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Best Place to Buy Vintage T-Shirts
Tucked inside this small storefront on South La Brea with a ruby red carpet lies the absolute mecca for vintage rock & roll T-shirts. Clothing designer Kelly Cole, an ex–club kid/DJ/restaurant owner, has become one of the foremost experts in tracking down ultra-rare, original tees. Be warned: They don't come...
Best Steampunk Jewelry, Hats and Duds
One of L.A.'s great eccentric clothiers, Clockwork Couture is where serious steampunks source their parasols, gloves, frilly hats, goggles, gowns, long coats, leather "harness," corsets, boots, walking canes, medals of uncertain origin and, of course, timepieces. Reveling in the reimagined world of Victorian romance, steam travel, dirigibles and buccaneers, the shop can...
Best Cocktail-Dress Maker
Olga Dress Maker
There's this crazy little dress shop on Sherman Way in Canoga Park, its walls festooned with hot numbers like a stretchy ruched purple cocktail mini-dress and a pink satin off-shoulder club-dancing gown. Off to one side, bent over her work, sits Olga, with her power sewing machine and her handmade...
Best Environmentally Friendly Boutique
Reformation might seem like one of the least likely L.A. boutiques to scale up. Yet the fashion line that made its name handcrafting chic, feminine pieces out of fabric salvaged from vintage threads has opened two shops in New York, raised $12 million in financing in 2015 and is positioned...
Best New Shoes That Look Vintage
If you love the look of vintage but don’t love the idea of slipping your foot into shoes once worn by a stranger, you can circumvent your squeamishness at Re-Mix. The shop used to source vintage kicks for theater, film and television — but when the supply of quality vintage...
Best Tutu Pile-Diving
If you were worried you'd have to capture sugarplum fairies to fulfill your dream of swimming through tulle, you'll be relieved to learn of Danny's Warehouse, where, turning a corner, you find yourself face-to-face with a pile of tutus taller than you are. Danny's also sells anything dance-related, and everything...
As the great Billy Crystal character Fernando said, "It is better to look good than to feel good." You would think that such a maxim would rule our world in a town obsessed with celebrities. Not so. Angelenos, especially the men, dress like slobs. Lizon Tailors in Palms can set...
Best Quaint Shopping Area
Montrose Shopping Park
A stroll through Montrose Shopping Park feels like a time-machine trip to a nonspecific decade. In fact, there's a watch store called Time Machine. A few miles from shopping behemoths such as the Americana at Brand and Glendale Galleria, this Main Street–esque stretch of Glendale looks painstakingly vintage. Aside from a few...
Best Drive to Buy Great Used Books
The Book Cellar
Once a locals-only secret hidden in the basement of an oak-shaded city library in Agoura Hills, the Book Cellar has become a go-to used bookstore set in gorgeous countryside at the end of a perfect morning drive. Snap up trade literary novels, hardback biographies, cool old how-tos and niche cookbooks,...
Best Used Graphic Novels
The Iliad Bookshop
Because it refuses to follow the same path that lesser used bookstores took to their graves, this North Hollywood gem still slings pages in quantity. By adapting to the idea that graphic novels and comic books can be both high art and high literature, the Iliad Bookshop keeps itself relevant...
Best Artisan Gift Cards
Jonathan Wright & Co
Even in these digital times, it still seems an increasing number of life events require a gift and a card, and if you're lucky the 19th-century Chandler & Price letterpress will be in full flow when you enter Jonathan Wright & Co. Carefully crafting a regularly updated selection of simple...
Best Eclectic Gadgets and Novelties
Seeking that perfect off-the-radar gift that will stand out from the pack? The Brat store in Santa Monica is the place to find eclectic treasures that will inspire both a tongue-in-cheek chuckle and a thankful grin from the person who seems to have everything. Proprietress Nancy Hunt, owner of the long gone but...
Best Electronics Store Trip to Fairytale Land
Shopping for a new computer, television or sound equipment doesn't have to feel like a chore. Find some inspiration in the magical and unexpected Alice in Wonderland–themed Fry's Electronics in Woodland Hills. After entering through a topsy-turvy rabbit hole and then walking under a giant deck of cards spread out across the...
Best Place to Get Control, Remotely
Walking into Robin's Hobby in Glendale — having narrowed your eyes upon arrival at the humble structure set back from Glenoaks, which resembles a lawnmower repair shop or ancient catering headquarters — you instantly know this place is the authentic, real-deal remote-control hobby shop. The store pulses with unassuming techie-nerd atmosphere. Tiny packets of...
