Best Of Shopping & Services
Best Car Wash
Shine & Brite
It's hard to get a hand wash for your ride for less than $10 on the Westside these days. But on Wednesdays, or with a receipt coupon from the nearest Ralphs (the one in Culver Center), you can do just that at this circa 1957 spot. The Shine & Brite...
Best Secondhand Clothing Shop
Buttons and Bows
Are you trying to buy some Marc Jacobs or Chanel on the cheap? Are you sick of "consignment" that looks like pieces from Betty Draper's closet rather than pre-worn current fashion? If either or both of these things apply to you, look no further than Buttons and Bows. This resale...
The Dina Collection/Beverly Hills Pawn
It's like the answer to your prayers: a pawnshop on ritzy Beverly Drive. Owner Yossi Dina peddles the goodies that rich folk are giving up to finance that Learjet — or maybe because they fell on hard times. Their loss, your gain. When you stroll past the Dina Collection/Beverly Hills...
Bismillah Imports and Oil Shop
For an alternative to overpriced, alcohol-based perfumes, there's Bismillah Imports and Oil Shop. Owner S.M. Farasat Ullah's ample supply of scented and exotic oils is great for your skin. The oil absorbs right in, leaving you smooth, while lingering like a lovely melody — no reapplication necessary. Even better, there's...
Best Secondhand Children's Clothing Store
Grow Kid Grow
Seen recently on sale here: a green baby T-shirt with the words, "My Mom Is Cooler Than Your Mom" for $1.99. Another onesie makes the point even more directly: "My Mommy Rocks." Yes, this is Silver Lake, where the dominant anxiety is: "This kid doesn't make me look lame, does...
Best 3-D Nail Artist
Four years ago, Natalie Nichole couldn't find an L.A.-area salon to give her the 3-D Japanese nail art she wanted, so she decided to start doing it herself. Today she's one of the most sought-after nail artists in Hollywood, yet she's still accessible to the public — a rarity in...
Best Place to Get Vintage Pendletons
For 18 years, Wayne & Donna Gunther's Abbot Kinney shop has been a go-to for old-school California style, serving up classic surfing artifacts, teak and tiki housewares and driftwood-modern furniture gleaned from the days of woodie station wagons and reverbed-out, wave-riding anthems. Now located in Mar Vista, Surfing Cowboys' new...
Best Record Store
You can run into just about any shop and get a copy of Led Zeppelin IV, Get Your Wings or Alive!. But where can you get the latest from space rockers White Hills, local d-beat maniacs Nomads or neofolk legends Death in June? Silver Lake's Vacation Vinyl meets all your...
Best Affordable Pet Service
Highland Park Animal Hospital
Finding the right vet for your fur family is terrifying. The vet might be a hack, the office might rip you off — maybe both. But have no fear. The much-beloved Highland Park Animal Hospital offers reliable vets and a friendly, attentive staff at a reasonable price. The facility is...
Best Place to Park at LAX
Jackson Parking has barely any of the things that seem important for long-term parking near LAX. For starters, it's not even a parking lot — it's a limo service that offers long-term parking as a side business. It has no fancy office — you might find yourself waiting for your...
Best Video Store
In this age of instant digital streaming, there are plenty of places to find movies but surprisingly few places to discover them. Cinefile Video is one of the precious latter. With its hyper-organization of subgenres — bikers, monkeys and pregnant men all have their own sections here — Cinefile functions...
Best Place to Fix Your Chola Eyebrows
Senna Makeup & Brow Studio
If you've gotten a little too tweezer-happy, a quick visit to Senna Makeup & Brow Studio in Beverly Hills or Tarzana will fix the most crooked of brows. From uneven arches to the dreaded tadpole, studio owner Eugenia Weston, an Emmy-nominated makeup artist and brow expert, has seen it all...
Best Tattoo Shop
Some tattoo shops may be bigger. Some may be fancier. Some may get more attention from celebrity clientele. But when you're looking for a clean, relaxed spot to permanently ink your body, done by artists who will not only listen to what you want but also advise you about size,...
Best Place to Buy a Car Stereo
Find It All Car Stereo
What could be more American than driving along the highway — while blasting your favorite rock & roll? If you want to turn your automobile into a rockin' party on wheels, hit Find It All Car Stereo. Situated behind a large car wash, this tidy Koreatown shop is jammed with...
