The Serious Shopping Guide: Los Angeles

The Serious Shopping Guide: Los Angeles

by Rob Campbell
The Serious Shopping Guide: Los Angeles

The Serious Shopping Guide: Los Angeles

by Rob Campbell

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The ultimate shopping guide for the stylish Angeleno life.

Clothing for men and women
Furniture and housewares
Many more things you never knew you just had to have

With over 200 listings, The Serious Shopping Guide: Los Angeles is the ultimate hands-on manual to the L.A. retail grail. Rob Campbell has searched for the best and most interesting things to buy in a variety of categories, including housewares, clothing, vintage, antiques, baby wear, and gifts. The Serious Shopping Guide doesn't ignore L.A. standards like Barneys and Fred Segal, but you'll keep it in the glove compartment for its wealth of hidden shopping adventures all over the Los Angeles area.

Campbell also turns shopping up a notch by laying out forty shopping districts from Melrose and Beverly Hills to Glendale and Palm Springs. The Serious Shopping Guide divulges secret haunts and tips you won't find elsewhere--like when the best vintage shops put out new shipments, and which flea markets yield treasures and which ones trash--along with many places that will become your new go-to destinations.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466860841
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/24/2013
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: eBook
Pages: 224
File size: 831 KB

About the Author

Rob Campbell is the author of Plato's Garage (St. Martin's Press, 2000), a collection of biographical and autobiographical essays about the passionate relationship people forgee with the cars in their lives. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Buzz, Out, Genre, and other publications. He lives and works in the San Bernadino Mountains and in Hollywood.

Rob Campbell is the author of Plato's Garage (St. Martin's Press, 2000), a collection of biographical and autobiographical essays about the passionate relationship people forgee with the cars in their lives. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Buzz, Out, Genre, and other publications. He lives and works in the San Bernadino Mountains and in Hollywood.

Read an Excerpt

The Serious Shopping Guide: Los Angeles

By Rob Campbell

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2001 Rob Campbell
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-6084-1



Welcome to the Neighborhood


There's not much to say about this sleepy burg nestled against the San Gabriel Mountains just north of Pasadena. It's pleasant, multicultural, and mostly middle class, with gas prices routinely five cents higher than those in central L.A., and plenty of parking. Its main artery, Lake Avenue, is smattered with oddball thrift shops and minimalls, but keep heading north, past the blocky, imposing early-century church, and you'll find one of my favorite shops. It's one of this guide's premier listings, and Altadena's only one.

McGinty's Vintage Underground
(unique men's vintage wardrobe)
2475 North Lake Avenue
Altadena, CA 91001
(626) 794-4888


Ben McGinty is an ex-punk and insatiable style fiend who maintains a large, dazzling collection of men's suits from the 20s to 70s for the postmodern Dapper Dan, along with shirts, ties, coats, shoes, hats, belts, and jewelry. Everything is of high quality, good design, and in perfect or near-perfect condition, displayed in a sort of museum setting along with the antique cabinets, fixtures, and decorations that have been charmingly jumbled into Ben's converted bungalow. Call for an appointment and spend the afternoon perusing and fitting. Ben is a chatterer, and he'll make you a cup of espresso out on his patio, which is packed with vintage furniture and promotional items. This gem is worth a half-day outing, and insatiable browsers will delight in the oddball assortment of wearable memorabilia. Ben will suggest a tailor should you need one, and he has also recently opened a furniture/home decor department in the quaint storefront right next door. My own prized possessions from this particular haunt include a chocolate-brown 1940s suit and a 1930s German army officer's full-length leather overcoat, which is so warm and heavy that I can wear it only in New York in January.


