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 BAUBLES, BANGLES AND BAKELITE
What’s better than a half-price sale at Forever 21? More than 22,000 pieces of reasonably priced vintage and costume jewelry all under one roof. That’s what former librarian Eleanor Goodchild thought, too, when she pulled her nose out of the books and opened in 1996 Collectible Glitz Miss La De Da’s, on Canoga Park’s Antique Row. Her little shop is a treasure chest on steroids, with blazing color, sparkle and glitter exploding from every corner. Thankfully, Goodchild organizes her stock according to color and style, so you’ll find stations for Bakelite, Victorian, Edwardian, Deco, American Indian, pearls, emeralds, copper, amber, sterling, Mexican silver, American flags, Christmas trees, religious icons, and every animal in nature (including sea horses). The sales are ongoing, but this isn’t a place for garage-sale garbage. Goodchild enlists professional buyers and works with probate attorneys and private clients to offer only the best stash from the 1860s on. Set aside at least an hour so you can see everything. Cookies are placed throughout the store for sustenance. 21435 Sherman Way, Canoga Park. (818) 347-9343, collectibleglitz.com.
BEST COMIC/ART BOOK SHOP
The first thing you notice at Stuart Ng Books is the wall filled with autographs and sketches from L.A.’s top animators. The South Bay rare book shop is immensely popular within the animation and comic book industries for Ng’s impeccable selection of imported graphic novels, out-of-print art books and independently published artist sketchbooks. Open to the public only on Saturday afternoons and by appointment throughout the week, Stuart Ng Books isn’t cheap, but it is reasonable. French and Belgian comics, which come in hardcover, glossy editions with exquisitely colored oversized panels, run about $30. The best deals are the artist sketchbooks, which start at $5. These often self-published, zine-styled releases offer a unique insight into the minds of animators and comic book artists. Ng stocks titles from Glen Murakami (Teen Titans), Eric Powell (The Goon) and many others. Check the store’s Web site often, as it will list any upcoming promotional items. 22910 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance. (310) 539-4648, stuartngbooks.com.
BEST COMPUTER HELP AGAINST ALL ODDS
You can’t just walk into Compunet in South Central, you have to ring the bell. Behind a barred security door typical of the homes and small businesses in the area, and equipped with a warning system that lets employees know if the door’s ajar, this Compunet franchise store — a small, helpful, competent sales-and-repair business — is thriving despite such security measures. Forty years ago, this stretch of Vermont Avenue was a thriving business thoroughfare, but many things happened both economically and socially over the decades to depress the street. As a result, south of USC, Vermont Avenue is almost a wasteland. Yet the surrounding neighborhoods are jammed with people, including many who work at home, many who have teenagers, and many who need computer hardware and software help, upgrades and equipment. The large chains make only spotty appearances in the Vermont Corridor, so when Compunet opened a franchise here five years ago, it was an indicator of all the personal-computer activity alive and well in South Central. When we asked Compunet’s local owner, Giovanni, why he would open a computer store in such a challenging location, he explained plainly that locals had asked him for it. Good service, fair prices, good guy. 8712 S. Vermont Ave., L.A. (323) 750-8881 or (800) 580-8787.
—Juliette Akinyi Ochieng
BEST GIFT SHOP IN THE LAND
Think you can’t afford to own art? The gift shop at the tiny Craft & Folk Art Museum has an amazing and affordable selection of pieces from around the world. Everything is handcrafted, one of a kind, and free trade. Colorful, recycled tin animals from Zimbabwe priced at $45 mix with horn and wood trinket boxes from India for $6. The stock changes constantly and often represents the museum’s exhibitions. Currently featured are Mithila paintings from India for $350 and Matjames’ original matchbox assemblages for $25. It pains me to share this one. You owe me. 5814 Wilshire Blvd., L.A. (323) 937-4230, cafam.org.
BEST CURLY-HAIR STYLIST
You’re not Julia Roberts. Or Farrah Fawcett (may she rest in peace). So if you’re still looking like a holdover from Mystic Pizza or an angel sans Charlie, get that mall hair into the hands of Jon Buhek at Onyx Salon. Fie on those $200 jobs at so-called “curly-hair specialty salons,” and go with a former Monroe High School student who made the grade on the Sebastian International artistic team. Even though Buhek has styled the likes of Paula Abdul and the Jacksons, he doesn’t get off on gouging you with anything but his scissors — albeit gently — for his $70 cut. His gift to the frizz-challenged comes from 25 years of styling experience and a keen ability to assess texture and shape. “Conventional stylists think it’s about losing thickness and bulk by razoring or overtexturizing. That’ll make a fire hazard,” he says. “It’s about filtering ends, softening, plus teaching clients styling techniques.” So what’s does a specialty salon offer that Buhek doesn’t? He pauses, then answers, “maybe cappuccino?” 15053 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. (818) 501-0299, onyxsalon.com. (Closed Sun. and Mon.)