Best Streetwear Shop
Diamond Supply Co.
Fairfax Avenue is crammed with streetwear shops that all sell pretty much the same things: snap-back baseball caps, T-shirts, sweatshirts, skateboard decks, maybe some colorful socks, all with a soundtrack of hip-hop. Diamond Supply Co. has those things, too, but with one big difference: The folks working here will actually...
Best Pet Boutique
If you're seeking something more interesting than a chain store for your pet supplies, Los Angeles has plenty of pet boutiques to choose from. They're all a little different, but most feature the same cramped space with hardened bakery "treats," a small selection of high-end foods and a rack of...
Best Dog Boarding
Paradise Pet Ranch Resort
The first fully licensed, cage-free dog boarding facility in the nation, Paradise Pet Ranch Resort pioneered the idea of offering a "home environment" for dogs, complete with sheepskin pads for dozing and constant human companionship in a sprawling, stylish property. But the 17-year-old business, owned by husband-and-wife team Kristyn Goddard...
Best Denim Boutique
The Denim Refinery
The Denim Refinery has one motto: No denim left behind. This downtown, appointment-only boutique will turn your least favorite denim into a wardrobe staple with one of five treatments. If it's soft jeans you crave, they'll break them in for you. Looking for something trendy and laid-back to cover your...
Best Place to Buy Cigars
2nd Street Cigar Lounge & Gallery
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Other times, it's your entrée to an awesome evening. The 2nd Street Cigar Lounge & Gallery provides both an atmosphere and an experience, with locally made artworks, large-screen plasma TVs and comfortable chairs and couches encouraging prolonged visits. The humidor is fairly well-stocked,...
Best New Bookstore
Pop-Hop Books & Print
Pop-Hop Books & Print makes a great respite from a day of browsing the many, many used-clothing boutiques that line Highland Park's York Boulevard. Started in 2012 by Robey Clark and Sarah Balcomb using $10,000-plus in Kickstarter funding, the tiny space packs in everything an Eastside bookstore needs: walls of...
Best Place for a Strong Touch
L.A. Sports Massage
The word "massage" can mean a variety of things. There's Swedish massage, Thai massage, deep-tissue Rolfing, and the kind of massage you get at fringe-y parlors that elicit snickering chatter about "happy endings." L.A. Sports Massage offers a targeted and quality-assured service: a rigorous, but not extremely painful, reparative and
Best Comic Store
Melrose Music and Comics
The Simpsons has ingrained a certain expectation of comic book purveyors into the collective psyche of a generation: acerbic, corpulent, inaccessible. Fortunately for Los Angeles, the personable staff of Melrose Music and Comics provides less of an Android's Dungeon and more of a clubhouse for SoCal's nerd community. In addition...
Best Place to Pretend You're Shopping in Portland
Backyard parties are the salons of our century, so satisfy the savage leisure king or queen with mess kits, campfire accoutrements and stylish Herschel backpacks at Individual Medley, an Atwater Village outfitter. But it's not all Portland chic here. Owners Justin and Monica Boyes curate an eclectic, organic, design-minded collection...
Best Adult Store
If your idea of an adult shop is a shame-inducing hole-in-the-wall with sticky magazines, XXX video booths filled with men on the sex-offender list, and leather accessories worthy of a farm, Pure Delish probably isn't the place for you. It has no videos and no magazines, but, taking a page...
Best Place to Shop Like a Set Decorator
Nick Metropolis Collectible Furniture
If you've ever had the urge to steal a street sign but couldn't muster the nerve (or the power tools) to do it, Nick Metropolis Collectible Furniture at the corner of La Brea and West First Street is the store for you. This sanctuary for salvaged signage offers everything from...
Best Store for Boozehounds
When you're tired of dropping $15 on a Sazerac and ready to start drinking at home, a visit to Bar Keeper is a must. Joe Keeper's shrine to craft cocktails is packed with everything you need to pimp out your home bar, from vintage glassware and fancy shakers to muddlers...
Best Cheap Nail Salon
To call Contempo Nails a nail salon is like calling the Queen Mary a boat. When you enter this bustling ode to O.P.I., you will be ushered immediately to an armchair by Diane Chiang, the diminutive proprietress/taskmaster/saint who has run this place with military precision for the last 30 years. Within...