Best Place to Buy Old-Time Radio on CD
Read Books is, first and foremost, a used bookstore. What most people don't realize is that it has a treasure trove of old-time radio shows available on CD. The shop sells everything from sci-fi (X Minus One) and mysteries (The Mystery Train) to noir, crime shows (The Whisperer) and comedies (The Jack...
Best Record Store for Artists and Fans
The Record Parlour
The Record Parlour is a fun, eclectic music mecca in the heart of Hollywood but, unlike its neighbor Amoeba, this music store has a comparatively laid-back vibe. It sells records from all genres, from world music to rock and everything between. Instead of CDs, the focus is on used vinyl,...
Best Guitar Shop (That's Not McCabe's)
Old Style Guitar Shop
Welcome to the anti–Guitar Center — or, as one employee calls it, "L.A.'s most metrosexual guitar shop." It's nothing but chill vibes over at Old Style Guitar Shop, the brainchild of Reuben Cox. Cox is no musician; he's a photographer and a tinkerer. But he knows a heck of a...
Best Place to Buy a Mandolin
McCabe's Guitar Shop
When McCabe's Guitar Shop is not hosting some of the best folk and acoustic concerts in town, this charmingly cluttered Santa Monica institution (in business since 1958) offers the best selection of stringed instruments in town. Its collection of left-handed acoustic guitars alone puts Guitar Center to shame, but it's...
Best Surf Shop
For mysterious reasons, the landlocked San Fernando Valley is home to the best surf shop in Los Angeles. Val Surf has been around since 1962, serving the Valley's demand for surfboards, skateboards and snowboards. Pretty much anyone can afford the first two, making them a perfect fit for America's suburb,...
Best Place to Get Ready to Shred on the Sidewalk
Skateboarding is a confounding puzzle for those of us who lack that elusive, seemingly magical sense of balance and coordination. For those who take to boarding with the ease of a duck in water, the sport must be very freeing. But even a non-natural skater knows that if you wanna...
Best Comfortable, Smoky Man Cave
Fat Stogies Cigar Lounge
Imagine a great, comfortable well-appointed cigar lounge. Now imagine it bigger, more plush and even loungier — if that's a word. Fat Stogies Cigar Lounge in Encino is a colossal emporium of good smokes, casual chatter and decadent seating, a civilized clubhouse for (mostly) men who value an upscale, home-away-from-home vibe as much...
Best Bond-Worthy Weed Dispensary
Billing itself as "a nonprofit research collective," this unassuming Eagle Rock dispensary is as classy as they come. Their security team wears gabardine suits, for crissakes. Strictly by appointment only for first-timers, Cornerstone Collective feels way more like a traditional medical office setting than it does a swinging weed club...
Best Place to Buy Plants
Mickey Hargitay Plants
From the street, Mickey Hargitay Plants looks slightly more exotic than the plants section of a Home Depot, but that changes immediately once you step into the store's 1,500-foot greenhouse. There trees, succulents, cacti, bromeliads and carnivorous plants compete for attention; a few corridors have plants stacked three shelves high...
Best Native Plants
Theodore Payne Foundation
The Theodore Payne Foundation's Sun Valley property was abuzz on a midsummer Saturday morning with both happy pollinators and people from all over the Southland stocking up on drought-tolerant plants. You might have run across TPF staffers or volunteers spreading the gospel of California native plants at your local farmers...
Best Discount Swap Meet
Slauson Super Mall
A staple of South Central Los Angeles shopping for nearly 30 years, Slauson Super Mall started as nine or 10 small kiosks in a strip mall with a giant parking lot. Today, it occupies a massive warehouse with more than 100 stalls. From socks to quinceañera dresses, Jordans to custom...
Best Place to Buy Used Furniture
Son of a Vet
Is IKEA beyond your means just now? Is your cozy and overpriced apartment sized about right for an inexpensive nightstand with attached lamp? Or are you still an analog junkie who loves the sound of scoring a decent VHS TV combo for $9.99? Then Son of a Vet Thrift Shop...
Best Antique Shop
Olde Good Things
One corner of Olde Good Things is jammed with mysterious unmatched industrial-chic metal doors — with or without windows — from schools or sanitariums or God knows where, arranged in easy-to-view stand-up holders. Huge iron lanterns — you couldn't say chandeliers, exactly, about these hefty orbs — hang from the...
