Browsers Bookshop has been in downtown Olympia for 80 years. In that 80 years, four different women have owned the store. Andrea Y. Griffith, a former medical librarian bought the shop in late
2014 with her husband Telfer and his parents, Chris and Mendy Griffith.
Browsers Bookshop originally began in Aberdeen in 1928 as Anna Blom’s Book Shop. Anna was a Russian Jewish immigrant, born in 1884. She was self-educated, well-read and intelligent. After she divorced and with two young children, she relocated her bookstore to Olympia in 1935 on the advice of the Washington Supreme Court Judge Walter Beals, who thought Olympia might better support a bookshop during the Depression.
Anna Blom’s Bookshop was first located on east Fourth Avenue, about three blocks east of Capitol Way. At some point it moved to the corner of Washington and Legion where Drees is now located. In 1968, Anna began to have eye trouble and sold her shop to Ilene Yates, a former schoolteacher who changed the name of the shop to Browsers. In 1979, Ilene bought the building where Browsers is now, 107 Capitol Way. The building was for many years a tavern and needed quite a lot of work in order to make the transition from bar to bookstore. Only the front half of the shop was used and when Jenifer Stewart, one of Ilene’s employees, bought the shop in 1985, she worked to renovate the back half to also house books. Jenifer raised her two daughters while running the shop for nearly 30 years.
**Jenifer Stewart provided much of the detail on the history of the shop.