Ah, Colorado Blvd. in good old Pasadena, where gentrified coffee houses sit among pristine storefronts boasting exorbitant price tags; where expensive mothers push their expensive babies in their expensive strollers. But if you go a bit east of the main drag, there is the unmistakable droning of punk music getting gradually louder, and your eyes are pleasantly assaulted by the pink and green neon that beckons you into the beautiful mess that is MeowzMeowz, Pasadena’s one stop rock shop. And behind the counter sits the goth goddess behind it all, Veronika Sorrow.
Sorrow was born and raised to in Hollywood, CA, in an artistic background. Both her parents painted and played guitar, so art and music came naturally to her. But soon there would be a major turning point for her at an early age that turned her on to an unconventional world of fashion. “Pretty in Pink came out in 1985 and I was blown away, it changed my whole preteen life. Thrift shops have to be the place to go,” she said. After that Sorrow would spend much of her time looking for cool thrift shops and eagerly searching through their racks.
But it was a long time before Sorrow’s dream of opening her own thrift shop would be realized. She spent most of her high school years playing in bands. By the time she was 19, her entrepreneurial skills would emerge when she launched her own after-hours goth clubs. “I’d rent out a space and make it my club for that night. It was a lot of fun. All we did was dance all night.” Her club ran successfully for many years.
Despite Sorrow’s rock n’ roll background, she managed to maintain straight A’s and would eventually get a degree in Early Child Education. From there, she started working in various school districts and nannying.
Unfortunately, Sorrow became ill and was out of work for a while. Her friends recommended she look into selling some of the vintage goods she had been collecting from thrift stores for years, on a then-brand new web site called eBay. The online thrift shop started taking off. “I started on eBay when it was brand new and I was making rent,” Sorrow explains.
When Sorrow got well enough to get back into the work force, she began pursuing her dream, to open MeowMeowz as a brick and mortar storefront. She had a definite idea for the image of her shop, which would pay homage to the many punk rock and thrift shops that she had seen come and go over the years. “All my favorite shops on Melrose disappeared, all my favorite shops in Orange County disappeared. I wanted to pay homage to the shops that were my stomping grounds.”
Sorrow was practicing at a local rehearsal studio and noticed there was a storefront attached to the it that wasn’t being used. Soon enough, she opened her shop there, and because it was attached to rehearsal studios, she asked the owner if she could host shows there, which led to her having both a shop and venue. Unfortunately, that space didn’t last long, but when Sorrow searched for another space, she was determined to find somewhere where she could continue hosting bands. “I definitely wanted to keep the live music going because that was an integral part. People would walk in and say, hey this is so cool, it’s a shop and there’s live music.”
In keeping with Sorrow’s love of children, she notes that she is careful about keeping the venue family friendly, stressing that it is an all-age sober place.
MeowMeowz truly is a one-stop rock shop offering not only the latest in 80’s retro consignment and thrift, but vinyl, patches, artwork, jewelry, toys, and more. She even makes buttons and stickers for bands. (Contact the store on Facebook for the latest in rock swag, or if you want your band to play there.)
With the shop coming up on its 7-year anniversary, Sorrow has some plans for the coming years, which is to move the business into a new space which will focus more on bands. Sorrow explains, “The next step, the evolution of this process, is to move into a spot that’s a multi-purpose building. There’s a chunk of MeowMeowz stuck in there… t-shirts, buttons, little books, little coffee, and a little stage (for performances).” Sorrow is currently working with partners to make this a reality.
As for the rock n’ roll, Sorrow is also still looking to make music and sing in bands. “It’s all about creating music,” she says.
To check out more about Sorrow and her mission to keep rock alive, visit her at the following links: