By Sue Moore
Denny Olson is a guy with an insatiable thirst for information that old books contain. He used to read four newspapers a day before 9/11, which he says changed him forever. “I like to know what’s going on. It’s important to be informed locally and nationally to have a say-so in your own community,” Olson said.
This need to treasure old books for their wisdom and knowledge has led him to open a business in Vicksburg on 108 West Highway street to sell part of his collection. That means downsizing from three storage units, a basement full of books in his home in Vicksburg to his big van full of treasures. He uses the van to transport his considerable library to antique shows throughout southwest Michigan.
The new store features a little bit of everything, Olson says. “I go to estate sales and grab whatever catches my fancy and have it for sale in my store now. You never know what you will find hidden away.” His specialties are vintage paperbacks and hard cover books, priced about 17 percent lower than Amazon or other online offerings.
“I enjoy researching the rare books. I want to know why the author wrote a certain book. This is the fun part by learning all the facts I can and become the keeper and dispenser of knowledge. Some people call me a hoarder but it’s not hoarding when it’s my stock. I love my books and am intrigued with the smidgen of dust on the top. It’s like cocaine. It’s addictive. I’ve just got to go find even more books,” he explains.
His wife, Karen Nay, also sells old books online, with Denny doing much of the research in his spare time. She specializes in history and religion books. “There’s a story behind every book and that’s what sells,” he believes. “Together we have enough books to fill the whole high school building in Vicksburg. What you see here in the store is only 10 percent of my collection.”
“It is interesting and fun going to estate sales where you can touch peoples’ lives,” he says. “Just recently I found a box of old photos and postcards belonging to a 92-year-old woman. They were her mom’s photos of the Haas family that is well known in this area. There was a picture of a man in a uniform with a sword by his side from the Spanish-American War. That picture by itself was probably worth $200, I told her.”
Olson and his five brothers and sisters graduated from Vicksburg High School, having moved here from Parchment when they were little. Owning a business runs in his family, he said. He met Karen in Battle Creek, where she had a small book business; she had asked him for help to further it along. They have since become vendors at antique fairs in Allegan, Centreville and in St. Joseph at its Antiques on the Bluff show. He has about 5,000 books at Treasure Hunters for sale in Three Rivers too. He opened the store in Vicksburg in November because he just got the bug to be a storekeeper, he said. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The business attracts shoppers from as far away as South Bend, Ft. Wayne, Grand Rapids and Doerr as well as Portage, Kalamazoo and Vicksburg. He can be reached at 269-267-6131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.