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Vroman's Bookstore In Pasadena Turns 120 Years Old This Week

Photo via Vroman's Facebook page
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A lot has changed about books since 1894, but one thing hasn't: Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena is celebrating its 120th birthday this weekend.

Founded November 14, 1894 by Adam Clark Vroman, who left the shop to his employees when he died in 1924, Vroman's was the largest bookseller west of the Mississippi for a time. Now it's a mini-chain that includes two Pasadena locations, two boutiques at LAX and the beloved Book Soup in West Hollywood, which Vroman's took over after Book Soup owner Glenn Goldman died in 2009.

Vroman's remains a leading independent store, named the nation's best by Publisher's Weekly in 2008.

So what's the key to longterm success in a quickly changing book business that has recently killed behemoth Borders and local shops like Dutton's? One part is community engagement - Vroman's hosts 400 events a year - and another is not relying solely on books, Vroman's CEO Allison Hill told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

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"We evolved from selling Kodak equipment and supplies in the early 1900s to selling office furniture in the 50s," Hill told the paper. "Today about 28 percent of our total sales come from non-book items."

Today's festivities at the store included the dedication of a new "Authors Walk of Fame," where Lisa See was the first scribe to put her hands in wet cement. The store is also spotlighting customers and employees on its Tumblr.