By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
BEST OFF-THE-WALL INTERIOR DESIGNS
Need a Liberace-style wall sconce? HomeGoods probably has it. This chain’s stores exude the weird, unexpected randomness of a great thrift shop, but everything inside is new. The deeply discounted (20 to 60 percent off retail) merchandise changes with the tides — one weekend might find you swimming in Jonathan Adler knockoff bowls and leather desk sets, and the next in Tibetan elephant sculpture bookends. Peruse such decorative accessories and household basics as benches, lamps, ottomans, stools, rugs, kitchen supplies, tableware and bedding. You could furnish an entire home with the goods here, though it’s anyone’s guess what that home would look like afterward. Tuscan modern? Parisian neo-Egyptian? Items are arranged thematically. At the Walnut branch, there’s a garden faux topiary, birdhouse and statuette section; a nautical “things scavenged from the bottom of the sea and/or that fell off a boat” section; a flying pig section (you can never have too many!). And a section devoted to marble world globes whose landmasses bear no relation to those of the actual Earth. The HomeGoods people don’t bother putting together a coherent décor scheme — that’s your job. They just bring it to you cheap and eclectic. 8621 S. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A. (310) 670-7098. Also at Torrance Crossroads, 24663 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance. (310) 257-8196. And at Glendale Marketplace, 142 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale. (818) 507-9001. Locations citywide; homegoods.com.
BEST REAPPROPRIATION OF A FAST-FOOD RESTAURANT
For some, genius strikes in the form of, say, inventing the telephone. For others, it can come in the ability to play freeform jazz on a saxophone. Then there’s the type of person who stares at a long-abandoned Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet that had been slumping sadly in Palms for close to a year, and says, “This shall be a marijuana dispensary — and I shall call it KFC.” But rather than tearing the whole place down and starting from scratch, this creative entrepreneur thought to keep the structure almost entirely intact, removing only the original KFC sign at the top of the building, then painting the exact same acronym in large green letters across the front windows. They do not, sadly, sell THC-buttered biscuits, nor, as far as I can tell, do they offer family meals or “Pineapple Express” by the bucket. But they do, like the other myriad dispensaries found on just about every block in Los Angeles these days, sell marijuana. But what exactly does this alternative KFC stand for? They call it “Kind for Cures,” which is really a shame, since in all honesty, shouldn’t it stand for “Kentucky Fried Chronic”? Yeah, I thought so, too. 3516 Hughes Ave., Palms. (310) 836-5463.
BEST WORLD OF FLOWERS
The largest wholesale flower district in the country, the L.A. Flower District downtown is composed of dozens of wholesalers selling imported flowers, as well as California-grown flowers and live plants, and for a $2 admission ($1 on Saturday) the public is welcome. For $10.99, you can get three times the flowers you’d buy at Trader Joe’s — which is already pretty cheap — and prices drop near closing time. It’s worth paying the tiny entrance fee and getting up early, and remember it all closes down at noon, daily. Pay cash, and park in the $5 flat-rate lots. A favorite with Hollywood party planners, the Holland Flower Market, one of the many shops inside the huge complex, actually flies in roses four times a week. Bridezillas in the know, or their wedding consultants, clamor for blossoms from Milagra Floral Imports, where Dutch tulips and fragrant peonies are their most popular summer flowers. Word to the wise, let the staff handle all flowers. Grabbing bunches out of the buckets of water is gauche. The Orchid Affair is especially welcoming to neophytes, and if you long for a white phalaenopsis, but are afraid your black thumb will kill it, Jaimie can answer all your questions, even selling you a special pot with the correct holes for drainage. Family owned and operated since 1925, the Mellano shop grows its own flowers near Carlsbad and San Luis Rey, and you can even take a road trip to see their giant ranunculus fields in bloom. Their current selections of chrysanthemums, sunflowers, yellow and orange cocarde and golden wheat make you think fall is in the air, even if it’s hot and smoky outside. The best buys are in tropicals and more perishable varieties not sold by the grocery and other big-box stores. Tayama Greenhouses stock wildly exotic blooms: heliconia, red ginger, orange pincushion protea, anthuria — and they’ll pack them for shipping. They also sell lovely leis. If you’re buying a large amount, feel free to haggle. At Christmas, the vendors go wild with multicolored poinsettias, garlands, wreathes and swags. To get cheaper, you’d have to find a forest and chop pine boughs yourself. The surrounding streets are packed with additional floral supply places and florists. DIY addicts can stock up on ribbon, pebbles, foam, wire, candles and holders, baskets and vases at Moskatels (actually part of the Michaels craft store chain, but still a destination for crafters. 754 Wall St. (between Seventh and Eighth sts.), dwntwn. (213) 622-1966, laflowerdistrict.com. Opens early, closes by noon.