Best of L.A.

Best Of 2012

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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Community Print Shop
Grow Your Own Media

Whether you're an amateur interested in getting in touch with your creative side outside your grueling 9-to-5, or you're on your way to becoming L.A.'s next sought-after street artist, Atwater Village's Grow Your Own Media has you covered. Founded by onetime social worker and experienced screen printer Tomas Staub, the 5-year-old company has grown in both square footage and devoted customers, attracting such notable Angeleno artists as Morley, Cobra Snake and Homo Riot with three ready-to-rent stations ($10/hour), equipment and ink. The place also nurtures those wanting to learn a trade in an economic downturn, with screen printing, graphic design and color-separation classes. The environment fosters creativity without judgment. And while some customers have been known to spend up to eight hours at the print shop, the place also takes custom orders of posters, T-shirts, stickers and wedding invitations and, if you're less artistically inclined, can even work with you on your design from inception to output. 3020 Glendale Blvd., Ste. 200, Atwater Village. (323) 747-8700, gyomedia.com.

—Liana Aghajanian

3020 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles, 90039
MAP
323-747-8700
Best Quick-Stop Museum Gift Shop
Gracie at Santa Monica Museum of Art

Museum shops are pretty good places for last-minute gifts — you will find items quirky enough that the recipients probably will not have seen them and definitely will not have purchased for themselves. The Santa Monica Museum of Art has a tiny, super-focused version, called Gracie, its goods stacked neatly in the hallway between the entrance and the galleries. Some items you may have seen in other luxury-novelty stores, like a mug that looks like three espresso cups smushed together. Others are surprises, like the collection of plates stacked in the shape of a palace. No one needs these things. But you need to buy them for someone, and this museum shop makes it easy and pleasant to do so. Oh, and feel free to walk 10 steps more to see the actual museum, which has a $5 suggested donation ($3 for seniors, students and artists). Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., G1, Santa Monica. (310) 586-6488, smmoa.org.

—Zachary Pincus-Roth

2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, 90404
MAP
310-586-6488
Best Gift Shop
The Library Store at Central Library

Every group of friends has that one member who reliably delivers cool gifts with cards to match. In our case, said friend was willing to share her source: the Library Store at Central Library. Every nook and cranny of this smallish space is filled with books (of course!), many about L.A. or on themes such as cooking, gardening and literature; educational but fun toys that kids will adore; jewelry and gadget covers (iPad, Kindle, etc.) for book lovers; creative greeting cards and postcards; T-shirts and other garments; and unusual items such as colorful paper sculptures made by librarian Dora Ho from recycled catalogs. Now you, too, have access to one-stop cool gift shopping, down to the funky wrapping paper and artistic gift tags. Even better, proceeds support the Los Angeles Public Library. 630 W. Fifth St., dwntwn. (213) 228-7550, lfla.org/store.

—Lisa Horowitz

630 W. Fifth St., Los Angeles, 90071
MAP
213-228-7000
Best Store for Street Artists
33third

If Los Angeles is the street-art capital of the world, then MidCity's 33third is the scene's Louvre. More gift shop than museum, this art-supply mecca has nonetheless hosted shows by such graf luminaries as Chaka and Revok (who was famously arrested there for vandalism). Although it claims to be the largest street-art supply store in the country, with 2,900 square feet of everything from Ironlak paint and nozzles to "drippers," it's also a showcase, with practice walls in the back and a dedicated gallery space under construction. And 33third is adding what's being billed as the planet's first street-art academy, Los Angeles Academy of Street Art, to debut mid-October. It's places like this that make L.A. the envy of cool kids around the world. 5111 W. Pico Blvd., Mid-City. (310) 694-3460, 33third.com.

—Dennis Romero

5111 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 90019
MAP
310-694-3460
Best Baby Store
Giggle

"Giggle isn't just a baby store," the company literature says, "it's a new parent store." New parent! What did they do with the old parent!? And yet there is a singular transformation that takes place when a prospective buyer steps inside Giggle — it's readily apparent that it's one of the most chic, stylish stores for equipping a nursery in Los Angeles. From nursery and bedding supplies, to baby bouncers that undulate at a precise rate, to toys, strollers, carriers and other gifts, Giggle presents an oasis for the maternally harried and a break for the paternally worried, with its friendly, welcoming atmosphere, blessed lack of hard sell and emphasis on eco-friendly living from the cradle onward. The store's line of plush stuffed animals is particularly soft and comforting; they resurrect a simpler time in which all those animals were alive and so were you. 1120 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (424) 268-4539, giggle.com.

—David Cotner

1120 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, 90403
MAP
424-268-4539
Best Lingerie Store
Frederick's of Hollywood

There are many choices for your smut-wear needs, but while you're digging through that 3-for-$10 thong bin, consider the ritual and the anticipation. Long before Victoria had any secrets, the place that started it all opened its doors on Hollywood Boulevard — in 1947! While that flagship moved a few blocks away in 2005, it's still the two-story king of lingerie. And, early this year, the 117-store company announced that it was for sale. Although Frederick's of Hollywood says it's on firm financial ground with a recent $24 million line of credit, you never know. Victoria could swallow it up. And while you have that picture in your head, appreciate what you have, L.A. — the world's mecca of unmentionables. 6751 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd. (323) 957-5953, fredericks.com.

—Dennis Romero

6751 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 90028
MAP
323-957-5953
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Best Community Print Shop: Grow Your Own Media

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