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Olsen’s Scandinavian Foods announces it will close

Posted by Geeky Swedes on June 20th, 2009

As feared, the owners of Olsen’s Scandinavian Foods announced today “with deep regret” that they’re calling it quits after 49 years in business. “The decision to close has been a difficult one,” said Reidun and Anita Endresen in a letter to customers. “As you may have heard, we have been attempting to sell within the family. However, for various reasons this is not possible.”

Olsen’s has been a staple of Scandinavian culture here in Ballard since Einar Johnsen opened the store in 1960. Just last month, the Norwegian Ambassador snacked at Olsen’s after the Syttende Mai parade. Today, a sign in the window announces the store’s closure with a sale of up to 25 percent off. The store expects to close sometime in mid to late July.

A painting of the Endresen sisters hangs above a gift display in the store. “We would like to thank all of our wonderful and valued customers and commitment throughout the years,” the Endresen’s write. “Without you we would have never had so many great memories and experiences.” Do you have a memory of Olsen’s to share? Leave it in comments below.

Plus: We added Olsen’s to the Ballard Business Tracker map.

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91 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 Alisa // Jun 24, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    It is not nearly as challenging as dealing with the condos and the people like you.

  • 2 someoneclose // Jun 24, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    They tried on several sundays to keep the store open but it didn't have much buisness. It cost more to keep the store open then what they made for the day…. There were alot of things that could have been changed to make extra money but the sisters were ready to be done, They have both worked there for over 20 years and just wasn't willing to keep doing it another 20. Anita's son wanted to take the store over but because he had no assets (House) he was unable to get a loan. Lets just say that the amount he was asking for was very small and the local Norweigian bank Viking Bank couldn't even help. That's pretty sad when you've got the biggest part of the norweigian community trying to stay alive and the norweigian local bank can't help out….. WOW the buisness was there for 49 years and they didn't think he could make it another 49……

  • 3 Billy // Jun 24, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Hey Alisa, as a certified yuppie, I'll raise a $4 latte to toast your suffering at the hands of us evil outsiders who have invaded your Ballard. Clearly you own the place and all history here begins and ends with YOU!

    Maybe we can add a booth at Seafest: Come through expensive yuppie pet toys at the serving angry native.

  • 4 Billy // Jun 24, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    'throw expensive……'

  • 5 Jules // Jun 25, 2009 at 7:41 am

    Well, Viking Bank is closely allied to the other Scandinavian store, Scandinavian Specialties. No suprise there.

  • 6 ExiledBrit // Jun 27, 2009 at 6:39 am

    Don't feed the trolls Alisa!

    We all know there is plenty of room for everyone in Ballard, even the yuppies, God bless their pointy little heads!

    And as for the Scandies, heck, I enjoy watching the Syttende Mai parade even though I'm a Brit, I just enjoy a bit of civic pride.

  • 7 Lush123 // Jun 30, 2009 at 1:35 am


  • 8 lindaskugstad // Oct 18, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    This is old news by now, but we just found out about Olsen's today, October 18, 2009, while shopping at the Ballard Market. I am very sorry to see Olsen's Scandinavian Foods close. My parents were from Norway (they are deceased now) and immigrated to the U.S. after WWII, 1947 to be exact. My sister and I were born in Seattle and Olsen's, which use to be Johnsen's was a store our Mother shopped at for years, until she and our father retired and went back to Stavanger, Norway. For many years our family was absent from Seattle, living in Norway and other parts of the world, but have since returned back to the Northwest in the early 90's. We picked up where we left off so to speak, and went back to shopping at Olsen's every time we were in Ballard area. I live further north of Seattle about 20 miles, and my sister lives in Calgary, Alberta Canada, so neither of us had regular visits to Olsen's, but still we would try to get down to Ballard at least 3 times a year or more. Where do we go now? Very, very sorry to hear that Olsen's is closed.

  • 9 erikaeie // Dec 17, 2009 at 2:04 am

    Deeply deeply saddened by this news, which I realize is much overdue! I moved to another state for these last six months and I never heard that the store closed until I tried to call them just today.

    Great memories of eating the polse here on 17th of May and also dragging my boyfriend through the shop to make him eat pickled herring, etc.

    I'm moving back to Seattle soon and I had always hoped to move close to Olsen's. Now I have no real reason to move to Ballard. *Sigh*

    Thanks for all the great food/memories/very friendly staff.

  • 10 TheScrutinizer // May 18, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I was at Syttende Mai yesterday and was shocked to find Olsen’s gone.

    I walked right past a stand selling polse m/lompe og Solo, determined to get mine at Olsen’s where I’ve gotten it every year I can remember.

    When I saw a Mexican food joint in their space something inside me felt like it had died.

    As a person of Scandinavian descent I am truly saddened. Where will I get my Marzipan brod and kjottkaker?

    Where will I go to practice what little Norwegian I know?

    Uff for meg.

  • 11 Bjorn // Jul 16, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Hello, I had written in late June of last year to this forum, but cannot see my post any longer. Perhaps representing my business is not accepted. My original statement had been an invitiation to come visit my store on 67th and 15th. Scandinavian Specialties. We are a a gift store, a cafe and a grocer. We have all that Olsens once had and much much more. Our business has been a fixture of the Ballard community for 50 years. Please come visit our family store for any Scandinavian needs you may have. We havew Krokan Is for the summertime, come give it a try!

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