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Before there were Dollar Stores and chains galore

Before there were Dollar Stores, before there were Starbucks, before there were cinemas in the Mall, before there were Target and Walmart and Netflix—there were three towns with quirky entrepreneurs and room for everyone.

We grabbed some memories from Reddit and elsewhere to give you a hint of what we’re missing—in the words of some who were there—a scrap, an image, a haunting taste. It might spark a conversation about changes—or a few reflections of your own.

There was a time when all roads led to Downtown Oly.

OFS in 1998, with an iconic band playing 2001 SNOWBOUND, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Back when the Olympia Yard Birds was called “Sea Mart,” J.P. Patches and Gertrude made a public appearance there. It was great to see them live.

Making my mom take me to Yardbirds because they had a coupon for a 9-cent goldfish. Boy Scout badges and rubber boots. Bought a rabbit there and my first puppy ($10). Used to spend my allowance on GI Joe’s and fishing tackle there.

the freight train leaving downtown over the I5 trestle to Union Mills, dank brewery smells, shopping at yardbirds, $1 State theater.

The farmers market on the train platform at Plum and Union. How about the farmer’s market when it was stalls in a parking lot. There was a point in the year when my Dad would take me and I would get to hold baby chicks.

The State was the dollar movie, then the $1.25 movie, then closed.

Various local BnBs from pre-internet days: The Oasis, Mandrake-Belladonna, Columbia Crest.

That warehouse behind Capitol Lake grocery where Eddie Vedder played.

The Spar was a sketchy cigar bar full of grizzled fishermen. And the Highclimber room! Bar with local musicians on tap.

Under 21 staying up after hours with bad coffee in the tolerant booths at King Sol’s.

Thekla “Enter in Rear” posted at the front door. ” Before that it was the Vortex. Then later briefly a bank??

Downtown with no fucking parking meters!

I really miss the old downtown parking strategy: two hours free, once a day. It kept people from camping the spots near where they worked, but still made it easy to hop downtown for something.

That “Sketchy Safeway” but it was right there.

Bulldog News when it had a second floor you could go up there and read, or meet someone. It had an area for local zines and newspapers from everywhere. I worked at Bulldog News and would go to the Spar for breakfast before my shifts. They had the best breakfast.

Backstage at the Capitol Theater. We used to pile in that joint, torn jeans and flannels, at $5/head a couple times per week to rock out. Clinging desperately to that shitty couch perched precariously above the crowd, as we learned why chugging mad dog 2020 and then smoking a joint was a terrible idea. I saw Gas Huffer, Tall Toad, Seaweed, a ton of bands at the Capitol Theater.

Swimming and sailing lessons for kids on Capital Lake. Families bringing a picnic and kids wading in the lake.

Batdorf and Bronson in the space where the Nom-Nom Deli is. There was always a line you were happy to stand in because the coffee. The pastries were small but excellent. .

It was surreal when the BEST space was the Procession art studio. So much room, lots of the old merchandising stuff left.

The Angelus Apartments. First I shared a one-room with kitchen. Then I had my own one-room with a kitchen. And then I had a one -room with a kitchen and full bath. That place was creepy and awesome.

What about positively 4th Street? The 4th Ave Tav when everybody went there after work and stayed for the music and dancing. Ben Moore’s where the owner gave everyone a huge burger and fries for $5.

Ate at Crackers. Ate at Alice’s out off the Skookumchuck. Ate at 7 Gables.

k records valentines party. Al Larsen of the band Some Velvet Sidewalk was part of the K Roster. In 1989, he wrote an article for the Snipehunt zine that distinguished K’s approach to “punk” music: “It’s a scary world, but we don’t need to be scared anymore. We need active visionary protest, we need to grab hold and make the transformation, from complaining that there is NO FUTURE to insisting there be a future.”

The Smithfield Cafe where S.J. made massive soup every day and an amazing hummus burrito with cheese and avocado. I had an account there so my son could stop and eat after his summer job cutting tansy ragwort and S.J. would just subtract the bill.

The pool hall by Westside Lanes and Giggling Goose, taken over by the Dollar Store.

Renting videos at Rainy Day Records. Waiting for the mid-week sale at Hollywood Video then BlockBuster.

Before Iron Rabbit it was Burrito Heaven that was a Skippers before that. You can still see it in the layout a little bit.

When Gross Out was a Value Village and Vic’s was the Asterisk. And before that a local drug store where people posted “help wanted” notes and Peterson’s grocery.

The Westside Denny’s cocktail lounge

Shipwreck Beads in its Mud Bay Road location, a tiny nautical-themed building.

The cavernous Treasure Chest, stuffed to the rafters with the most amazing amount of vintage furniture and other random crap.

There was this little Chinese place in the Capitol Mall food court that had the best noodles and it was like $2 for a whole plate of them. It was a middle schooler’s dream. We’d ride Intercity Transit there to hang out and eat those noodles! Omg yes!! They put in Asian allspice that made it unique. I can still taste it. Best noodles ever. I REMEMBER THIS. I still think about it sometimes.

Cutting Christmas trees in the forest where Top foods/Haggens is now.

Does anyone remember the gravel pit down by Hansen Elementary? That was the hang-out spot in high school.

Super Saturday at Evergreen graduation. Ahhhh. I really miss this.

I miss that “cereal” smell from the brewery. The whistle would go off at 8 am, noon, 12;30 and 5 PM-Sat. I could hear it inside, over the shower.

Bigfoot bumper boats during the summer where Taco Bell is now at Southgate, when Black Hills High was being built.

When Tumwater Hill was a beautiful forest.

South Sound Mall! People’s and the Red Bull and the green tile fountains and Buster Brown shoe store that had a little fish tank in the wall!!! And Nordstrom Place II.

Still miss that huge rock that used to sit where the Dominos pizza is now. (College & Martin Way)

Lacey Blvd and Pacific weren’t one-ways.

How many people remember going to the drive in theater that used to be where the Lacey Fred Meyers is?

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