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21 August 2019

PASADENA WOW! Published by Pasadena Now

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Vroman’s Bookstore


695 East Colorado Boulevard Pasadena, CA 91101

(626) 449-5320

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All About Us!

Vroman’s Bookstore was founded on November 14, 1894 by Adam Clark Vroman, located at 60 E Colorado Street, a few blocks west of its current location. Born in 1856 in La Salle, Illinois, Vroman moved to Pasadena, California in the late 1800s to improve his wife’s health. When she died two years later, he sold his book collection to raise the capital to open the bookstore. The store also sold photographic supplies. Vroman was a passionate photographer, specializing in scenes of the American West and portraits of Native Americans. Ansel Adams called Vroman an influence on his own work and Vroman’s work hangs in both the Huntington and the Southwest Museum. Once the store became profitable, Vroman returned to book collecting, donating his massive collection to Pasadena Public Library when he passed away.

Vroman was also extremely generous and committed to philanthropy. He helped to rescue some of the old Franciscan missions from decay; as an active member of the Historical Society of Southern California, he helped establish the Southwest Museum; and he was a supporter of the Pasadena Public Library. There’s even a story of him loaning money to a competitor, and helping him establish credit with vendors, so that he could start a rival bookstore.

Vroman’s Bookstore holds an important place in Southern California’s history. Through the years, it has continued to be an independently owned family business, expanding several times, opening a stationery supply store and a second bookstore location in the Hastings Ranch area of Pasadena. In 2009, Vroman’s bought another well known independent bookstore, Book Soup in West Hollywood, after its owner died and the store was in danger of closing. For many years, Vroman’s was the largest bookstore west of the Mississippi, and it continues to be the oldest and largest independent bookstore in Southern California. During World War II, Vroman’s donated and delivered books to Japanese Americans interned at nearby camps, returning on several occasions despite being fired upon by camp guards. Vroman’s was the first bookstore in the country to have a computerized inventory, and one of the first independent bookstores to implement streamlining efforts like license plate receiving (a computerized receiving method that improves efficiency).

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