Popularly referred to as Little India, this small suburb east of Los Angeles is home to several thousand Indian transplants, many from the major metro areas of Bombay or Calcutta. This glorified housing tract spreads east and west of Pioneer Boulevard, which resembles a lost, bustling snippet of the Silk Road. The businesses along the four blocks of Pioneer between 183rd and 187th streets galvanize the local community and have kept it happily resistant to Westernization. Unlike Chinatown or other distinctly ethnic enclaves, Artesia is not set up for tourists. The Boulevard is wide and uninviting, the storefronts are bland and not tricked-out to attract, and the typical person on the street is somewhat leery of goofy Western lookie-loos. Shopping here is not for the easily discouraged, nor for those who are looking for instant gratification. It's an indispensable pilgrimage, though, if you're at all ethnically adventurous in your tastes. Most of the things found here are genuine, everyday Indian goods and fashions that are not normally imported by stores carrying Indian goods for Westerners, mostly because they are just too ethnic for the average non-Indian person to get away with on any level. Unabashedly radical couples may consider Artesia a perfect place to shop for their commitment ceremonies, and glamorous non-Indian women who really want to prove that they can wear absolutely anything can find elegant saris in hundreds of eye-popping color combinations.

Dulhan(affordable Indian formal wear and Sunday best)
18604 Pioneer Boulevard
Artesia, CA 90701
(562) 402-8164
TU–SU 11–8 $–$$ A/M/V

A simple storefront with a good selection of northern Indian casual and formal wear for men and women, Dulhan would be a great place to wardrobe an ethnic wedding: Nehru suits for men, with both long and short jackets, in colors from dark somber to earthtone pastel; for women, full skirts and brocaded midriff tops, formal but sexy; shoes as well, with pointy-toed men's loafers in light goatskin up to size 13.

Fashion Galleria(best for Indian accessories)
18327 Pioneer Boulevard
Artesia, CA 90701
(562) 402-7525
TU–SU 11:30–8 $–$$ M/V

This is a little Indian department store for women, with saris, shoes, excellent bags, and lots of bangles. A bright assortment of ten colored glass bangles goes for as little as $3. These are fun, disposable bracelets which are rather fragile considering their purpose, but I'm intrigued by the possibility of sporadic jewelry breakage; it sounds so dramatic.

Imaaj—Studio Line(glamorous Indian designer wear)
18641 Pioneer Boulevard
Artesia, CA 90701
(562) 402-7177

This well-stocked boutique is the exclusive West Coast carrier of Indian designer Poonam Seth's ladies' formal collection. Seth infuses Indian shapes and style with Chinese fabric and detail, creating theatrical gowns and other pieces that demand a wearer who can outshine them. Beaded shoes, bags, and scarves abound, none of them for the timid.

India Sari Palace(amazing selection of sari fabrics)
18640 Pioneer Boulevard
Artesia, CA 90701
(562) 402-7939
TU–SU 11–8 $–$$$ A/M/V/D

A sari is basically a choli top, which is a tightly fitted midriff, and an immense piece of fabric that wraps around the body to create a sheath and train/scarf. Here you'll find a huge selection of fabrics that the local gals use to make their own beautiful saris. Household hint: also good for pillows, curtains, tablecloths, etc.

India Silk & Fashions(wild array of saris and accessories)
18606 Pioneer Boulevard
Artesia, CA 90701
(562) 924-3383
TU–SU 11–8 $–$$$ M/V/D

Have fun finding any kind of sari you might want to wear, from demure monotone pastels and white to outrageous hot pink swirled with orange and gold metallic. The staff is friendly, and if you're non-Indian, be prepared for a little jab or two at your expense. While not inexpensive (be prepared to pay about $200 for a good one), saris are ever so much more interesting than that little red dress you used to wear when you were feeling wild.

Karim Jewelers(handmade and antique fine jewelry)
11810 E. 186th Street
Artesia, CA 90701
(562) 809-4391

This store boasts a fine selection of elegant, custom-made, traditional Indian jewelry design with a modern twist. The look is delicate but substantial, with lots of spindly curls and spirals, though you can find simple pieces here too. Madonna, Oprah, and Halle Berry have all availed themselves of the designer's services.

Neema Sari Palace(affordable costume jewelry — and saris, of course)
18427 Pioneer Boulevard
Artesia, CA 90701
(562) 860-1135
TU–SU 11–8 $–$$ M/V

Another little women's department store carrying saris, shoes, bags, and other accessories, Neema Sari Palace is a great place to shop for Indian costume jewelry. Like Karim's designs, they're delicate but substantial, although here they're lighter-looking and more jangly, with lots of little colorful stones. This is a great place, along with Maya on Melrose, for teenagers or struggling working girls to feed their jewelry bug.

