The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A D.C. Dream Day with Loyalty Bookstore’s Hannah Oliver Depp

In D.C. Dream Day, we ask our favorite people in the area to tell us how they would spend a perfect day in the District.

Hannah Oliver Depp ’s shop, Loyalty Bookstore , was supposed to be a temporary holiday pop-up when it opened two years ago in downtown Silver Spring. But it became so popular that she opened a permanent location in February 2019 in Petworth , inside Upshur Street Books’ former space (where Depp worked as a former managing partner alongside owner Paul Ruppert).

“I have family in Silver Spring and Takoma and had memories at the Borders in the area for years,” says Depp, 33. “While an independent bookstore is different than a Borders, [Loyalty] gave me the chance to try to reflect the wonderful, diverse and international community that Silver Spring has.”

That diversity continues to shine through at Loyalty, which offers a range of popular titles such as Margaret Atwood’s “The Testaments” alongside more obscure works.

“The concept behind the store is that we will both listen to, and push, our communities outside of their comfort zone,” she says. “Our staff is intimately familiar with the books on the shelf.”

And that concept continues to grow. Depp is in the process of expanding her Petworth store and celebrating the soft opening of her new Silver Spring location. On her D.C. dream day, Depp would be far away from work — but still very much engrossed in bookstores.

How do indie bookstores compete with Amazon? Personality — and a sense of community.

I would start the day off by walking my dog. It is one of the few things that gets me of out of my head a little bit. Then, I would definitely go to Jackie Lee’s, which is on Kennedy Street [NW]. They have full, decadent breakfast burritos and french fries and great bloody marys and mimosas. It’s all very, very nicely budgeted and the bartenders are all wonderful people.

One thing that I like to do is go to bookstores that are very dissimilar to mine. For one thing, it helps me generate ideas and think of books that maybe I haven’t heard of. There’s a great store called Walls of Books on Georgia Avenue [NW] that has new and used books, and it’s a POC-owned store. The great thing about going to a store like that, is you walk in and it’s pure discovery, I’m not going to walk in necessarily and have a list of things I should read — I get to just find something. [Petworth News reported that Walls of Books closed on Feb. 2.]

I would visit Sankofa. It’s a little pilgrimage-y not because it’s far from me at all, but because I think a lot of us hold it kind of as the motherland that has survived gentrification and has been a beacon. If I want to find a book that I have never heard of before, I will definitely find it at Sankofa. It’s got a whole cultural atmosphere of music and film and textiles. You walk in and you’re immediately enveloped into its atmosphere.

There is a D.C. creator, [Torie Partridge], who does those beautiful maps of different neighborhoods in the city. She has a shop that’s very close to where Sankofa is, Cherry Blossom Creative, and she has the best stationery. I would go in and pick out some new stationery and new pens.

When I was living in New York, the thing I was angry about was paying for museums! My favorite place to go in D.C. is the [National] Portrait Gallery. There’s so much art, obviously, but the building itself is lovely. You can hang out in the atrium and just be surrounded by beautiful sounds and the music of all the people coming in and out. While I’m in that part of town, I would make sure to say hi to Barack and Michelle [Obama]. Sometimes it’s very comforting just to go talk to them.

I think I’ve finally seen everything at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, but it’s taken several trips. The last time I went, I actually stayed on the third floor which has sort of like our cultural touchstone. I left that floor feeling so good. And so, since it’s a dream day, I would walk around the third floor and be on a high from African American culture.

Then, I would be hungry again. Andrene’s is so, so good. There’s coco bread, amazing jerk chicken, fried plantains. The curried goat is my favorite thing from there.

By now it’s late, and I need some coffee. I would start heading home and absolutely stop at Qualia Coffee. Then I would head over the Red Derby, a wonderful dive bar that’s been around for a long time. They have yummy fish tacos, so I would stuff my face for the third time that day with zero regrets. I would be within walking distance from home, so I would take my dog for my end of day walk.