endeavor!

  375. Allegra McCullough Says:

    Olsson’s on 7th St. provided me with many days of stress relief! Browsing among the tables and shelves….sitting on the sofa…sipping a hot tea and reading a book with the sun streaming on the pages! Thank you for providng such a wonderful retreat from the world’s madness!! I’m still having withdrawal pains! Much love and all the best!!

  376. Natalya Barden Says:

    I was very sad to get the message about Olsson’s closing. I have so many fond memories of Olsson’s–especially the Bethesda store that closed a few years ago. I spent a lot of time there, and it would lift my spirits to come to Olsson’s and look for new and exciting books. Some of my most favorite books were purchased at Olsson’s. I won’t be able to get rid of my member card; it will be too sad. You guys did a great job and so many of us in this community will remember your hard work. You created a truly special place. Olsson’s will be missed.

  377. Mariko Says:

    So sorry to see you go….. thank you for making our life in DC richer for all these years.

  378. Dusty Chalk Says:


  379. DSR Says:

    So sad… Thank you for the 25 years of books and music that I purchased at your many stores.

    I was just in the Dupont store the other day, and I saw the entire Criterion movie collection on sale. I wanted to buy some, but I needed to wait a month for my next pay check. Now they’re all gone! Let me know if you are looking to unload them…

  380. Brian Rothbart Says:

    It is a very sad day. I have spent many hours through the years looking for the perfect book. I have countless memories of all the great authors I have got to meet over the years. I have lost a dear friend today.

  381. Steve Whitney Says:

    John, it was a pleasure working for you at Discount Records back in 1971, and throughout the years I’ve enjoyed shopping in your stores and being helped by conscientious and knowledgeable employees. You did something really special. Best wishes for the next stage of your life.

  382. Joan Mooney Says:

    I”ll miss it very much. Similar to John Olsson, I started working at the Connec. Ave. Discount Books and Records (though a little later, in the late seventies) and have been a faithful patron at the DC locations through the years. I remember my boss at Discount Books saying the only person he envied was John Olsson. When I was working there, Crown Books opened downtown, and we told our customers not to shop there becusae its heavy discounting would ruin serious independent bookstores. Crown didn’t last, but the rest of it sure turned out to be true.

  383. Joan Moody Says:

    Thank you for the quality of your service as well as your literary expertise. There is nothing else like it in the Washington area. I hope you find a way to open again under a new form if needed. Best wishes to all of the Olssons family.

  384. L. Royan Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that Olsson’s has closed. My son and I loved the children’s story hour at the Old Town location. As a recent transplant to Alexandria, that was the only branch I had the opportunity to visit. It was one of my favorite places in Old Town.

  385. mary Says:

    I own a bookstore in Annapolis with my business partner, Janice. I am so sad to hear this news. I have loved Olsson’s and have wanted our store to be compared with it. Independent bookstores are trying to hold on.

  386. Carrie S. Says:

    Thank you for many wonderful memories & terrific service. I loved perusing the shelves at your Penn Quarter store, especially on rainy or snowy days. I could always count on you for a good birthday or Christmas present for loved ones, especially those great signed editions. And I relished settling in at the cafe with a coffee or a beer and reading through a new purchase. When I began studying a new language, that cafe was one of the few places I could truly concentrate. The Penn store remains (and always will be) one of my “happy places.” I’m overseas now, which is helpful for me, because I’m not ready to walk past those windows yet. Best of luck in the future and thank you once again. We’ll miss you.

  387. Ernie Barreto Says:

    This makes me sad. I’ll miss Olsson’s.

  388. Jackie and Rebecca Says:

    This is a sad, but important reminder to put our dollars where our values are and support locally owned business. We were shocked and disappointed to learn today, while in Dupont planning to stop in for cards, that Olsson’s is closed for good. The store will certainly be missed.

  389. Sandra L. Friedman Says:

    My favorite Olsson’s memories: the store near Metro Center after a day at work. There I heard and met Karen Armstrong and Michael Dirda. Thanks to Olsson’s I heard, saw and met Doris Lessing and E. L. Doctorow at the National Press Club. I met Professor Lewis Dabney, who wrote “Edmund Wilson, A Life in Literature,” at Penn-Quarter. Your staff took time to talk to me about books I liked and recommended others.
    Moments in time. Memories. Thanks is not enough.