Best Place to Buy Vintage Designer Clothes
Lemon Frog Shop
This boutique is the most consistently reliable brick-and-mortar source on the Eastside for high-quality vintage designer dresses, shoes, bags and accessories. The beautiful women's apparel is grouped by modern sizes, as well as by price, making the process of trying on the duds much less frustrating than your average vintage...
Best Time-Travel Mall
Puente Hills Mall
What could possibly be so special about some shopping mall in the City of Industry? Maybe the fact that the parking lot at Puente Hills Mall is where Michael J. Fox drove a DeLorean back in time. Yes indeed, Back to the Future's iconic time-travel scenes were shot in the...
Best Japanese Bookstore
Since opening in Tokyo 85 years ago, Kinokuniya has brought its Japanese aesthetic to bookstores worldwide, including branches in L.A., San Francisco and Portland. The 6,300-square-foot store in downtown's Little Tokyo district attracts Japanese Americans and American Nipponophiles alike with thousands of manga titles in English and Japanese, dozens of...
Best Organic Pet Food
Got Pet Food
Is Fluffy on a paleo diet? Get your canine or feline to Got Pet Food, the Dean & DeLuca of pet food stores. Here, it is perfectly acceptable to insist that your cat will eat only protein-dense, gluten-free, grain-free, organic, raw, frozen rabbit muscle meat. Or that your dog will...
Best Gift Shop
Located in the heart of Culver City, Lundeen's is the sort of shop you wander through muttering under your breath: "Cool!" "Neat!" "Why didn't I think of that?" It's a treasure trove of trendy, fun gifts for everyone on your list. Pretty little necklaces and earrings? Check. Books on such...
Best Place to Buy New Furniture
Apartment dwellers on a budget — which is, let's admit it, all of us — often feel as if they have two choices for furnishing their homes: Ikea or Craigslist. Neither is all that appealing. But Angelenos have a third option that keeps both McApartments and weird stains at bay:...
Best Place to Buy Funky Socks
Forget that awful, sweaty trend of wearing no socks with your fashionable shoes. Paul Smith is a British fashion designer of exquisite men's wear, and he tops everything off with socks that are daring and eye-catching. In fact, cult film director John Waters specifically recommended Smith's socks to us when...
Best Oddity Shop
Vlad the Retailer
Sunset Boulevard and Mohawk Avenue in Echo Park may be the hippest corner in all of Los Angeles. To the east, it gets genuinely gritty. Any farther west, and you're into bourgeois Silver Lake. For now, Mohawk is the point of equilibrium, and at that point sits Vlad the Retailer...
The Koreatown bathhouse emporium Wi Spa is tricked out with saunas, hot tubs, steam rooms, clay rooms, salt rooms, ice rooms, 200-plus-degree rooms and myriad other methods of detoxifying and refreshing body and mind. The entrance fee is $30 (with a variety of deals and discounts throughout the week), and
Best Shoe Store
Milk & Honey
Sisters Ilissa and Dori Howard's popular DIY website, Milk & Honey, allows you to custom-build fabulous footwear to your own specifications — a life-saver if you're a bride-to-be, a busy online shopper looking for the perfect fit, or just someone who wants to create your own (probably cheaper) version of...
Best Vintage Eyeglasses Store
For spectacles ranging from Buddy Hollys and Henry Kissingers to Sally Jesse Raphaels and Lisa Loebs, Old Focals offers a huge collection of yesteryear's rare and vintage eyewear. The Pasadena hut is packed with frames for every face, displaying classy glasses of yore, as well as a new, vintage-inspired line...
Best Place for a Foodie Shopping Spree
Imagine a Sam's Club for foodists (but without the membership fee) and you have sense of the atmosphere at the warehouse sale at Epicure Imports. Pushing oversized shopping carts, gourmet bargain hunters swarm the aisles of the specialty food distributor's North Hollywood warehouse, loading up on giant bags of Chinese...
Best Place to Shop for Your Friend's Baby Shower
Let your friend fill up her registry at Buy Baby Buy. Let her mother-in-law brave the crowds and awful lighting at Kids R Us to buy her a layette of onesies and stacks of diapers. Just because you're now spending your Saturdays at baby showers instead of mimosa-fueled brunches does...
Best Place to Buy and Arrange Plants
Which L.A. Rolling Greens you go to depends on what you're looking for. If you're after a vast selection of pots and plants, go to the original, tucked away up a steep hill near the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. Its three levels are home to an astonishing range and variety...
