Historic Shift: Vroman’s and Book Soup for Sale – Pasadena’s Literary Legacy in Transition

Historic Pasadena Bookstore Vroman’s and West Hollywood’s Book Soup Seeking New Owners


In a significant shift for Pasadena’s literary scene, the iconic Vroman’s bookstore, Southern California’s oldest independent bookstore dating back to its founding in 1895, is up for sale. Joel Sheldon, the current owner, nearing his 80th birthday, announced his intention to sell both Vroman’s locations in Pasadena and the well-known Book Soup in West Hollywood.

A Century of Family Ownership Comes to an End


Vroman’s has been under the Sheldon family’s ownership for over a century, with Joel Sheldon leading the establishment for nearly 50 years. In a statement shared on the store’s social media accounts, Sheldon expressed his desire to pass on the legacy, stating, "Vroman’s deserves new ownership with the vision, energy, and commitment necessary to take it successfully into the future."

Acknowledging the uncertainties that come with a change in ownership, Sheldon conveyed his optimism for the future, both for Vroman’s and the local community. He emphasized the need for the new owner to share the core values that have made Vroman’s a community treasure.

Sale Includes Hastings Ranch Location and Book Soup in West Hollywood


Along with the flagship Colorado Boulevard location, Sheldon also plans to sell Vroman’s in Pasadena’s Hastings Ranch shopping center and Book Soup in West Hollywood. The move affects a significant workforce, with 123 employees at the flagship location, 13 in Hastings Ranch, and 18 at Book Soup.

Ensuring a Smooth Transition

Sheldon assured customers and employees that they would take the necessary time to find the right new ownership, someone committed to preserving Vroman’s as a community treasure. The statement emphasized the goal to "avoid any kind of disruption" during this transition period.

Book Soup Unionization and Ongoing Negotiations

Employees at Book Soup Bookstore in West Hollywood are Newly Unionized - WEHO TIMES West Hollywood News, Nightlife and Events

Vroman’s acquired Book Soup almost 15 years ago, and the unionization of Booksellers at Book Soup in the summer of 2022 brought attention to the store. The union sought improvements in wage structures, additional staffing, disability access, fairer distribution of labor, greater transparency, and "democratic decision making in the workplace." As of October, negotiations were ongoing, and it was unclear whether an agreement had been reached.

Weathering Financial Struggles

The union drive followed financial challenges at both Vroman’s and Book Soup, exacerbated by a recession and COVID-era lockdowns. Vroman’s resilience during the pandemic aimed to mitigate losses, though the organizing efforts were not cited as a factor in Sheldon’s decision to sell.

In the evolving landscape of independent bookstores, Pasadena’s Vroman’s and Book Soup’s potential change in ownership marks a significant chapter. The community watches with anticipation, hoping for a seamless transition that will preserve the rich literary history these establishments hold.

Keywords: Pasadena’s Vroman’s bookstore up for sale, Book Soup, Joel Sheldon, independent bookstore, Vroman’s Pasadena, Book Soup West Hollywood, unionization, financial struggles, community treasure.

**Unraveling the Decision: The Theme Behind Vroman’s and Book Soup’s

Are Book Soup & Vroman’s in Pasadena for Sale?

Cultural landmarks Book Soup and Vroman’s bookstore in Pasadena are currently on the market. Vroman’s, the oldest bookstore in Southern California established in 1895 and still under the same family ownership, is part of this sale. Owner Joel Sheldon made the announcement via social media, stating that both Vroman’s locations in Pasadena and the one in Hastings Ranch are up for sale. This decision marks the end of a century-long era for Vroman’s. For potential buyers and the community, the sale raises questions about the future of these beloved bookstores and their cultural impact.

Keywords: Book Soup and Vroman’s for sale, Vroman’s Pasadena, cultural landmarks, Joel Sheldon, Hastings Ranch, Southern California bookstore

What is the Oldest Bookstore in Southern California?

Vroman’s claims the title of the oldest bookstore in Southern California, with its founding dating back to 1895, and it maintains its status as a family-owned establishment. Joel Sheldon, the current owner, recently disclosed via social media that both Vroman’s locations in Pasadena, including one in Hastings Ranch, are up for sale. This announcement also encompasses Book Soup in West Hollywood. At the age of 80, Sheldon declared his retirement after a remarkable 50-year tenure in the book selling industry. The decision sparks curiosity about the future of this historical literary haven.

Keywords: Oldest bookstore Southern California, Vroman’s history, Joel Sheldon retirement, Vroman’s Pasadena, Book Soup West Hollywood

How Many Employees are at Book Soup in Pasadena?

According to Sheldon’s statement to the Pasadena Star-News, the Pasadena location of Book Soup currently has 123 employees. Additionally, there are 13 employees at the Hastings Ranch branch, and the West Hollywood-based Book Soup, known for being a unionized shop, employs 18 individuals. It’s noteworthy that the latter has been engaged in negotiations with owner Joel Sheldon. These figures offer insights into the scale of the workforce across the different locations and the ongoing discussions at Book Soup.

Keywords: Book Soup Pasadena employees, Joel Sheldon, unionized shop, workforce scale, negotiations

Who Reads Books at Book Soup?

Book Soup boasts a distinguished history of hosting readings by notable figures, drawing a diverse audience that includes top Hollywood stars, politicians, and renowned authors. The list of luminaries who have graced these events includes Muhammad Ali, Annie Leibovitz, Bill Clinton, Norman Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson, and many others. The bookstore has also become a popular choice for film and TV locations, with numerous production houses maintaining accounts. This eclectic mix of literary events and its connection to the entertainment industry underscore Book Soup’s status as a cultural hub with broad appeal.

Keywords: Book Soup readings, Hollywood stars, literary events, film and TV locations, cultural hub

Why is Vroman’s Bookstore Up for Sale?

Vroman’s Bookstore, a long-standing haven for Southern California’s literary community, is undergoing a change in ownership. Joel Sheldon, the current owner, revealed in an Instagram post that he is in the process of retiring, coinciding with his upcoming 80th birthday. As part of this transition, Sheldon is actively seeking new ownership beyond his family. The decision to sell marks the end of an era and prompts questions about the future direction of this historic bookstore.

Keywords: Vroman’s Bookstore sale, Joel Sheldon retirement, change in ownership, Southern California literary community

What Led to Joel Sheldon’s Decision to Sell Vroman’s and Book Soup?

In 2009, Vroman’s Bookstore in downtown Pasadena expanded its footprint by acquiring Book Soup in West Hollywood following the owner’s passing. Fast forward to the present, and owner Joel Sheldon has made the significant decision to put all three stores, employing a combined workforce of over 150 individuals, up for sale. Sheldon’s motivation lies in the belief that Vroman’s requires new ownership with the requisite vision, energy, and commitment to steer it successfully into the future, marking a crucial turning point for these well-established bookstores.

Keywords: Joel Sheldon decision to sell, Vroman’s Bookstore, Book Soup acquisition, future ownership

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button