Bookstore tourists: Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, CA!
By Michael on August 24th, 2012
When you hit up a travel spot, is a bookstore one of the first places you visit? And does it tell you a lot about the city or town you’re in? We think so!
Bookstores are uniquely suited to represent the character of a destination in their design, staff and most importantly, book selection. The experience of a bookstore, and by extension a vacation, can live on the pages of a mystery set in a sleepy little seaside town or even a far-off adventure read on its beaches.
It’s our last trip of the summer and we’re off to LA. Sunblock? Check Movie star good looks? OF COURSE! Book in hand? Well, we wouldn’t be OOM-ers without one. Just call us the Bookstore Tourists!
At 117 years, Vroman’s Bookstore is certainly the oldest we’ve featured. ‘ Allison Hill, who is the President and COO of Vroman’s, sent me the great picture above, showing Vroman’s in it’s early days. The Vroman’s she describes today, though, is a modern and interactive bookstore that definitely seems to to have kept up with the times. (After all, she sent me links to their blog, Twitter and Facebook.) In fact, Allison told me her favorite section of the store is called The Edge – “The section helps people discover books that might get overlooked in traditional sections, and it’s a very energetic, dynamic expression of the best of bookselling.”
Vroman’s keeps up with their customers too. Allison has a daily visitor to the store who has shopped with them for 88 years- since she was 5. “She buys a coffee, browses books, buys a greeting card or a book or two, and chats with staff. She’s like family to us.”
You’ll notice in the picture to the right that Vroman’s has grown in those years. It’s current location is a lot bigger at 30,000 square feet and includes a Café, event space, children’s department with a play area and a brand new area for pens and stationery. (Interestly, this area was rebuilt using existing fixtures and they only had to purchase 1 new piece of wood!) There’s also a patio outdoors where they host jazz concerts, outdoor events and even a summer camp for kids!
Inside, there’s a team of over 100 booksellers make it as bright and sunny as it is outside! That’s also helped along by skylights, large windows and high ceilings! The central staircase also features displays from locals artists.
So what are they selling at Vroman’s?
Allison tells me she loves recommending I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. “Deadpan. Understated. Mischievous. Wonderful illustrations.” She joins several of our other bookstore tourist guests in recommending Wonderstruck.
She’s also a fan of The Paper Bag Princess. “It’s one of my favorite books and I love giving it as a gift.” She also loves The Pout-Pout Fish. She says: “It makes me smile every time I read it. Growing up, my favorites were The Chronicles of Narnia, A.A. Milne’s poetry When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six and The Phantom Tollbooth. Those are still some of my favorite books of all time. And they definitely contributed to me growing up to be a writer and a bookseller.”
So if you are in Southern California, we hope you get a chance to visit Vroman’s and see Allison in action!
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