City Desk

Olsson’s Set To File For Bankruptcy


Ugh. Olsson's isn't just leaving its great Penn Quarter spot. The great local book-and-record chain will soon be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The Post writes:

Olsson's Books, one of the oldest independent booksellers in Washington, plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, founder John Olsson said yesterday.

Pressed by creditors who have filed claims against the company's inventories and by rising overhead costs, Olsson's is closing at least one store and will evaluate its ability to operate its remaining five properties, an attorney for the company said.

"The book business is getting a little soft. It's not selling as much as it used to," Olsson said. "Our music sales went from 50 percent of our business to maybe 15. We lost a lot of revenue, and at the same time rents went up and real estate taxes went up. I don't know what we would have done differently. It's a killer."

Let's hope Olsson's sticks it out. But it sounds like they are done. The chain owes a ton of dough and major publishers aren't pleased. If one reads the listservs regularly, residents clamor for a lot of things: decent restaurants, good schools, etc. But they are always hungry for a book store. Always.

It's ironic that this local chain has helped make many a neighborhood liveable–Dupont, Bethesda, Alexandria, etc.–is now slowly dying out. The chain had nine stores in 2002. Now they have five.

*photo courtesy of Keith Stanley.

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  • thepenismightier

    um, douche? Dupont and Bethesda were liveable long before and will be long after the departure of Olsson's (which has been gone from Bethesda for several years). I've also heard good things about Alexandria in years past and recently. Evolution's a bitch.

  • JMurphy

    Um, 7th street, on the other hand, was basically an open-air drug market before Olsson's and a handful of other indy businesses (most of whom have been shown the door by rapacious landlords since the area took off) moved in.
    Also: enjoy that "evolution" when Borders (any minute now) and B&N (shortly thereafter) collapse like the Wall-Street run, unsustainable pyramid schemes they are. They're already gutting their inventories.

    I now live in LA, supposed to be the most fatuous city in the world, and its inhabitants show far more devotion to its literary culture and independent bookstores than DC ever did. Hope you guys support P&P, if only to prevent the shame of having no real bookstore in the nation's capital.