Best Place to Shop for Your Niece or Nephew
Tara Riceberg, the owner of Tweak, believes in engaging. That's why, in her shop, much of the merchandise for kids is at kid level, and they're encouraged to explore and interact. There is a table where little ones can play and draw, plus an air hockey table. Riceberg brings her...
Best Antique Reproductions
Mitchell Litt Home
Before the surrounding residential area and hills were invaded by studio people and the attendant blocks of pricey cafés and insane housing prices, Mitchell Litt Home in Sherman Oaks was a big reason people with money came to Ventura Boulevard. Think oversized armoires from the South of France and a...
Best Body Scrub
Aroma Spa & Sports
Quickly, you're naked and being rigorously but pleasantly exfoliated by a spa attendant. The body scrub doubles as a full-body massage and is not for the shy, but your skin will never feel smoother, and the results seem to last for at least a week. The women's area of Aroma...
Best Cheap Boutique
The clothes lover generally has two options: Pay through the nose, and browse a carefully curated selection of blouses and designer denim in a stress-free environment; or go cheap, and elbow your way past a million other bargain lovers in a fluorescent barn with (ugh) communal dressing rooms and rack...
Best Place to Preserve Your Records
With the hipster-driven surge in vinyl record sales comes the need to keep those records in as good a condition as possible. Enter Wes Oishi's SoundSource. Since 1980, it's been the go-to destination in L.A. to find slick, exotic, resealable outer sleeves (and, lately, custom bicycles) imported straight from Japan. The sleeves provide...
Best Place to Buy Beauty Products
Wilshire Beauty Supply
Aisle after aisle of potions and lotions fill Wilshire Beauty Supply. Whether you're looking for shampoo for your oily hair, conditioner for your dry hair, gentle soap for your kids or even something to wash your dog, you'll find it. All the familiar names are here — Paul Mitchell, Redken,...
Best Color Correction
Get a Damn Haircut
When at-home hair color goes wrong, it's time to schedule an emergency session with a professional. Whether it was a Pinterest-inspired ombre that claimed to be easy to do yourself (ha!) or a bleach job that turned your hair a sickly shade of orange, Andi Scarbrough at Get a Damn...
Clean, sunlit and airy, stocked with clothing made of materials so soft you can hardly wait to slip them on, Flannel is a shopaholic's dream come true. The Australian-based petite boutique sells clothing primarily from its own line, made only of five signature materials: cool, slippery silk; light, breathable rayon;...
Best Mobile Salon
Hair Room Service
Ask many a girl what her biggest fantasy is, and she'll tell it to you straight: having her own personal beauty team at her beck and call. Michael Dueñas' Hair Room Service, or HRS, aims to do just that: Its team of celebrity hairdressers, makeup artists, nail techs and even...
Best Dollhouse Shop
My Doll's House
Is your inner 75-year-old grandmother feeling neglected? Show her some love at My Doll's House and pick up an unassembled Victorian, or Tudor, or Colonial or Vermont farmhouse. Put it together yourself, if you're feeling crafty and brave. Or have a nice associate from the shop assemble it for you...
Florist-to-the-stars Mark Held has decorated the most elegant premieres and galas in Los Angeles, so naturally his bouquets are not the least bit cheap. But if you want to make a big-time statement of love, congratulations, sympathy or guilt, order from Mark's Garden. Held has decorated the Oscars' Governors Ball...
Best Women's Clothing Swap Shop
Give + Take
Tired of last summer's lacy frock? You could blow a paycheck on a new one at the mall. Or you could trade the old one for a new one — or flower-print jeans, or strappy teal sandals, or a lacy black dress — at Give + Take. Located on a...
Best Jewelry Store
Chariots on Fire
With a single, massive bookshelf, a few small cabinets and an expanse of bare concrete floor, the spare little boutique Chariots on Fire looks empty at first glance. But look closer. Tiny treasures abound. There are sculptural ceramic necklaces with ribbon ties, and carved crystal-and-fossilized wood rings, and stick earrings...
Best Yarn Shop
The first thing that hits you when you enter Wildfiber is the smell: It's soft and almost tactile as it emanates from loops of yarn made from cashmere, wool and alpaca. Located in a 2,000-square-foot former laundry building with high ceilings and boundless serenity, the shop boasts shelf after shelf of yarn...
Best Place to Buy Japanese Knives
Need knives sharpened as well as those used by the famed fishmongers who expertly slice sushi at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market? Look no farther than Hitachiya, an unassuming storefront in Torrance's Rolling Hills Plaza, where Hirota Masazumi personally primes your knives. The original outpost of Hitachiya is located in Tsukiji...
Best Store for Beer Lovers
Select Beer Store Bottle Shop and Taproom
Behind an unassuming glass façade on Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach exists a beer lover's ultimate shopping destination. At Select Beer Store Bottle Shop and Taproom, more than 500 of the finest domestic and imported bottles of beer suggest your paycheck is burning a hole in your wallet, while...
Best Place to Cure a Cold
Tonic & Juice Bar at Erewhon Natural Foods Market
Summer cold got you down? Get a boost from the tonic technicians behind the counter at the Tonic & Juice Bar at Erewhon Natural Foods Market. The bar's juice, shot and tonic menu is extensive — popular drinks include the "tequila shot" (wheatgrass, ginger, lemon and cayenne pepper) and a "green...
Santa Monica Place
The standard suburban mall is roughly the same from Topeka to Topanga: There's your Banana Republic, your J. Crew, your Baby Gap. You can buy shoes at Nine West, a gift for your dude at Champs Sports and, when you're ready for a pause in the shopping, a salad and...
Best Red-Carpet Rentals
One Night Affair
In the City of Angels, it's not uncommon to be invited to extremely fancy parties and events with little to no notice. Enter One Night Affair. Open since 1984, it's an appointment-only establishment that carries more than 5,000 gowns in sizes 0-30. Specializing in bridal, prom and cocktail dresses, it...
Best Pet Healer
The PetStaurant is an animal life-saver, a unique store where owner Marc Ching and his staff guide your furry friends along an individualized nutrition path meant to neutralize their ailments and diseases. Contrary to the name, dogs and cats do not dine in at the establishment next to candelabras and goblets of water. They will,...
Best Place to Buy Designer Jeans
J Brand Factory Outlet
Hidden in the corner of a nondescript strip mall on the outskirts of downtown, the J Brand Factory Outlet is one of those shopping havens frequented only by extremely plugged-in bargain hunters (and, now, you). Among the racks and boxes full of jeans, savvy shoppers can find items with a...
Best Place to Service Your Mercedes
Like many German makers these days, Mercedes has aimed downmarket. You can get an entry-level Benz for nearly $30,000, much less if you don't mind a low-mile lease turn-in with a couple years under its belt. That's Toyota Camry cash. But here's the thing: Keeping your Teutonic ride on the...
Best Consciousness-Raising Shopping
Hidden inside the International Society for Krishna Consciousness is, unexpectedly, a great spot for a lunch date with a girlfriend. On the ground floor is a buffet serving healthful vegan or vegetarian food — all you can eat for $8, or charged by weight if you prefer. After you eat,...
Best Car Mechanic
Mar Vista Service
You would not spot Mar Vista Service from the street. It's tucked behind a stained-glass shop, next to the Curious Palate on busy Venice Boulevard. But it does plenty of business, which suggests good word-of-mouth. Customers report that Raymond, the owner, is the type to discourage you from making repairs...
Best Shoe Repair
With shines starting at $12 and dye jobs priced at $50, this little storefront doctor (with another location in Brentwood) isn't cheap. But it's good. A few days with the guys who work the buffing wheel at Shoe Lab and you'll see why $50 is a steal for transforming an...
Best Place to Buy Designer Clothes
Many high-end stores will leave you feeling like a not-so-pretty woman, with sneering clerks everywhere and no Richard Gere in sight. At G*Star on Melrose, you get none of that crap. The entire staff is both friendly and beyond competent; everyone seems genuinely excited to help you find what you...
Best Arts Store
Artist & Craftsman Supply
Caught in a sticky situation searching all over L.A. for glow-in-the-dark Mod Podge, the all-in-one glue, sealer and finish? Head to Artist & Craftsman Supply. Looking for high-quality art supplies on the budget of an after-school art class that you teach in your spare time? Head to Artist & Craftsman...
Best SoCal-Lifestyle Boutique
The Golden State
Walking into the Golden State feels a bit like stumbling into a '60s-era beachcomber's seaside surf shack, one that sells everything from teensy bikinis and pyrite jewelry to handmade notebooks and log-shaped ceramic pot pipes. A third-generation Californian, shop owner Stephanie Addis sells only things that are unique and authentic...
