Away from the AMCs, P.F. Chang’s–fronted malls, coffee-shop chains and packs of teenybopper wolves lies a sleepy hamlet of Burbank that’s a shopper’s alternative, nay paradise, to the ever-bustling downtown. Each one of the mostly vintage and antique shops that line Magnolia Park’s quaint and quiet (so quiet you can hear a bird break wind) streets between Buena Vista Street and Hollywood Way is a time travel to whatever period of fashion you wish you’d been born in — back when jeans were above the crack, skirts were below the cheeks, hats were worn on the head, and a Members Only jacket wasn’t a symbol of irony but of your own bad taste. The funky, eclectic boho vibe here is unpretentious and unhindered by a Starbucks or bass-thumping techno pouring out of a store’s speakers. More importantly, the parking is plentiful and free as, well, a bird. So take this handy, dandy guide and begin your virtual stroll.
You can judge a thrift store’s vastness by the smell of mothballs, and at American Way, you’ll have to take an antihistamine the second you walk in. We don’t use the word “everything” lightly, but this place simply does have everything: furniture, appliances, golf clubs, Scrabble games, ski boots, speakers, picture frames, cameras (work, don’t work, who cares!), and piles and piles of cups, cutlery and plates with nary a scratch, chip or dried-up corn flake. Treat yourself to a really good time and find a meal and a woman. Bring a pair of gloves (you an amateur at this?) to rummage through the 14 long racks of men’s, women’s and kids’ clothing that go for anywhere from a couple of bucks to less than a dollar, not to mention the raincoats, wetsuits and wedding dresses (engaged, not even engaged, who cares!) hung on the walls. If you’re a tin can away from Broke Boulevard, the store has occasional 50-percent-off blowouts in addition to Senior Day Wednesdays and Coupon Sundays. This is one of only three locations in California, and all proceeds benefit the Cancer Federation and Helping Hands for the Blind. (818) 841-6013.
With its proximity to the studios, It’s a Wrap takes the clothes off of overpaid actors’ backs (more like underpaid extras) and sells them to you. Donations from film and TV sets, including Coach Carter, The Terminal, Collateral and NYPD Blue, are tagged accordingly, and while most of the wardrobe is of the contemporary, department store variety (Gap, Banana Republic, J. Crew, Nordstrom), keep your eyes peeled for high-end designer goods, like a silk Oscar de la Renta blouse for only $44 and a Nicole Miller dress for $52. A robot prop stands guard over the evening wear on the second floor, with accessories and shoes to match on the first. A collection of not-for-sale costumes, like Sharon Stone’s suit from Diabolique, James Cagney’s boxing shorts from City for Conquest, and Pamela Anderson’s famous red Baywatch bathing suit, are framed on the walls. But Wrap’s specialty is the racks and racks of soap duds courtesy of Days of Our Lives, General Hospital, Guiding Light, All My Children and the like. So who knows? Maybe the outfit you buy turns out to be the same one Erica Kane wore when she drove off that cliff after having her ninth husband’s baby (this storyline may or may not have been fabricated). (818) 567-7366.
On our first trip to Hubba Hubba,the sign on the door read, “Gone to New York to bring you back more goodies.” These better be damn good, we thought. And indeed they were; you can’t expect anything less from a store that had a Phyllis Diller, Tina Turner and Marilyn Monroe impersonator for its opening in 1987. Everything’s conveniently coordinated according to color and style, including beaded blouses, plaid skirts, black cocktail dresses, silk robes and the cutest cheongsams this side of Chinatown. Hanging from the ceiling is a nifty collection of Jody Watley skirts (why should Madonna get all the cred?) that are a cross between a tutu and petticoat, and even more impressive is the array of hats, from straw to feathered to pillbox to cowboy, displayed in the back. The shoes, including tap shoes, are wisely located in the dressing room, should you come up with a great find and want to dance a jig of glee without anyone watching. (818) 845-0636. Swift is probably the closest to resembling a Melrose boutique, though we’re not sure you can find a pair of authentic mariachi pants for $20 and an Adolfo skirt for $16 occupying the same rack anywhere else. The dresses are fun and flirty, the handbags bejeweled and beaded, and the dainty pumps are obviously too small for even a size 6 — okay, 7. The fingerless gloves were a nostalgic moment, and what would a vintage shop be without vintage buttons (Doobie Brothers; REO Speedwagon; Peter, Paul and Mary; Kiss My Shamrocks) and T’s (that Grease on Ice with Nancy Kerrigan shirt’ll come in handy if you ever bump into Tonya Harding)? (818) 558-1289.
Burbank also happens to have the only Wilson’s liquidation store in the country, and though a leather and suede outlet might not be a hipster’s idea of bargain hunting, come that one day of freezing cold weather next year, you’re gonna need something warmer than a Members Only. And, get this, the leather and suede are real. Jackets, coats, skirts and pants range anywhere from $9 to $99 and come with tags indicating the factory defects and minor imperfections (okay, so some of the tears are more like gaping holes) that can easily go undetected. You can’t beat a suede poncho for just under $5, and there’s a whole wall of fuchsia-dyed rabbit-fur jackets guaranteed to make you look as cheap as Hef’s girlfriends. (818) 841-7789.
If you like piña coladas, then you’re gonna love Tumblin’ Dice Clothing, ’cause there are more Hawaiian shirts here than all the islands of Hawaii combined can export. Sure, the store has the requisite period pieces — that tuxedo jacket looks like something Horshack would’ve worn to the prom, and that infant-size, blue velvet, feather-trimmed dress obviously came from Phyllis Diller’s childhood closet. And there are plenty of greaser and bowling shirts with painted flames, hot rods and dice for finger-snapping daddy-o’s who still frequent the Derby. (How many of the same white patent leather go-go boots can one place have?) But our eyes kept wandering back to those hanging palm trees, coconuts, flowers and exotic birds. Now we know where everything from Jimmy Buffett’s garage sales winds up. (818) 557-1411.
We don’t use the words everything and junk together lightly either, but Junk for Joy simply does have everything, too, and it really is mostly junk. Not the one-man’s-junk-is-another-man’s-jewels kind of junk, but the Sanford and Son kind of junk that always gets a “what the hell would I do with this?” reaction. Don’t just take our word for it. Exene Cervenka herself was combing through the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s frocks and brooches, with her L.A. Weekly Music Awards badge still hanging from her purse, we might add. Aside from the occasional rock-star spottage, there are limitless reasons to spend a good half-hour here: Halloween costumes of fat Elvis, Evel Knievel, Uncle Sam and the Pope; a chandelier of leis, necklaces, ties and everything-but-leather belts; vintage platforms by Pierre Cardin and Jordache; and an entire wall of Ziplocked band decals, from Styx, Journey and Motley Crue to Hulkamania and Dallas actress Victoria Principal! The leg warmers were another nostalgic moment, but that bin of rather stiff brassieres looked a little suspect. Just when we found a pink, furry flamingo-shaped hat and thought we’d seen everything, we spotted the head of a parking meter priced for $70. Works, obviously doesn’t work, who cares! (818) 569-4903.
Mapping L.A.Magnolia Boulevard
1. It’s a Wrap – 3315 W. Magnolia Blvd.
2. Junk for Joy – 3314 W. Magnolia Blvd.
3. American Way – 3226 W. Magnolia Blvd.
4. Hubba Hubba – 3220 W. Magnolia Blvd.
5. Swift – 3212 W. Magnolia Blvd.
6. Wilson’s – 3117 W. Magnolia Blvd.
7. Tumblin’ Dice – 3108 W. Magnolia Blvd.