After appealing to the public for support to help stay afloat a little more than a month ago, Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena has since seen “overwhelming” support as it prepares to quietly mark its 126th anniversary next Monday, a representative said.
It’s been 127 years since the storied bookseller first started selling literature, but the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic brought the business to the brink of closure, Vroman’s announced in September. Company Chair Joel Sheldon issued a call for the public’s help in supporting the store.
They came through, Sheldon said.
“To be honest, it’s been overwhelming. A tremendous response from the community, where sales are well ahead of last year. And they seem to be maintaining themselves,” Sheldon said. “It’s more than we expected. Of course, we hoped it would be truly successful. But this is very special.”
The amount of online orders has left the bookstore scrambling to keep up, he said.
“We’re having to hire additional staff and bring people in at night,” Sheldon said. “And we’re using some additional space next door to the bookstore that was vacant so that we can more efficiently process online orders. We hope to catch up and improve that aspect of our business going forward.”
In-store sales have also exploded, he said. Even with reduced pandemic hours, sales are up compared to pre-pandemic days.
Looking forward, beyond the end of the pandemic, Sheldon said the bookstore was excited about opening its planned wine bar, which was placed on hold due to COVID-19.
While online sales are an increasingly important part of Vroman’s business, “We still want to create an environment that is very special to the community, where people would want to come in and find their books and find their gifts and maybe have a glass of wine,” he said. “But online is going to play a bigger part going forward. No question about it.”