Student news of Olympia High School

The Olympus

Student news of Olympia High School

The Olympus

Student news of Olympia High School

The Olympus

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Downtown Olympia’s book stores

Orca Books v. Browsers… which is better?
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Olympia’s community is full of people who delve into all sorts of genres spanning from historical fiction to fantasy. Their bookish cravings are satisfied in different forms across the city. From corporations to co-ops, Olympia has some best-selling bookstores worth a visit.

Other than Barnes and Noble, Olympia has a wide library of bookstores. Browser’s Books and Orca Co-op are just some key options. Each demonstrates a different genre to the market.

Browsers Books, located downtown on Capital Boulevard. This bookstore is neatly organized and has a precise system as to where the books are located. There are signs located above each aisle inside the store, indicating where each genre can be found. Signs like science fiction, fantasy, biography, and more. Browsers’ also happens to have hosted the OHS poetry club during arts walk. The students set up a table selling chapbooks and selling past issues of Ursa.

Poetry club at Arts Walk selling their chapbooks and old Ursa literary magazines outside Browsers.

“It’s really different than Barnes and Noble. [They] have corporate headquarters and they tell you exactly what books to have on stock and where to place them on a table,” stated Andrea Griffith, the fourth owner of Browsers Books. It’s an independent and local business that comes with its own challenges. Griffith explains that “we pride ourselves on knowing our community and knowing what they like to read.”

Browsers’ community is tied to the store. “We get a lot of brand new parents [whose] first outing with their newborn is here. Our customers are newborns to people in their nineties,” Griffith elaborated. “We pride ourselves on knowing our community.” Browsers has been downtown since 1935 and moved into its current location in the 70s. All four of its owners have been women.

Orca Books can be found on 5th Avenue next to Rainy Day Records. It’s hard to miss as it has a spirited and vibrant orca mural right on its wall. Orca is a co-op that trades books for store credit. They use a member-owned cooperative business model. “This means there is no boss and the staff consists of 4 worker members who run things together,” says Johnny Atlas, one of the worker members at Orca Books.

Co-ops tend to draw customers in knowing they are supporting a business built on community. Orca provides fulfilling jobs to their employees and uses customer memberships to stay afloat.

Orca has been in Olympia for 20-30 years, starting in the 90’s. Atlas says working there is super fun as many of the working members are not only readers but writers as well. He continues that it’s nice since they “don’t have to deal with the headaches of a hierarchical structure where there is a boss or company calling the shots.”

The famous library cat, Orlando, was a rescue and moved in about 10 years ago. “He is the star of the show,” jokes Atlas. Orlando attracts many customers as people often stop by to say hi to him. Orca is looking to get Orlando a coworker to help take care of the store.

A survey at school showed that students at OHS feel that Browsers is fancy and organized while Orca Books provides a comforting smell and is convenient with a wide variety of books. They all agree that secondhand books have a special place in their heart.

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