Saturday, September 6, 2014

Vroman's Bookstore - Pasadena, CA

Vroman's Bookstore - Pasadena, CA

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So Vroman's in Pasadena is an independent bookstore?  Really?  No way!  Come on, they have administrative offices!  They have a RECEPTIONIST, for crying out loud.  I walk into the store resigned to the fact that I'll be lucky to meet a private in the chain of command, let alone anyone higher.  But readers, I hit the trifecta.  Joel S., Allison H., and Sherri G., owner, president and CEO, and book buyer respectively.  It took me awhile to get through the corporate hoops here at this indie but once I did, my wonderful day at Vroman's was underway.

Sherri gave me a great tour of this two-level store.  This indie is much more than books and has been pretty much since its inception.  The extras, or sidelines, are numerous and plentiful.  There is a great book area on the main level but books are also scattered throughout all areas of the store.  Take your kids upstairs to a wonderful children's area that includes more than just books.  You'll also find a great area where the store hosts author events and those are quite numerous here.  You'll also find aisles of greeting cards and many items that will attract women customers, like Vera Bradley purses and bags.  The administrative offices are also upstairs (can't believe I'm writing that in a post about indies!).  They've embraced technology here with accessories for many of those devices and also offer Kobo reader devices.  The extras are so numerous here it is almost like a scaled down gift shop/department store and Vroman's does this quite well.

Back on the main level you'll only find new books.  Used books are not offered here but there are used bookstores in the area that fill that void and price option.  This bookstore is located on Colorado Blvd., part of the route for the Rose Parade, in an affluent community.  Local support here is strong and I see no reason for this to change.  The main level also has a wonderful coffee shop that you can get to through the store or through its own entrance on Colorado Blvd.  Vroman's has it figured out (they have been here since 1894) and it starts with the great people at the top.  Joel, the owner, is a relative of one of the original employees, Allison H., the president and CEO here also owns Book Soup in West Hollywood, and Sherri G. is the book buyer here.  I cannot thank them enough for their enthusiasm during my visit, their kindness extended, and the sharing of their time and knowledge.  Most regular customers probably don't get to meet these three so I feel very fortunate that I was able to meet them during my visit.  It's easy to see that when discussions turn to independent bookstores, Vroman's is always in the conversation as one of the best.  These three people are one of the reasons why.  Kudos to you Joel, Allison, and Sherri, as well as all the others at Vroman's who came before you.  You guys are the best!

What else?  Socks are sold here, which seems to be an indie staple.  And for you readers keeping a cat count this indie doesn't' have one.  But what great books, gifts, extras, and wonderful people.  Grab your free parking spot in back and then go in and enjoy a wonderful time at Vroman's, a proud INDEPENDENT bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Dinner, Herman Koch.  Liking it.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Vroman's of Pasadena, Jane Apostol.  Already read it and loved it.  The history of Vroman's Bookstore.  The Son, Philipp Meyer.

A great newsstand on the outside.  

My view upon entering.  

Reserve this table to talk about books or do what I did and wait here to meet Sherri.  

Always great to find a place to sit and try out a book.  

Many indies offer t-shirts and book bags with out of print book covers on them.  

Lots of sidelines here and lots of choices.  

Many indies offer tech accessories to go along with great book inventories.  

Towards the rear of the main level with lots of sidelines.  

Very popular area for customers looking for books.  

A wonderful cafĂ© on site.  

The Vroman's Bookmobile, no longer in existence.  Sadly, the whereabouts of this trailer is unknown.  

A great area on the 2nd level for author events.  

Part of the children's section that has more than just books.  

This place is great!  What 4-year old wouldn't want to hang out here?!

Aisles of greeting cards.  

Come and get it ladies.  Multiple styles and colors on the 2nd floor.  

Yes, mothers can take that 4-year old to their area of the store and then they can browse the Vera Bradley collection.  

Yes, there are administrative offices.  Yes, this is an independent bookstore.  Yes, the math didn't work for me either!

Limited budget?  You can still get a book at Vroman's.  Check out the bargain books.  

Three rock stars and one devoted fan.  L-R, Joel S., owner; Sherri G., book buyer; a customer; Allison H., president and CEO.  You guys rock!


  1. Hey Bob! Just read about your blog in the CR Gazette. What a fun journey you're on. Nice to know that you keep so busy between gigs with Funk Stop! :-) I look forward to catching up on reading some of the other places you've visited in your quest to see the indie bookstores of the world. Safe travels,. Kris Hale, Marion, IA

  2. Thanks for your comments, Kris. I'm definitely having a blast doing this. Thanks for reading and thanks for following. Bob

  3. Hi Bob! We just wanted to say thank you again for visiting Vroman's and writing this great post about the store. We appreciate the love. Good luck with the rest of your stops! We love reading them all!

    1. Thanks for your nice comments and thanks for following. Great bookstores have nice people and that's part of the success at Vroman's. My journey is just beginning! Bob