  390. Mary Battiata (LITTLE PINK) Says:

    You wonderful people. Olsson’s was the very first store to sell my LITTLE PINK CDs, for which I was and always will be very grateful.
    And the Clarendon store, and staff, were an oasis. How weird and sad that that’s all over now.

    Thanks for everything. You will be missed.

  391. Jay Bruder Says:

    John and Company
    Very sorry to see the stores close. Thanks for the decades of great material and great prices.
    Jay Bruder
    Alexandria, Viriginia

  392. poupeh Says:

    it is so sad. stories like this. bookstores struggling and finally having to succumb to the circumstances. where are we heading? will anything be left of local cosy stores that make you feel good and welcome, feel like a human?
    still, we should, with a sad heart, wish you strength and success in whatever new road you are taking.
    thanks for all.

  393. Susan Says:

    I’m so sad to hear of your closing.

    I lived at the Lansburgh when I was on Army assignment to Suitland between 2000 - 2001, and became a (very) frequent Olsson’s shopper at the Lansburgh store. I was back in the area in 2002 for a 4 month assignment in Roslyn, and patronized the Roslyn store when ever I had the opportunity.

    I’ve since retired from the Army and now live in Virginia Beach, but have remained on your email list so I could keep up one of my favorite locals in D.C.

    I will miss being able to pop back in when I’m in D.C.

  394. Solveig Eggerz Says:

    I am so terribly sad to hear this news. This is a huge loss for the community of book lovers. Ever since I moved to Old Town in 1974, Olsson’s has been part of my life. Upon finishing a good novel, I would walk down to Olsson’s and select another good read from Olsson’s big table or from the shelved staff picks. Olsson’s and I came full circle in July when I did a reading of my own book at the Old Town store. I was proud to be associated with Olsson’s at that event. This wonderful book store exuded a warmth that occurs only when the entire staff truly cares about books.

  395. Elizabeth MacBride Says:

    My daughter and I loved curling up in the little children’s section in the Old Town Alexandria store. So sorry to see it go.

  396. Bill Young Says:

    My wife and I are sad to have heard the news. When we lived in Crystal City we were so excited to have the new store providing our movie rental and book needs. I even won an autographed guitar from there. Thank you, good luck!

  397. Thomas Cizauskas Says:

    I’ve been a fan and customer since returning to the area after college. Thank you for the books and music. Thank you to all who worked there– they actually knew about music and literature. The book may be closed but the memories remain.

  398. Richard Fishman Says:

    I am very sorry to read this. I hope all of the people who blithely order things from Amazon or wander into Borders will realize the impact of those decisions and support the remaining independent book and music sellers so that we may all continue to have broad choices. I have lived in DC but six years and have always enjoyed my time meandering through the various Olssons and the great service I received.

  399. Jennifer Says:

    Very sad. My Bethesda store has been gone for a while, but I remember how helpful the people who worked there were.

    I will miss Olsson’s greatly.

  400. Stephen Long Says:

    This is truly a sad day. I always went out of my way to buy something at Olsson’s. I especially liked picking up signed copies. I was at the Old Town branch this past Saturday, and purchased what is now my last book from Olsson’s, Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris.

    Thank you to all of the wonderful staff members who helped me, and friends, over the years.


  401. Peg Koetsch Says:

    As a devoted fan of your store for 18 years, I’ve studiously avoided buying at the big chains. My favorite location was Old Town - a must stop with and without my dog. Especially will miss the recommendations for great jazz CDs from the staff there.

    Am so sad to lose all of you - you’re sorely missed. Please let us know if you rise again.

  402. Anne Nelsen Says:

    I was walking past Metro Center today and I looked at PNC Bank and remembered how wonderful it was when Olsson’s was there–and this was before I saw the news. My husband and I practically lived at the Lansburgh Olsson’s. I look at my bookshelves and am overwhelmed at the presence of Olsson’s books. I remember so many Saturday and Sunday afternoons spent there, perhaps with lunch or an ice cream at Footnotes Cafe. I remember a great staff, in particular Val, who would see me come in the store and magically appear at my elbow if my book stack was becoming too large. I guess some people care about neighborhood pubs, but my neighborhood was Olsson’s. I’ll miss you more than I can say. Thank you for every moment. Sadly, Washington will truly never be the same.