Sari Boutique(supercute saris, blouses, and accessories)
18619 Pioneer Boulevard
Artesia, CA 90701
(562) 860-1076
TU–SA 11–8, SU 11–7 $–$$$ A/M/V/D

This boutique has a younger look than the others. Think of it as the Contempo of Little India. With cute, affordable saris and a rainbow of choli tops sold separately (about $35–$40) — a rarity — Sari Boutique lures lots of trendy chicks to Artesia, including Gwen Stefani of No Doubt. Also look for cute, more casual bags and shoes than can be found in the other shops. And remember Diana Vreeland's famous aperçu, "Pink is the navy blue of India."

PARKING, WALKING, AND EATING: Park at the two-hour meters on the west side of 183rd and Pioneer. It's not terribly exciting to walk around here, but it's a small area, and easily covered on foot. Have a snack at Standard Snack and Sweet (18600 Pioneer Boulevard), where you can choose from a variety of crunchy, salty mixes, gooey Indian sweetmeats, and a large selection of generous, mostly vegetarian combination lunch plates at minuscule prices.

Beverly Hills

I include Beverly Hills not because I believe anyone who can actually afford to shop there on a regular basis needs a guide to the area, but to acquaint those who treat it with disdain, are fascinated by it, or even fear it, with its hidden charms. A hundred years ago, Beverly Hills was an immense bean field supplying the bustling kitchens of The United States Hotel downtown. It has since become a millionaire's village so extreme in its affect that it has almost become its own satire. I can't tell you how many times I've pulled up to back into a parking slot only to have it stolen by a butter-yellow Mercedes or bronze Rolls Royce containing a big-haired woman with a faraway look in her eyes and an automatic smile plastered across her recently tightened face. You can hardly blame them. Shopping in Beverly Hills is like an ecstatic journey for some people, and if they live there too, in its clean, pampering embrace, the experience can become a sort of meditation on privilege and luxury. I like to think of Beverly Hills (did I mention it was the sister city of Cannes, France?) as a slightly corny, old-fashioned cathedral city, one that has shrunk and clung to its churches, chapels, and shrines, each of them a monument to fashion and money. As I would in its authentic European counterparts, say Nantes or Reims, I enjoy both laughing at the philosophical import behind its relics, and appreciating their undeniable opulence. When visiting, I always include pilgrimages to the following sites of wonder and prayer:

Chanel Chapel
400 N. Rodeo Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 278-5500
M–SA 10–6, SU 11–5 $$$$–$$$$+ A/M/V/D

This white, glass, and shiny black block, regal on its prominent corner, has been hidden under scaffolding twice in the past decade, but in keeping with its founder's severity, it hasn't altered its look a bit. You might say the same for Chanel's ready-to-wear line, which still features Coco's boxy suits, though now in bright colors (pink is a perennial favorite) and odd fabrics. Actually, the last few years have seen a lot more interesting cuts, and even a flirty little sectioned neoprene line of minidresses and separates. But the real objects of devotion here are the shoes: long, lean, and glowing with power and superiority.

Gucci Temple
347 N. Rodeo Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 278-3451
M–SA 10–6:30, SU 12–5:30 $$$–$$$$+ A/M/V/D

Until recently, Gucci was the most snooty, poorly laid-out place of worship on Rodeo, but its excellent makeover has produced an airy, multitiered villa, and its staff is genuinely helpful and charming. They remind me of Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant in The Grass Is Greener, where they, as old-line nobles, have to open their grand house to the public due to dwindling funds. And it's true that Gucci has bucked this trend, as well. Tom Ford's women's line is eclectic without losing its signature, and his men's stuff is the most edgy and sly of the big designers'. Though I don't wear Gucci shoes myself, I have a large number of male friends representing all style leanings who make a yearly pilgrimage to this site for the latest loafer (about $350). A friendly doorman will welcome you into the store's large, open, grand hall full of bags, scarves, and accessories. After you explore the style-specific cubbyholes that surround the foyer on three levels, relaxing on the cunningly placed, comfy leather benches and armchairs when necessary, the doorman will say, "Thank you for visiting Gucci, have a nice day," whether you're carrying a bag or not. Now that's progress.