Best Niche Bookstore
Now that Leimert Park has secured a stop on the soon-to-be-built Crenshaw Line, word has it that rents are starting to go up. Here's hoping that trend doesn't displace Esowon Books, which has managed to survive the general decline of brick-and-mortar bookstores. The place is probably best known for its...
Best Isolation Tank
If you are feeling at all uneasy about spending two hours floating in water in total sensory deprivation, Crash, the shaggy-haired, flip-flop–wearing owner of Float Lab, will make you feel at ease. Each of his two womblike chambers is filled with body-temperature saltwater and encased in dark, soundproof walls. With
Best Art Books
Arcana: Books on the Arts
Books, glorious books. Big, lavishly illustrated art books. Located at the southeast corner of the Helms Bakery complex, Arcana: Books on the Arts has shelves full of beautiful books, on topics including fine and popular art, pinup girls, cartoons and comics, film, every era of fashion, travel, design and architecture...
Best Place to Get Flushed
Healing Waters Institute
While colonics might be a daunting thought for some, if one ever requires or desires this purportedly detoxifying treatment, Healing Waters Institute in Studio City is a great place to get flushed. The clean and cozy facility features state-of-the-art equipment that makes colon irrigation mostly comfortable and largely non-invasive. Owner
Best Surplus Military Shop
A popular stomping ground for television and film studios looking to outfit entire casts in military wear, Burbank's Supply Sergeant has a wide array of surplus clothing, selling everything from American uniforms from the Vietnam War to foreign military gear from Germany, France and the former U.S.S.R. It's the holidays,...
Best Place to Shop Like a Housewife
Kyle by Alene Too
You can't swing a dead pocket dog these days without hitting a chintzy product being peddled by one of the Real Housewives, but lucky for us, in Beverly Hills, the standards seem a bit higher. (But of course.) Case in point: Housewife Kyle Richards has turned her fame and love...
Best Downtown Emporium
Hammer and Spear
A gem lies behind, near, on or in every pillow, trunk and bathtub in this downtown treasure trove. Thanks to the owners — much-praised interior designer Kristan Cunningham (Design on a Dime) and her husband, Scott Jarrell — the home decor collection at Hammer and Spear is so perfectly curated...
Best Place to Buy Used Furniture
Vintage furniture store TINI — which stands for This Is Not Ikea — grew out of owner Alexis Hadjopulos' serious shopping addiction (he once had an entire room in his house devoted to nightstands). His unique finds come from garage sales, estate sales, flea markets and auctions. Shabby chic lamps,...
Best Selection of Enticing Goods in a Small Space
Broome Street General Store
Call Broome Street General Store Silver Lake's answer to the "I went to Target to buy shampoo, and I spent $150" Facebook page. Step inside the charming, Baltic blue, clapboard bungalow to grab a cappuccino made with beans from Gimme! Coffee and a sandwich from Cube. Why not sniff and...
Best Hunting Shop
Bass Pro Shops
Ask not whether Bass Pro Shops has remote-control duck decoys but rather which species of remote-control duck decoy might be in stock. This store is Bloomingdale's for people who like to kill animals. If you need it to hunt, trap, track, shoot, skin, smoke, cook or otherwise prepare game, Bass...
Best Government Gift Shop
Skeletons in the Closet
The L.A. Coroner's office has a great sense of humor, as is evident in its gift shop, Skeletons in the Closet, which sells everything from coffee mugs with body outlines to fridge magnets with foot tags. Playful caution tape and spiderwebs adorn shelves full of novelty items, like a body...
Best Beard & Bang Trim
The Hive Los Angeles
Lissa Renn's salon, The Hive Los Angeles, doubles as an art gallery, and if you happen to stop in to check out its rotating installations, stay for a trim. Most of the stylists working here have a strong background in barbering, and they're quick to whip facial hair, be it...
Best "I Love L.A." T-shirt Alternative
L.A. is a city of independent thinkers, so why would we even dream of expressing our hometown pride with the same old clichéd "I Love L.A." T-shirt? (Especially when said cliché is just ripping off New York.) Enter N8 clothing, a homegrown company channeling L.A. love into refreshing new designs...