  403. Caterina Says:

    Thanks for the hippest books and music and for providing the best alternative to the bland chain stores. Thanks also for having They Might Be Giants in store circa 2003. :)

    I will miss you guys.

  404. Paul Vamvas Says:

    I am sorry for your closing. I was a customer of a number of your stores, in Georgetown, Bethesda and 7th Street. The staff was unfailingly helpful and competent. It is anothe sad day for locally grown D.C. businesses.

  405. Kathey Says:

    Though I’ve not been able to come to Olsson’s much, and the closest I could get to is in Crystal City, Olsson’s has been a name I’ve known for many years.

    I am so sad that Olsson’s is closing. I certainly pray for God’s best for all, as only He can give. Seek Him, as He has our best at heart.

  406. Jason Says:

    I’ve been a Bethesda regular and a Dupont regular on and off since 1990.

    I’ll miss everything, especially the staff and their suggestions.

    I’m stunned. Best wishes to all the staff, especially to those I’ve known.

  407. Kari Says:

    I’ll miss you!

  408. Skip Groff Says:

    Over the years many customers of Olsson’s. shopped at my store, as well as several employees who worked there worked at my store as well, Olsson’s. stood the test of time, and deserve recognition for the great music and literature service they brought to the DC area over those many years. I salute you!
    skip at Y&T

  409. Brian Gluckman Says:

    Olsson’s was one of the things I really missed about living in DC…a place where people still read books, where authors were still respected above actors, and where an independent bookseller could thrive. I still visited one of the retail stores whenever I had a chance to visit DC. How sad to hear of Olsson’s closure, and what a loss it is for the city as a whole. Olsson’s, you will be missed.

  410. Chad Says:

    This is sad news indeed. I probably bought more records at Olsson’s than anywhere else. The employees’-picks shelves were pretty much the only radar a listener needed to keep up with the best new music. The in-store performances were something special.

    Also, the employees were sincerely cool. 500 times more helpful than any clerk at a chain store — and I’m not just saying that to be too cool for school.

    Why does this have to happen? It’s just wrong.

    Thanks, folks. Be very proud of what you gave to this city.

  411. Bob Skarr Says:

    Very sorry to hear about your closing. During all my working years in downtown Washington, I always relied on Olsson’s for the best in musical recordings and books, and even more important, for the best in service from store staff who were always most helpful and dedicated. I find it sad that a quality organization like yourself must end in this manner. Thank you for a job well done.

  412. Jen Redmiles Says:

    Oh, I’m just so sad!! :(… I can hardly believe it’s true.

    Know that you are loved, and will be sorely missed. Maybe, someday, when the world is made right again, you will return…


  413. NAB Says:

    This news makes me so sad. I’ve been shopping at Olssons since I first moved to DC in 1992 - first at the old Metro Center location and later the Dupont Circle location. All of the staff have always been incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. Your stores will be missed by many, I am sure.

  414. Chaz Miller Says:

    The staff is so good. The selection is so good. I’ve bought such beautiful music and wonderful books from Olssons. The Dupont Circle store was a jewel and a favored place to stop, browse and buy.
    Thank you to the staff for their great service and support.
    I am saddened to see such a wonderful Washington institution close.
    Best of luck to all the current staff, to John Olsson for all the great work he has done.

  415. Ellen Gold Says:

    Like a death in the family. Olssons made a big difference to those of us who love traditional book stores and helpful staff.

    Good luck in any future endeavors.

  416. Isabel Says:

    Wow, this is really sad. I always hoped the Bethesda location would return. Stupid Federal Realty. I wish you all the best of luck in your endeavours and I hope in the future you can find a way to keep bringing great (and local!) books and music to the DC area again.

  417. Rachel Howard Says:

    I worked at the Dupont location for several years in the late ’90s/early ’00s. My colleagues were wonderful and so were the customers. Even though I no longer live in DC, friends there have remained loyal to the store and kept me apprised of the struggles. RIP, Olsson’s. You’ve been a special part of so many lives…

  418. Will Watson Says:

    This news is like learning that a dear friend has died. I always felt a secret bond with the staff. Many seemed to know more about literature than some well known critics and there were some whom I suspect were writers working at Olsson’s for much the same reason I shopped there, to keep constant with their muses. May providence guide your footsteps ever onward. Thank you for the experience.