Neiman Marcus Cathedral
9700 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 550-5900
M–SA 10–6, SU 12–6 $$–$$$$+ A/D/STORE CREDIT CARD

Though I am often shunned for it, I believe Neiman Marcus is the best department store of the three Wilshire titans, which also include Barneys New York and Saks Fifth Avenue. I think a lot of people don't like it because it was founded in Texas, and upscale Californians can't bear the idea of it, but it has the most complete selection of designers in all areas, and the most friendly assistance, at least in my experience. (Of course, I'm not going to make any sweeping statements about the staff of large department stores in this book, because their variety is endless. Besides, salespeople are only human, and they react to and interact with every other human in a completely unique fashion.) Neiman's house line, especially for men and children, is sleek and affordable at about half the price of the designer lines it apes. Actually, here's why I decided that Neiman Marcus was the best: One day I went out with the idea that I would find a short-sleeved Missoni sweater in black, blues, and greens to go with a pair of black slacks and blue dress loafers I had. I first went to Barneys, where no one spoke to me, and they only had the more conservative Missoni styles, most with polo shirt collars. Saks had only long-sleeved styles in earth tones and filmy, $300 T-shirts. Every ten steps in Saks, I was heavily greeted and solicited by their extremely helpful salespeople. Only Neimans had all the styles both the others had, plus my black, blue, and green retail grail, alternated on a rack with a black, red, and orange number. It set me back just under a month's rent, but I left supremely satisfied. Service was friendly, but unobtrusive. The only weird thing was the fact that they didn't take VISA, but I thought it was sort of charming writing an old-fashioned check. Have some caviar at the little midstore diner if you can afford it. And no, there is no $250 chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Prada Shrine
343 N. Rodeo Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 385-5959
M–SA 10–6, SU 12–5 $$$$–$$$$+ A/M/V/D

The most exigent of my pilgrimage sites, Prada's boutique is long, narrow, and elegantly minimal, designed to draw one's attention to the devotional objects that line the walls and lounge atop meticulously lit platforms. Salespeople here are reverent and well-informed, and you'll be greeted as if by docents patrolling a major museum's most prized collection. It's also the only Rodeo boutique from which I would actually purchase something if I could. Muccia Prada's severe, nearly monkish men's line carries nary a hint of conservatism, but provides the ultimate power suit; think of Mao Tse-tung mixed with James Bond. Her women's line, as well, is not for those who crave the classically glamorous, with its odd cuts and fabrics. A pair of Prada shoes or a Prada bag, though, is an inevitable part of every fashion hound's wardrobe, even if Prada's clothing proves too demanding for them.

XIV Karats Ltd.(fine wholesale-priced jewelry from $10 to $1.5 million)
314 S. Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 551-1212
M–SA 9:30–5 $–$$$$+ A/M/V/D

South of the central shopping area in the midst of a strip of more or less unprepossessing shops and cafés, this is quite possibly the only jewelry store you'll ever need. Ron Rosenblum runs this second-generation family business (which began in the wholesale jewelry district downtown and moved to Beverly Hills in the 70s) with care and energy, and every client is treated as one of the clan. His sales staff is friendly and helpful, but won't pressure you, and the immense selection of gold, silver, and gems includes something for every taste and budget. Use their free valet parking, and plan to spend some time doing some serious browsing in this hallowed hall.

Parking, Walking, And Eating: Park in one of the many convenient, two-hour free municipal lots in the major shopping district on Rodeo and Beverly Drives between Santa Monica and Wilshire. It's most fun to explore without a plan, because certain things will draw you in and lead you on to others. Eclectic when it comes to food, Beverly Hills is home to low-end dives like the Bagel Nosh, middle-of-the-road eateries like Acapulco and The Cheesecake Factory, and high-end superstar restaurants like Wolfgang Puck's and Barbara Lazaroff's Spago Beverly Hills. If the price tags you peruse give you culture shock, The Gap and Starbucks are close at hand on Beverly Drive.


Excerpted from The Serious Shopping Guide: Los Angeles by Rob Campbell. Copyright © 2001 Rob Campbell. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Introduction and User's Guide,
Map of major areas covered,
Part I: Welcome to the Neighborhood,
Part II: The Shopping List,
Part III: The Retail Grail,
Also by Rob Campbell,

Customer Reviews