By Emily G. Peters
You’ve likely driven by MEOWMEOWZ! Retro Rock Shop a hundred times without knowing it. For a (relatively) inconspicuous shop dotting Pasadena’s main thoroughfare, this small thrift shop showcases a veritable riot of new, retro and vintage clothing, accessories and music for the 1980s rock-goth-punk in your life. Unsurprisingly, John Hughes is partially responsible for MEOWMEOWZ!’ existence.
“It all started in the summer of 1985 when I saw ‘Pretty in Pink’—I was totally enthralled with the aesthetic, the music, the vibe. I immediately started bugging my mom to take me to all our great mom n’ pop thrift shops and amassed quite a lovely collection of vintage dresses and jewelry,” said Veronika T. Sorrow, owner of MEOWMEOWZ! Even the name of the shop conflates Hughes with Sorrow’s personality.
“The shop started off on eBay back in 2001 during the big dot com craze. I chose the username MEOWMEOWZ! because I’m a cat lover, tended to say the word ‘meow’ a lot in conversation, and because it was an ‘80s-inspired throwback to the CATS club from ‘Pretty in Pink,’ she explained. “In October of 2009 I was able to realize a dream and opened my first brick-and-mortar. I’ve have been rockin’ strong ever since.”
As influential as Hughes has been, MEOWMEOWZ! pulls largely from goth culture and rocker fashion, too. Rooted in Sorrow’s background in music (she’s been a promoter, DJ and musician) clothing here varies from the daring to demure; accessories are spiked, sparkly or both. The shoes, too, are a sight to behold: sky-high platforms, neon-trimmed heels, futuristic boots—they’re all here.
“The 1980s were the last great decade of fashion. Fashion was 100% a part of the music—a full immersion in all creative senses,” said Sorrow, who runs the shop alongside her best friend Sal and boyfriend Adriel. “We specialize in retro and vintage fashion band T-shirts, punk footwear, jewelry, music, art and more. We create custom badges/pin backs which are fun for bands and artists, and even have live music every weekend—a safe, sober space for all ages to come check out the hottest new local bands.”
Though the spot is tiny, MEOWMEOWZ!’ reputation is not. The shop has won “Best Vintage Store” the last four years running, with no signs of falling out of fashion.
“Black attire and punk-inspired 1980s looks have remained at the forefront of most runways. I’m super not into trends, but the retro clothing that comes through MEOWMEOWZ! is cool enough to make it onto our racks,” said Sorrow. “I hand-pick every single item you see in my store.”
Like its fellow mom n’ pop shops, MEOWMEOWZ! relies heavily on community support to stay alive. With plans to expand into a full music venue, upcoming Doo Dah Parade after-party on November 18 and more slated events, Sorrow is prepped and ready to share her passions with her customers.
“Sal and I treat every soul that comes through our door with love, respect and most of all gratefulness for visiting,” said Sorrow. “I recommend everyone start a business and follow their passion. Only then will you achieve true happiness in life—and isn’t that the goal?”
MEOWMEOWZ! Retro 80’s Thrift Shop is located at 2423 E. Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena. The shop is open from 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm seven days a week. Live music happens on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30 pm with a $4 cover. For more information, contact MEOWMEOWZ! at www.meowmeowz.bigcartel.com | (626) 798-6969 and follow along on Facebook @MeowMeowzPasadena.