  419. John Collinge Says:

    I loved your store in Bethesda and the friendly and helpful folks who worked there. They always made me feel like ordering a book was as much a pleasure for them as for me. It was a sad day when it closed and I still miss it. My best wishes to you all.

  420. lori ganey Says:

    olsson’s was a great place to work.. i worked there for over 10 years..
    it was my other family…

    I have SO many memories, I will not forget.

    Thinking of all of you

    Lori Ganey

  421. Terence Kuch Says:

    My regular visits to Discount Books & Records in the early 1960’s were pilgrimages to visit all the books I’d like to own, many of which left the shop with me. Later, the long and narrow Georgetown branch became another piece of hallowed ground, then much later the fascinating and quirky 7th Street and Wilson Blvd sites. There was no magic, in D.C., quite like them.

  422. Sue Rupp Says:

    This is some of the saddest news that I have heard this week, among all of the turmoil in the markets and economy. I have lived in Virginia only 6 years but enjoyed many talks by authors and book recommendations from the always friendly staff. This is like losing a dear friend!

  423. Dan Kulpinski Says:

    I used to frequent the Bethesda store and in recent years made it a point to stop at the Dupont Circle store when I was downtown. They were great stores. I loved the little staff recommendations. It’s very sad that you had to close. Best of luck to everyone.

  424. Wendy Says:

    I am very, very sorry!

  425. Susan Anthony Says:

    There really is no other bookstore like Olsson’s. I am stunned and saddened by this news. I have been a customer for 30 years. I wish everyone at Olsson’s a safe landing to new destinations - but all of us shall miss you.

  426. Michelle Says:

    No federal bailout? A crime. Obama/Biden 08!!!!!

  427. Mike Rogers Says:

    A sad, sad day for the DC area. Best wishes to all.

  428. Stanley Says:

    Dear Olsson’s:

    Thank you for the years of making wonderful books available in wonderful settings. The people who worked there were knowledgable and very often super friendly. Best wishes.

  429. TH Says:


    When I worked in Arlington or DC, I would always stop by Olsson’s. You had the smaller artists, and the unique books. Whenever I visited home these days (after moving away a few years ago), I always tried to hit an Olsson’s. I’m so sad I won’t ever be able to do that again.

    Sad, sad day.

  430. Dan Purvis Says:

    Thank you for fighting the good fight as an indie bookshop. I used to regularly browse and buy from your Courthouse location and in more recent months I would stop in the Crystal City shop on my lunch break. The knowledge and friendliness of the staff was superb. Finiding a book in DC will be a more sterile, big-business experience without you.

  431. Jean Westcott Says:

    Man–going to miss you all. Been great working with all of you and Olsson’s customers are the best.

    Read Read Read and then read some more.

  432. tas Says:

    You will be missed!!!

  433. Ron C Says:

    I will miss you—enjoyed stopping in to the Courthouse location—

  434. Coralie Farlee Says:

    So very sorry and disappointing. I REALLY LIKED AND ENJOYED all the authors and products and sessions at the 7th St, NW store. Also have attended author events at DuPont Circle and Courthouse.
    What a sad day for independents!
    Whatever it is that will come in the space of those previous places will in NO WAY add to the educational and intellectual knowledge and experiences the way that Olsson’s did.
    Condolences to you and your employees.

  435. Pam Says:

    Thanks for 30 years. I will miss you.

  436. Debbi Says:

    I am sorry to see Olsson’s go. Your bookstore was refreshing with great titles and your staff was always knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and helpful.

  437. Nancy McCabe Says:

    Oh no, such unhappy news. You’ve been central to my life since moving into Arlington a few years ago. I will always remember you and your friendly and helpful service. Please remember me as a happy customer, who occasionally, but rarely, provided homemade cookies.
    With fond regrets, farewell.

  438. Allan Hockett Says:

    For over 20 years I frequented your stores for your selection, sincere, gracious and knowledgeable staff with the feeling that you were part of the Dupont Circle community. I never encountered a big box atmosphere - how could I in your place?

    I will remember you.

  439. Jane M. Byrne Says:

    It is a crying shame that you are closing! I have so many fond memories of looking through your sale racks, listening to your “listening station”, and eating at the Footnotes cafe at your Penn Quarter store.

    I also have fond memories of browsing in your store in Old Town-Alexandria, and your long-since-closed Georgetown location. I still remember the New Yorker cartoon taped to the Georgetown register where an irate bookstore customer says “No cafe latte? And you call yourself a bookstore?”

