“You always buy me the same shit.”
If you haven't heard that before, consider yourself amongst the lucky lovers whose significant others keep their thoughts to themselves. That one year your girlfriend ooh-ed and aww-ed over the flowers and cleverly-packaged chocolates you gave her? She might have been faking it.
And even if your babe likes getting classic gifts for Valentine's day, it couldn't hurt you to maybe think outside the box when it comes to cute trinkets. Especially if you're looking to conquer a new beau. It's like a wise man once said: the more creative you are, the higher your chances of getting laid. Or something like that.
So hop in your love mobile and hit up Los Angeles' more cooky shopping spots for gifts that will make your Valentine's Day less lame.
8. Books Upon Books Upon Books: The Last Bookstore
While the rest of Downtown focuses on the new and trendy, The Last Bookstore pays homage to a simpler time when people kept their noses in books, not Nooks. The two-story locale gives bookworms and record fiends a safe haven for their misunderstood passions and proves a treasure trove for alternative Valentine's Day gifts. When you venture upstairs, a sign at the entrance encourages you to take a box and fill it with whatever your heart desires from shelves brimming with $1 books. Cookbooks, romance novels, parenting books (not for a first date), travel guides, sci-fi finds and more mean you can surely find something for your bookworm lover. Grab a box, fill it, wrap it and voila — you've got yourself a retro, DIY, hipster gift you can spin any way you want. If your lover doesn't get it, simply retort: at least I didn't buy you flowers. 453 S. Spring St., Dwntwn.
7. Let's Get Analogue: Lomography Gallery Store Los Angeles
If your boo can't get enough of the retro filters on Instagram and finds film photos way cooler than digital ones, see just how much they mean it by buying them an actual film camera. Lomography LA brings analogue photography back to life with enough cameras and accessories to feed any film photography fix. Does your lover spend tons of time on iPhoto distorting faces and creating their own Pop art? Go with the fisheye camera or Pop 9 Gold. Does he/she prefer capturing huge landscapes with gorgeous sunsets? Invest in a panoramic. For an even more vintage look, grab a Diana F+ based on the 1960s camera. Nothing like some old-school pics to set the mood. 7998 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hlywd.
6. Music Notes: Grammy Museum Store
Every couple has a song that is their song but if your lover proves especially good at knowing almost any song out there, consider buying them a music-related gift. The Grammy Museum honors music through exhibits but also novelty items. Once there you can find anything from a set of Abbey Road Studios coasters to a shirt featuring The Doors with the legendary song title “When You're Strange.” 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Dwntwn.
5. Art as Fashion: LACMA
Clothes might rank as the trickiest gifts to buy for any significant other, but thankfully you can get away with buying even a regular cotton T-shirt if it's cool enough. Lucky for you, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art now carries a number of shirts that can satisfy the art lover in your life. The clothing and accessories series “Wear LACMA” combines top-notch designers with museum pieces to create wearable art; the current design features a dapper young man based on a 1791 portrait by Thomas Lawrence. For something more contemporary, the store also carries shirts with images like John Baldessari's Wrong, a funny commentary on the rules of photography. Perfect wear for gallery openings. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire.
4. You're a Wizard, Baby: Whimsic Alley
As far as convoluted and fantastical fictional sagas go, Harry Potter still ranks high on the list. You and your significant other still curl up on the couch and pop in one of the movies every so often — it's ok, you can admit it — so it only makes sense that on Valentine's Day you take your mutual love for The Boy Who Lived and give it a romantic twist. Show your love through a unique gift from Whimsic Alley, L.A.'s Harry Potter heaven. Lose yourself in the store's alleys (yes, that even includes Diagon Alley) and find the perfect HP keepsake for your lover. Wands, robes, quills and more come in various house styles and colors so there's bound to be something that shows your affection for the Hermione, Harry or Ron in your life. 5464 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire.
3. Oh So Clever: Giant Robot Store
If you live with your significant other already, consider buying something practical that you can both use. But instead of heading to traditional spots for home decor, take a trip to Giant Robot. Besides selling art, apparel and more, it offers clever, unconventional trinkets that feel more whimsical and hilarious than those from your average store. Buy something as basic as soap for the bathroom — but in the shape of a kaiju, the Japanese word for strange beast. Make breakfast more interesting with egg molds that come shaped like everything from a bunny to a car. If your husband hates the new pink walls in the bedroom, buy him Super Mario Brothers decals for the laundry room walls. Life at home just got a lot more interesting. 2062 Sawtelle Blvd., West L.A.
Let's Do the Time Warp: Echo Park Time Travel Mart
Let's say your lover doesn't even seem to belong to this era. He/she prefers the time when life meant simply hunting for your food and relaxing in a cave dwelling. Time Travel Mart in Echo Park understands that. Head to the store to find gifts for all types of time travelers. For the traditional gift with a twist, spoil your lovebird with a collection of fragrances with names like Caveman, Dystopia and Silk Road. Turn the romance up a notch with Patron Saint of Time Travel Candles (featuring figures like Albert Enstein). No time travel machine required. 1714 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park.
Lovegame: World 8
Classic video games still hold a special place in some gamers' hearts. If you know someone with a nostalgia for the by-gone days of these games, you can find them an epic gift at World 8. The store offers plenty of classic gaming items but also novelty gifts like a chess game using Super Mario Brothers pieces and a Pac-Man Speaker. This small, local spot also holds tournaments, so you could give the gift of inspiration to your lover to dust off those video game consoles and get to gaming once more. Every Tron needs his Quorra. 1057 S. Vermont Ave., Pico-Union.