His flooring and window design business survived the 2008 recession along with economic downturns in between, but nothing compares to what John Vandercook and millions of small businesses across the country experienced during the government’s shutdown order for nearly three months due to the coronavirus.
Wearily, Vandercook, the owner of Reimagine Your Home in the 1500 block of Mission Street in South Pasadena, is closing its doors after 27 years, now looking ahead to retirement.
“My decision to retire now rather than in another few years is greatly prompted by the economic downturn in my business due to COVID,” said the longtime storeowner.
In addition to the virus, Vandercook, highly active and a strong community voice, said his building lease expires July 31. In other words, looking at the combination of the two obstacles, it’s time to hang it up after a long and successful career.
“This was a tough decision since I wanted to retire on my terms and not due to a pandemic,” he explained. “After considerable thought of looking at this financial reality, I have complete peace about my choice.”
According to MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one in four (24%) small businesses have shut down in response to COVID-19. Further in a study, among those who haven’t temporarily shut down yet, 40% report it is likely they will do so soon, concluding that a total of 54% of all small businesses report they are closed or could close in the near future.
At the age of 71, Vandercook, who lives with his wife, Peggy, in South Pasadena, said it is time to end one chapter in his life (meaning his career) and starting another, noting: “The quality of our life is so much more important. We will be in business through July 31th at which time I will close the doors.”
A major fixture in town, called “Mr. South Pasadena” by some, Vandercook serves or has served on numerous organizations in the city, including Public Safety Commission, Middle School Site Council, DAG (Design Advisory Group), Downtown Redevelopment Commission, South Pasadena Police Chief Selection Committee, South Pasadena Tiger Run, UUT Committee (User Utility Tax Committee), South Pasadena Relay For Life Committee, Kiwanis Club (current), Oneonta Club (current), South Pasadena Tournament Of Roses (current) and the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors (current).
“I will continue to be involved in the community groups I love and enjoy,” stressed Vandercook. “There is still a great deal of opportunity to stay connected to South Pasadena and the wonderful future of our city. Peggy and I are really looking forward to the next chapter of our life together.”
“I have had the amazing privilege to be in business in South Pasadena for 27 grateful years,” he said. “Having the experience of owning this business in South Pasadena for all these years has been wonderful. My business has been a place where I have met so many wonderful friends and have had the great honor to serve and contribute to my community.”
Key to his longevity has been the enjoyment in meeting families moving into South Pasadena from other parts of the country, helping them settle in and feel comfortable in their new surroundings. “That has been very special to me,” he said.
What will he miss the most? Quick to answer, flashing that familiar bright smile, Vandercook quipped, “The energy of working with customers and being able to help them reimagine their home.”