    Now Olsson’s has gone the way of DC Space, Penguin Feather Records, Hechts’, Woodies, etc. How sad, but we still have our memories. Godspeed Olssons’!

  440. Bolívar Lamounier Says:

    Though I live in South America, I used to travel many times to Washington, and always stopped at Olssons’s. It was my favorite book and record-store in the United States. The model - a small, cozy place..- was simply great. lI do hope that the store will eventually be reopened, and that the model will spread. Real book lovers don’t like massive piles of books in huge buildings.
    Thank you very much Olsson’s owners and staff.
    Bolívar Lamounier

  441. marsha lyons Says:

    Working across the street from the Dupont Circle store it was easy to dash in for the latest cd. I always got my music from you instead of Amazon because I believe small business is the backbone of this country. I will miss you.

  442. Adam Kress Says:

    Really Sad to see this happen… i loved coming to your book signings and hanging out in the cafe at the Penn Quarter. Thanks for many good evenings. Adam Kress

  443. Becky Squires Says:

    I feel as if I’ve lost a very close friend! No matter what else happened, Olsson’s was always there, providing book and music comfort food and/or information, whichever was required at the time.

    I thank you, I hope all the people to whom I’ve given books based on your recommendations thank you and I know for sure my two dogs, Bo and Ace, who love to visit you on S. Union St. in Old Town and get treats, thank you.

    You will be sorely missed.

  444. Katie G Says:

    I’m so sorry. Stinks. No sale days I guess.

    For what it’s worth, I loved your store and bought books, magazines, and my beloved academic year calendar that’s tough to find…there.

  445. joyce jones Says:

    i’m so sad to hear this news. it’s like learning of the death of a friend, sort of. i’ll miss the store very much. my heart breaks for you but perhaps you’ll start over! bonne chance!

  446. brigid quinn Says:

    i am sooooo sad. i love olssons. i have always bought the bulk of my books at olssons in dupont circle. and, since the big box book and other stores came on the scene, i have tried to go out of my way to continue to support olssons. in fact, earlier today i had just ordered a book from the mail order division, having no indication that closure was in the works. the best of luck to the owners and employees. you are a great group.

    any possibility that you can regroup with just one store, say in the dupont/logan area and bring in more authors, etc.

    thanks for bringing us books and records for nearly two score. hope you can relight the candle.

  447. Geordie Grindle Says:

    This is truly a sad day. My wife and I met while working at Olsson’s. We will always treasure our memories made while working there.

  448. Trevor Person Says:

    This is heartbreaking news. Olssons was my exclusive book & music provider since 1987. It was my exclusive provider by choice: premier selections, intelligent, erudite, & fun staff…DuPont, Old Town, Lansburgh locations were oases; refreshing, rejuvinating. Olssons served the national & global public interest in myriad ways. It’s been central in my Washington experience–& for countless others, I know.
    Thank you, John Olsson, & all your dedicated employees!!

  449. Lisa Says:

    Oh dear. I will miss your stores so much, most specifically the Old Town branch. I always made a point of buying all my books at Olsson’s to keep ya’ll in business, but I guess it wasn’t enough. :-) Thanks for keeping up the fight at long as you did.

  450. Elsa Bailey Says:

    How sad this news is! Although I no longer live in the Metro DC area, Olsson’s remains a very special part of my positive associations with DC. I have kept in touch through your always interesting updates, and through visiting your stores when I have meetings in DC. You set a wonderful standard for “the bookstore experience” and will be greatly missed! Good luck with future endeavors. Thank-you for all your contributions!

  451. Georgia Abraham Says:

    I’m so sorry. We cannot afford to lose another independent book store.

  452. Christiann Says:

    I used to live in Courthouse and come into Olsson’s often on my way home from work. I will really miss your store and excellent staff, who always had the greatest picks. I’m sorry to see you go, and wish everyone the best as you continue your separate journeys.

  453. Adriana Cordero Says:

    Olsson’s Books and Records in Old Town was my first job after I graduated from college in the 80’s.

    I met my husband Geordie Grindle when we were both working at Olsson’s in Georgetown, years ago, before the boutiques started filling up Wisconsin Ave.

