By Julie Wolfson
From independent design shows like Unique LA to specialty shops throughout the city, shopping in Los Angeles is always an adventure. These one-of-a-kind businesses make any shopping excursion in L.A. a treasure hunt to find local design, unusual finds and charismatic shopkeepers. For the days when mall shopping isn't on the itinerary, we recommend the following "only in L.A." shops.
Arclight Cinemas is not only one of the premier places in the city to see a film, it's one of the best places to find unique treasures. The gift shop features Bungalow 360 bags, books for movie buffs and pop culture junkies, and loads of quirky tchotchkes lining the shelves. Across Sunset, Space 15 Twenty houses not only a giant Urban Outfitters with a rotating series of pop-up shops, but also Free People, Hennessey + Ingalls Art & Architecture Bookstore, rare vintage at What Goes Around Comes Around and an Umami Burger. Shows in the gallery space range from exhibits of art from Spike Jonze film "Where the Wild Things Are" to Poketo and Kitsune Noir collaborations.
Handbags crafted from vintage leather jackets and other quality leathers are handmade in the Dean store-front studio. Dean also carries watches with chunky leather bands, belts, wrist cuffs and messenger bags. Just down the street from Dean, Billie Lopez and Tootie Maldonado fill their Reform School shop with handmade home accessories, wooden toys, rope bracelets by Tanya Aguiniga and rotating "Student of the Month" art shows.
Be sure to check out South Pasadena, where quaint stores are filled with sweet treats, pretty dresses and gardening products. On Mission Street you'll find something more ferocious, The Dinosaur Farm. This one-stop-shop for kids and adults who like dinosaurs and other whimsical toys is owned by guitarist Dave Plenn, who will help match every customer with the perfect Mesozoic friend. A few doors down is the Fair Oaks Pharmacy & Soda Fountain filled with fun gifts and old fashion soda fountains treats.
Taku and Keiko Shinomoto fill their Tortoise Gallery, located on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice Beach, with contemporary art, jewelry and furniture, and their general store is stuffed with fun home accessories, kitchenware, stationary and books. They describe 'tortoise-life" as "to have feet on the ground and live enriched life." The clean lines and simple design of the Japanese items they sell are made for daily life.