Best Stained Glass Classes
Stained Glass Supplies
Founded in 1977, Stained Glass Supplies used to be one of many such shops around Los Angeles. But as stained glass has fallen out of vogue, most of the other ones have closed. Still, there's a dedicated group of crafters who want to learn how to make beautiful windows and...
Downtown Framing Outlet
We've all got that one poster — or 12 — waiting patiently to be uncoiled from its tube and mounted with dignity. Just get it done already, by swinging past this small shop at the east end of Sunset Boulevard. Downtown Framing Outlet's owner, Jose Saca, and his son Moises...
Best High-End Community Grocery
Pasture-raised local eggs with brown and green speckles. Homemade sausage. Baskets of colorful farm-to-store sweet peppers. Raisins on the vine. Urban Radish is every foodie's dream grocery store. Owner and passionate food enthusiast Keri Johnson envisioned it as an extension of her own pantry at home, with the added mission...
Best Asian Market
Little Tokyo Market Place
Sure, downtown L.A. could use more grocery stores. But it already has the best of the best. Little Tokyo Market Place is prepared for every craving, with a sushi stand, noodle kiosks, ready-to-eat roasted mackerel and kimchi pancakes, not to mention wells of pre-marinated bulgogi. In the mood for salty...
Best Italian Market
Sorrento Italian Market
For more than 50 years, the family-owned Sorrento Italian Market has brought a taste of its creator's native Italy to the Culver City area. The old-fashioned Sorrento's has the solution to any craving for Italian, no matter your budget. If you're down for DIY, take home some 100 percent Sicilian...
Best Armenian Bakery
Paradise Pastry & Cafe
At Paradise Pastry & Cafe, size matters. Having expanded over the years since it opened in 1994, the Armenian-owned store (currently being renovated after a fire in 2013) takes up nearly an entire block, and includes a separate, small restaurant across the street that serves hot and cold meals. A place that...
Most Sophisticated Sweets Store
You won't find plastic bins, brown bags or old candy in what Sugarfina owners call their "luxury candy boutique." Rosie O'Neill and Josh Resnick dreamed of a candy store for grownups in an inviting environment, which "would be exactly what my house would look like if I didn't live with a...
Best Birthday Party Snacks
California Snack Foods
Want to blow a dieter's mind? Convince them — correctly — that cotton candy is a sensible dessert: No fat, easy to savor, only 110 calories a stick. Those are the justifications you'll make when you find yourself driving to the deep Eastside suburbs to stock up on California Snack...
Best Artisanal Jellies, Pickles and Syrup
E. Waldo Ward & Son
E. Waldo Ward & Son has been packing and selling small-batch jellies, marmalade, syrups, pickles and relishes from a farm in Sierra Madre since 1918. The Ward family still sells its products from a tiny room above the barn and gives free tours of its largely unchanged packing house and orchards...
Best Vegan Shop
For vegans and the lactose-intolerant, Vromage is the place to live out your cheese fantasies. There are piles of "veganzola" (the most popular item), brie and camembert, smoked gouda and spicy cheddar, all made from nut milk, seeds and olive oil. The shop, located in a strip mall just east...
Best Wine Shop to Find That Rare Bottle
The Wine House
Family-owned, the Wine House has been serving oenophiles (and those who just like a nice pinot) since 1978 in an 18,000-square-foot wine lover's mecca. They travel the world, building relationships and making exclusive deals, says co-owner Glen Knight. And they look in their own backyard. "We buy a lot from...
Wettest Drinking Water
Plastic bottled water is out, given that most bottles never decompose and have this nasty habit of finding their way to our oceans, only to float to some Arctic nether region where it's just a matter of time before a litter of baby penguins suffocates, having stuck their heads inside...
Best Body/Mind/Spirit Tune-Up
Kleinbart Synergistic Chiropractic
Armed with an uber-expansive arsenal of ever-more-out-there alternative modalities, Dr. Sally Kleinbart is so much more than a next-level, amazing chiropractor. She is a straight-up, full-service, medicine woman. Kleinbart, who works out of a DTLA high-rise, is a veritable master of structural integrity. Intuitive, educated and experienced, with a strong...
Best Full-Service Spiritual Hub
Nestled on a quiet strip of Spring Street in DTLA, The Springs is, hands down, L.A.'s coolest full-service spiritual hub. Its offerings are vast and high-vibing, including a raw vegan restaurant with wine bar and beer on tap, which is a little confusing given that most folks who won't ingest...