    I met loads of interesting folks, whether I was working or just shopping there. I saw one of the Ramones, Nick Cave, and many other famous and not so famous musicians and authors who made Olssons a stop on their way through town.

    Olsson’s has been a great part of my life and I will miss the locally-owned book and record place I could count on.

  454. Tom Says:

    When I lived in DC in the ’80s, Olsson’s in Georgetown was my refuge. Cavernous, always well air-conditioned and well-stocked. My first stop there was always the water fountain with the “Frankie Goes to Hollywood” sticker and ice-cold refreshment. From there, into the main room, with well-selected books and records to choose from. I’d always leave with a red bag under my arm! Great memories to have. Thanks.

  455. Bob Kelly Says:

    Olsson’s was remarkable. It was one of those places in Alexandria that you never got tired of. It was always filled with interesting books, music, items, as well as people. So long Olsson’s. You’ll be missed.

  456. regina swygert-smith Says:

    The best bookstore in Washington…and now you’re gone, leaving us to those behemoths with tons of books but no one who knows where any of them are or knows anything about the book. We’ve been missing you in Bethesda for a while now but hoping that eventually, you’d be back in the area. Alas, it’s not to be. Thanks for taking such good care of those of us who love books.

  457. Laurie Calhoun Says:

    I’ve been a customer since 1979 and was so sad when the Georgetown store closed. Since then Dupont has been my regular store, but I went to all of them in DC and will really miss your excellent service. Best wishes to everyone and thanks for providing wonderful selection and service for so long.

  458. John DeLong Says:

    Sorry to hear this news; I have never been in any of your stores but have purchased books through the mail.
    It’s always sad to lose a book dealer.

    It probably would be better to have an Olsson’s Bailout rather than a Wall Street bailout.

  459. David Taylor Says:

    Like others above, I first entered the Georgetown store in the early 1980s and spent hours in the stacks finding new favorites. Olsson’s has given readers of DC good service.

    And it has given writers in DC great support. When my first book came out two years ago, I was so pleased to give a reading at the Old Town store, where my family made up half the audience. I was getting ready to give a reading of my new book there next month when I got this sad news.

    Thank you for everything! May the music and the word go on.

  460. Beverly Says:

    You guys have been great. Always friendly, quick on the special orders, forever a surprise in the jazz collection, and you even let go of a few posters when I was especially persistent. I will miss the funky vibe in the store and the distinctly local flava (can’t get that just anywhere!). All the best to you as you move on the next adventure!!

    Thanks for everything.

  461. Karen Says:

    How terribly sad..

    I am a huge fan of your stores (esp Courthouse) and newsletters. So often, you’ve pointed me to nuggets I would never have found otherwise but really enjoyed. Friends have appreciated the referral to you as well.

    Thanks for all your contributions, enriching my life and so many others’ over the years!

    I hope to join the community in welcoming your re-emergence someday soon.

  462. Ginny Atherton Says:

    I was a visitor from the west coast…loved your newsletter online. In a way similar to City Lights in SF, Olsson’s was a guest’s destination in D.C. Bookstores house the soul and pulse of a city, and for bibliophiles, are the face of a city.

  463. Catherine Wilson Says:

    Sad to see you guys go! I have known Olsson’s, primarily, through the Internet. You all have been wonderful to work with and this Texan will miss you. Thank you. My best to all the Olsson associates in their future endeavers.

  464. Bethanne Patrick Says:

    So very sad to hear this; among many memories, meeting David Sedaris at the Courthouse store was a highlight. Thanks for everything.

  465. Cynthia Ely Says:

    What a terrible loss for our community. Georgetown, Dupont and 7th Street were my favorites; one of my daughters was an employee once-upon-a-time! You created a haven for lovers of literature, music, and learning…and dedicated browsers.

  466. Don Gay Says:

    A real loss for all of the community. We will miss the convenience, the talks by authors, and the friendly and the helpful staff. I purchased a book earlier this week at National Airport and asked the manager how buisness was. She indicated that it was really good at that location. We will miss you.

  467. Louis Bayard Says:

    You will be sorely missed, my friends.

  468. Barry Craner Says:

    Sad to see you go. Enjoyed browsing, buying and the good snacks at your Lansburgh store. You will be sorely missed.

  469. BW Arlington Says:

    Thanks for all the good memories from Georgetown, Dupont Circle and Courthouse. I wish the staff members the best - you were great at selecting interesting books.

  470. Elisabeth Says:

    Thanks for the memories. I grew up with the Old Town shop and make a special visit every time I am in Alexandria. You will be missed terribly.

  471. Ethan Says:

    As evidenced by the five pitiful mourners, Olsson’s was a truly worthless institution. It had the feel of an unfriendly Volvo dealership; namely, low traffic and high prices. To hear that it closed isn’t surprising, only that it took so long to fold. I’d feel more pathos if my local Rite Aid closed.

  472. Conrad Says:

    Wow. Back when I worked in Georgetown, Olsson’s was the store that helped me fill out my Tom Waits collection–along with plenty of detours inspired by clerks with a genuine understanding of music who made consistently interesting suggestions. In later years, Olsson’s at National Airport was always a place I could find a great book that was also guaranteed *not* to be on anyone’s best seller list.

    You will be missed.

  473. Andrew Sigler Says:

    As a college student in the early 1990’s, I built an extensive classical music library almost exclusively based on the recommendations of Ted Richards at the Georgetown store. His knowledge was encyclopedic, and he was an incomparable resource. You can’t get that at a chain store. I lament the demise of a DC institution.

  474. Susan P Says:

    I sold my first Old Town yellow-pages ad to Olssons and I was a loyal customer for 16 years. You will be sorely missed.

  475. Joan Summers Says:

    I enjoyed shopping at Olsson’s bookstore. You had the best speakers ever. I heard Michael Moore and Julia Butterfly speak. I will never forget that! It meant alot to mean because I surrounded by people who don’t agree with my views and it was just refreshing to hear from quest speakers I admired.

  476. ctbeachbm Says:

    Sorry to see another DC institution go down. I imagine another generic chain store or tacky restaurant will open up in place of Olsson’s at Dupont. It’s very sad, but we are all to blame for not spending more money in these “mom and pop” stores.

  477. leigh kelsey Says:

    when i was in high school the old town olsson’s was one of THE go-to places to find all those rare import cd singles and british newspaper & magazines i was looking for. as the years went by and i started working at now! music and fashion in clarendon (also defunct because of similar reasons), i met and became friends with some employees at the court house location, got to see how awesome of a family they all were. this mostly makes me sad for all of their employees and their families. :(

  478. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks for fighting the good fight for 36 years. In the mid 80s I used to make trips from out of town just to go to Olsson’s, the Georgetown branch. What a great place, a big part of DC, for me. Thanks for making it that way.

  479. Ian Ories Says:

    So sorry to see this happen. But it’s a fact of today’s market. There was actually no way, in the long-run, to compete against Borders and Amazon.

    It was only a couple years ago that the Olsson’s opened here in Crystal City, and its closing will be a big loss.

  480. Rusty Rowley Says:

    Olssons was the best book store in town and introduced me to so many great new authors and books.

    Thanks for all the great years and good luck in your future endeavors.

  481. Dave Julian Says:

    I remember hitting Olsson’s in Old Town in junior high in the late 70’s - it was always an Old Town institution.

    I now work in Courthouse and loved popping in from time to time at the Courthouse location. I was absolutely stunned when I read the sign posted at the door; I was just in there yesterday buying books for the family.

    Thanks for 30+ years of great service, Olsson’s. We’ll miss you.

  482. Louisa Rowland Says:

    Tears come to the eyes of this little old lady. I go back with
    you all those years when you first started out on the circle. I’ll miss you guys. It was wonderful to have you downstairs. I went to all your stores. The books, music, the beautiful cards. And the staff, they were wonderful. I wish all of you the very best. May God Bless YOu All.

  483. Greg McElhatton Says:

    I was so sorry to hear the news — Olsson’s in Courthouse is where I’ve been buying books for years, and I have such fond memories of signings hosted by the store over the years. (Especially Jef Mallett, Sarah Grace McCandless, and Mike Carey.)

    It was a good run, and I’m sorry to see the store go.

  484. JP Says:

    Hands down the best group of people to work with. Courthouse represent

  485. Peter Montgomery Says:

    This news makes me tremendously sad. I became a customer of the Georgetown store in the early 1980s when I was a college student, and I’ve been a regular customer of the Dupont Circle store for years. Thanks to the many knowledgeable and friendly staff who have done special orders for me over the years. Best wishes to all of you. Damn.

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