Sue Cowing for Mixed-Up Files: It’s a pleasure to feature this month a bookstore that has served and been part of its community since 1894! We’re speaking today with the store’s Promotional Director, Jennifer Ramos.
MUF: Vroman’s is a Pasadena landmark that has seen the city and the bookstore business through many ups and downs over the years—120 years and counting– and continues to thrive. What’s your secret?
Jennifer: There are so many factors that contribute to our longevity. We have a spectacular mix of book and gift items that is ever changing from the moment we opened; our booksellers are friendly, knowledgeable and very helpful; and a strong event series.
MUF: Describe the “feel” of Vroman’s today? What do you hope people, especially young people will experience when they visit?
Jennifer: Vroman’s has a great feel to it. Welcoming, comfortable, a place where you may run into someone you know. With our events and mix of books and gift items, you never know what fun item you might find.
MUF: So glad to see you have a book club especially for middle-graders! What will The Tribe of Endless Readers be reading and discussing next?
Jennifer: their August pick is Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan and for September it will be Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.
MUF: Tomorrow is your Harry Potter release party. What’s planned? Any other events coming up that would be of special interest to middle-graders?Jennifer: Our Harry Potter party will be taking place at Nucleus Gallery in Alhambra.
They will have a Harry Potter art show up, we will be hosting a costume contest, crafts, a photo booth and then we will be handing out the new release at midnight! Tickets were available to those who pre-ordered the book from Vroman’s.
This coming August we have a few events that would be fun for middle-graders. On August 9th we are hosting a Krafttime with Kelly, on the 11th we will be having a storytelling event out under the stars, and that following Saturday we will be hosting a Caped Crusaders event. This event is a continuation of our Summer Reading Club.
MUF: One of the best things about independent bookstore collections is that they’re curated by people who know, love, and read books and can carry what they think best. How do you go about choosing titles for Vroman’s?
Jennifer: We have book buyers who are in charge of picking the books we carry for our store. They work with our publisher representatives and watch for trends when picking what we are carrying. They also listen to our booksellers and look to our customers choices for additional help.
MUF: As middle grade authors, we’d love to know what titles, new or old, fiction or nonfiction, you find yourselves recommending to ages eight to twelve these days? (This question answered by Children’s Department manager, Ashlee Null).
Ashlee: Fiction: Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasly, Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, Copernicus Legacy by Tony Abbott, Wonder by R J Palacio, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, and Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
Non Fiction: Guinea Pig Scientists by Mel Boring and the Guts and Glory series by Ben Thompson (each one a different topic Vikings, World War 2, Civil War, etc)
These are common ones but it usually depends on the kid. Sometimes I pick things I’ve never read but know what its about enough to know they’d probably enjoy it.
MUF: If a family came from out of town to visit Vroman’s, would there be family-friendly places in the neighborhood where they could get a snack or a meal after shopping? And if they could stay awhile, are there some unique sights or activities nearby they shouldn’t miss?
Jennifer: We have a few really great restaurants surrounding our store that would be good to stop into, including Tender Greens and Blaze Pizza. For unique sights or activities I’d suggest Kidspace and the Pasadena Museum of California Art.
MUF: Thanks Jennifer and Ashlee, for telling more about your store. Readers, have you visited Vroman’s? If so, please comment here. If not, be sure to stop by the next time you’re in the area!
Sue Cowing is the author of the middle-grade novel You Will Call Me Drog (Carllrhoda 2011, Usborne UK 2012).
Wow, what a fantastic store! I love the sounds of all the events/activities for middle grade readers and hope to visit Vroman’s some day 🙂