Facials by Karina
First, the facts. In just six sessions, facialist Karina Kara cured my skin, an achievement I'd deemed impossible since, oh, the age of 15. Forget fancy Beverly Hills salons. If you really want to fix your face, head to East Hollywood, park in front of Facials by Karina's unassuming fourplex...
Best Tattoo Artist
Let's face it: Most tattoos look the same. But not the work of Daniel Meyer, a recent Los Angeles transplant from Kassel, a small, ancient city in the heart of Germany. Meyer is an illustrator and graphic designer by trade, which helps explain why his work looks less like tattoos...
Best One-Chair Hair Salon
In our style-conscious city, it's hard to find the middle ground between Supercuts and high-end stylists that can set you back half a paycheck. That's what makes Crop, an appointment-only, one-chair salon tucked away in the Garvanza section of Highland Park, such a gem. For only a little more than...
Best Cat Groomer
If you have a cat — especially a long-haired beast — you know that booking a groomer is about as hard as picking your kid's preschool. If they'll actually accept your monster, it's going to be expensive. Which makes Hollywood Pets a godsend. For just $35, your cat can get...
Best Pet Maintenance
Marc Ching sits at a table at the PetStaurant, consulting with an anxious-looking couple about their dog's yeast and urination issues. If he notices anyone lingering nearby, he immediately asks if they have a question or need help. PetStaurant owner Ching draws on his background as a fourth-generation Japanese herbalist...
Best Service for Getting Kids Around
It's a tale as old as time. You and your kids need to be in three different places, freeways apart, and there's just one of you and no time machine. HopSkipDrive is a ridesharing service for children ages 7 through 18. Yes, it's like Uber for minors. But that description doesn't do...
Best Bicycle Shop
Golden Saddle Cyclery
Whether you're an everyday bike commuter, a weekend trail warrior or the occasional CicLAvia participant, you need a good set of wheels. The friendly and knowledgeable staff at Golden Saddle Cyclery have you covered, and won't get all snooty if you don't know your stuff. Kyle Kelley and Thomas "Woody"...
Best Low-Cost Bike Shop
Coco's Variety Store
What started as an all-purpose variety store has evolved into L.A.'s go-to spot for reasonably priced used bikes. Coco's Variety Store doesn't just flip bikes, it rebuilds them from scratch and sells them with a warranty. Owner Peter Vermeren has 25 years of experience as a garage-sale picker, which he...
Best Auto Salvage Yard
LKQ Pick Your Part
If you have an older car whose "recycled" parts cost you as much as dinner at Bestia, you'd be amazed how easy it is to remove, rather than install, an auto part yourself. Take your tools, gloves and sunscreen and head to LKQ Pick Your Part in Sun Valley, a...
Best Selection of Used Japanese Car Engines
Soken Trade Corporation
It's nice to know a trustworthy mechanic, but sometimes your car needs more than a quick fix. The next time your Civic's engine explodes on the 110, make your way to Soken Trade Corporation. Tucked away in a warehouse/garage space in North Hollywood, this shop sells used motors and transmissions...
Best Camera Store
It's rare that one store can satisfy both the professional and the neophyte, but Samy's Camera is that store. This four-story, 40,000-square-foot behemoth sells and rents practically any camera you could possibly imagine, from Polaroids to drones, and everything in between. There's even a Leica boutique tucked within. Founded in...
Best Mobile Phone Repair
L.A. iPhone Repair & Unlock Center
If you want to know who the biggest party person is at the club, just look for the one with the shattered smartphone screen. That just screams crazy. The phone is a reflection of one's soul. Don't be that person. L.A. iPhone Repair, a small storefront south of Beverly Hills, is...
Best Hidden Watch Repair
Despite an abundance of bare wrists now, people still wear watches — and treasure them. They don't become obsolete, can take a bash or two, and their batteries run out far less frequently than in the past. But where do you go when the hands stop moving? Almost impossible to...
Best Local Watch Manufacturer
If you didn't think people in L.A. made watches, you're wrong. The art of luxury watchmaking thrives at a shop in downtown Los Angeles where the nascent Refined Hardware is headquartered. These online-only, highly engineered, handmade timepieces, which can be customized into bespoke pieces (from $1,675) via a "make-it-yourself" app...
Best Copy Shop for Would-Be Celebs
A copy shop isn't exactly a destination. Kinkos evokes quotidian terror. And it makes sense given that each part that makes the copy shop whole (printer, scanner, computers) is typically gray, or shades thereof. Tucked in a mini-mall in North Hollywood, NoHo Copy has managed to transcend bland and do...