Best Flea Market
Pasadena City College Flea Market
If you're a flea market junkie, odds are you've done time at the Rose Bowl, where rabid crowds can rival those attending the venue's football games. But head 4½ miles east on a different Sunday to the Pasadena City College Flea Market, and you'll find a first-class flea market in...
Best Professional Movers
Usually, "meathead" is a pejorative term. Not for brothers Aaron and Evan Steed. At their company, Meathead Movers, being a meathead is a good thing. The family-owned business started nearly 20 years ago when the siblings realized they needed to make some cash while going to school and participating in...
Best Used Bookstore
Alias Books East
Look, there are some dusty-ass old bookstores out there — and that's cool. But they've usually got 35 copies of Dan Brown's semi-literate diarrhea crammed among shelves overflowing with bedbug-infested copies of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. The bookstores that will carry book lovers through the death of functional paper, however, will...
Best Place to Buy a Reptile
Exotic Life Fish & Reptile
Los Angeles is often accused of being a cold-blooded place. The folks over at Exotic Life Fish & Reptile readily agree, but they love it. After all, their cold-blooded cohorts of choice aren't shifty entertainment producers or slimy executives but rather awesomely colorful and unusual lizards, fish, toads, snakes and...
Best Marijuana Dispensary
Alternative Herbal Health Services
The fact that this shop was approved by the city of West Hollywood, only to be raided twice by feds, is enough to get you to come by and say high, right? President Obama should stay out of our medicine cabinet. We got a tour of the place from Snoop...
Best Vintage Car Makeovers and Sales
If you're shopping for a vintage car that will turn heads yet cost no more than a deadly dull, forgettable used car, SportsCar L.A. is a rare find. Owner Roy Steele has tucked his tiny, clean, indoor car lot behind a gas station in a bleak area just off the...
Best Bookstore Chain
Move over, Barnes & Noble. Keenly aware of the opportunity presented by the death of Borders, two years ago Goodwill Books made its move, renting nice storefronts and stocking them with top-condition hardbacks and paperbacks. The books are costlier than at Salvation Army, say, or Out of the Closet, but...
Best Record Store to Go Treasure Hunting
The Record Jungle
When it comes to record stores in East L.A., Lovell's Records & Tapes in Whittier has a wider selection of music and formats, but the Record Jungle in Montebello is literally a dream come true. If, that is, you're the kind of vinyl-collecting music geek or spun-out turntable die-hard who...
Best Offbeat Museum Bookshop
Center for Land Use Interpretation
The Center for Land Use Interpretation is not quite a museum. Like its neighbor, the Museum of Jurassic Technology, it's more of a meta-museum. It also carries a bonanza of books on any subject, as long as it's a subject related to the land. The center's shop occupies only a...
Best Guitar Store
The guitar's the thing at Truetone Music, which specializes in loud, classic electric guitars. (It has acoustic ones, too, but the emphasis is on the power of unbridled electricity.) One entire long room, annexed from an adjoining storefront, is called Club Fender, and with its spinning, glass display case and...
Best Shop for Bicyclists
If the packs of bicyclists on weekly group rides through Glassell Park look particularly stylish, it's probably because they've been outfitted in Swrve denim cigarette shorts, cotton skinny knickers or lightweight trousers, all handmade at Swrve's world headquarters and sold at the adjoining VeloLove storefront on Verdugo Boulevard. Whereas nearby...
Best Thrift Store
National Council of Jewish Women Thrift Store
L.A. has spectacular thrift stores, but National Council of Jewish Women Thrift Store in Studio City stands above the others because of the high level of fine art that washes down to Ventura Boulevard from the elite canyon enclaves above. On a recent foray, we counted 100-plus pieces, the majority...
Best Swap Meet for Rock & Roll Relics
Santa Clarita Swap Meet
The site of a cowboy rodeo in the 1920s, a hot-rod showcase in the '30s and '40s, and a racetrack that once hosted a NASCAR series in the '90s, the Saugus Speedway's current attraction is an entirely different kind of outdoor spectacle: the Santa Clarita Swap Meet, held Tuesdays, Saturdays...
Best Place to Shop Like You're in Tokyo
Tokyo Japanese Lifestyle Outlet
Everything in Tokyo Japanese Lifestyle Outlet is small, cute, weird and expensive — exactly, as the name suggests, like Tokyo itself. The Sawtelle branch, in particular, is the perfect place to visit after gorging on that 2,000-calorie bowl of ramen across the street at Tsujita. Here you will find, if...