I spent most of my adolescent years in South Pasadena, which is geographically south of Pasadena. Yes, sometimes I need to explicitly inform people of the location–probably due to the city’s small area of only 3.42 square miles and population of roughly 25,000, which is even fewer than Long Beach State’s student population. However, South Pasadena is not my focus today. Instead, I would like to introduce you to its neighboring city: Pasadena.
Pasadena is the ninth-largest city in Los Angeles County, and serves as one of the cultural centers of San Gabriel Valley. This city offers many entertainments for its surrounding cities; one of which includes the Vroman’s Bookstore. Claiming to be Southern California’s oldest and largest independent bookstore, Vroman’s Bookstore was founded in 1894 by Adam Clark Vroman. As I looked into the history of the bookstore, I learned that Mr. Vroman loved books and loved giving back to his community. He apparently helped to rescue some of the old Franciscan missions from deca, helped establish the Southwest Museum (which is now part of the Autry Museum), and he was a great supporter of the Pasadena Public Library. On a side note, the Autry Museum of the American West is a museum dedicated to exploring an inclusive history of the American West and is located in Los Angeles.
I especially admire the fact the bookstore has remained an independently owned family business, and that Mr. Vroman’s legacy of philanthropy continues into the present day. Through its website, one can find out the store has supported a variety of causes and institutions including food drives, holiday gift drives, HIV testing, bone marrow donor match drives, school book fairs, and the Vroman’s Gives Back program. This program donates a portion of customers’ purchases to local nonprofits, including public radio stations, art centers, family services, and program supporting literacy. To throw out some numbers, Vroman’s has donated over $665,998 on behalf of its customers.
As I stepped into the bookstore, I was pleasantly surprised by wide range of gifts they offer, including various stationery, cards, fine writing instruments (what I ended up purchasing for my friend’s birthday), jewelry, handmade gifts, and fair trade merchandises (candles, purses, and scarves). I even saw a creatively designed L.A. mug (see attached picture). In this era, it is typical that consumers decide on what to buy depending on price. Yet, I consciously like to make buying decisions tracing it back to its origin and how it became the product in my hands. Therefore, I like seeing the variety of fair trade products offered there. It is not a coincidence that the bookstore has come to survive for 120 years and beyond. To conclude, I would like to ask what thought process you go through when purchasing a product (any product). Please feel free to leave your comments below!