Once the city's ultimate cutting-edge shopping mecca, Melrose Avenue has become more akin to downtown L.A.'s Santee Alley and Hollywood Boulevard over the past several years, a hodgepodge of hoochie wear, bongs, bellybutton rings and gaudy Ed Hardy gear. Higher-end designers like Marc Jacobs, Miss Sixty and Diesel may have chic'd up the street west of Fairfax, but walking east from there to La Brea is another story. Cheap heaps and bored shop workers standing on the sidewalks abound (exceptions: the buzzing Floyd's Barber Shop and outside restaurants like Johnny Rockets and Govind Armstrong's 8 Oz. Burger Bar. Here, a few more who break the Melrose monotony …

Like dead things? Necromance, the ultimate destination for dark (and departed) goods, has jewelry made from real bones, teeth and claws; sterling silver rings and things with animalistic inspiration; specimens in jars; real skulls; gothic Victorian-style home décor; horns and taxidermy; bugs in Lucite; X-rays; vintage medical supplies; and so much more. If you've never been there, it might sound creepy, but the 17-year-old shop's aesthetic is more scientific than scary. And while those with a taste for the macabre are obviously the main market, this little natural-history curio shop has a wide range of fans, and is doing well enough to have opened a second outlet a couple of spaces down.

—Lina Lecaro

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