A Beloved 130-Year-Old Small Business in California Is Seeking a New Owner — and It Won't Sell to the Highest Bidder: 'Everybody's Talking About It'


For more than a century, Vroman’s Bookstore has stood as a cornerstone of the Pasadena, California community, frequented by book lovers of all ages.

Now, as it nears its 130th anniversary, Vroman’s is at a crossroads as 79-year-old Joel Sheldon III, the current steward and majority shareholder, prepares to hand over the reins to a new generation, The New York Times reported.

1707406742 vromans bookstore 8839303961Image Credit: Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, California

Founded in 1894 by Adam Clark Vroman and left to his godson Alan Sheldon after Vroman’s death in 1916, today the bookstore offers a vast collection in addition to a coffee shop, wine bar, and large reading space. Over the years, it’s hosted renowned authors such as Upton Sinclair, Ray Bradbury, and Joan Didion, per the outlet.

Related: 11 Business Books Entrepreneurs Must Reread in 2021

Last month, Sheldon expressed his commitment to finding successors who embody the passion and dedication that has kept Vroman’s a community treasure — not just the highest bidders, necessarily — in a post shared on Instagram.

Sheldon has steered the company through the tech revolution and changing retail landscapes for more than 45 years, and in 2009, Vroman’s bought the large independent bookstore Book Soup in West Hollywood after its owner died and the store was at risk of closing.

Related: 5 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read Before Starting a Business

The number of U.S. bookstores decreased by more than 50% between 1998 and 2019, from 12,151 to 6,045, according to data from the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns.

Heidi Barnett, a 43-year-old mother of two who frequents Vroman’s with her children, is one of many community members worried about what might happen if the bookstore doesn’t find a buyer and has to close.

“Everybody’s talking about it,” she told the NYT.





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