Antiquing in Los Angeles

Photo courtesy of Surfing Cowboy, Facebook

By Barbara Beckley

As home to the rich and famous and with more museums than most cities, it’s no surprise that Los Angeles is an antique-lover’s paradise. Plus, with all the Hollywood movie set designers on the prowl for period pieces there has to be collectible shops galore.

Haut couture antiques from Marie Antoinette’s Paris to mid-century marvels and vintage comic books to aged costume jewelry, LA is packed with irresistible treasures – if you know where to look. So, here’s the scoop on some of the best antiquing spots in town.  

Abbot Kinney Boulevard

This stylish shopping avenue in Venice, just steps from the beach, delivers a mix of high-end and funky antique shops, enhanced by possible star-sightings of the celebs who frequent them. For a piece of So Cal’s legendary beach culture, pop into the Surfing Cowboys. It’s an eclectic jumble of mid-century furniture, surf memorabilia – think ‘60s long boards and original “Gidget Goes Hawaiian” movie posters – vintage surf bum Ts and shirts and sought-after skate boards. Looking for country chic? Bountiful specializes in gorgeous 19th century French and American furnishings from painted furniture to cast iron urns and glittery chandeliers from Italy.

Mid-Wilshire/Fairfax District

From acclaimed antique boutiques to mom-and-pop second-hand shops like Jorge’s Antiques and Restoration, the Fairfax District is a gold mine for hunter-gathers of the retro kind. Francophiles rejoice inside Vintage Weave Interiors, Inc., hailed as “the best Parisian imports” by Los Angeles Magazine. Set up like a French flea market, it overflows with farmhouse-style antiques including garden items, bistro items, pedestal cake plates, farmhouse tables and many noted French brands. American Garage Antiques thrills Americana fans with 18th and 19th century American painted country antiques, industrial, rustic and folk art from ships’ wheels to moose heads and circus signs. Meltdown Comics & Collectibles is the largest pop culture emporium west of the Rockies, with 9,000 square feet of retro and new comics, vinyl and comic-related collectibles; and Shine Gallery features thousands of never-used memorabilia items from 1910 to the 1950s collected from around the world, including Howdy Doody and Kewpie dolls, presidential buttons, pennants, old match boxes and Disney memorabilia. The locals recommend the Melrose Trading Post -- a Sunday street fair held in the Fairfax High School parking lot -- for rare goodies. Nearly 200 eclectic vendors and a live jazz band make for entertaining treasure-hunting.      

NoHo (North Hollywood)

The thrill of the hunt doesn’t get any better for art or affordable for vintage collectibles than in the NoHo Arts District, a bohemian-style neighborhood of theaters, galleries, artists’ lofts and sidewalk cafes. The “NoHo Antique Row” – as those in the know call it – a collection of trend-savvy mom-and-pop shops along Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood is a mother lode of treasures. Mid-century, antique, architectural salvage, collectibles, junk and jewels fill stores including Santiago’s Antique Shop, Angel’s Antiques, Cruz Antiques, Zavco Fine Art & Antiques, Frank’s Antiques and others. If you don’t find what you want in one, check out the next – they’re mostly within walking distance. L’Imagerie Gallery is Nirvana for poster fans. It boasts a huge collection of movie posters from all over the world, plus rock concert posters and low brow and pop surrealistic art work. Art takes a Hollywood spin at Gallery 800, which showcases  the works of talented entertainment industry professionals; while the NoHo Gallery LA is famous for cutting-edge works by LA artists, and Cella Gallery wins raves for contemporary fine art by established and emerging artists, affordable prints and art books no higher than $10.  

Ventura Boulevard

Throughout the San Fernando Valley, Ventura Boulevard is a hot ticket for collectibles and antiques from door knobs to silverware. Movie studio set designers particularly like the one-stop shopping at the Sherman Oaks Antique Mall. Founded in 1982, it’s one of LA’s oldest antique centers, with some 95 dealers. From Barbie to Baccarat, you’ll fine it all: Victorian, Art Deco, china, glassware, toys, kitsch, reference books and more. There is so much vintage costume jewelry, with piles of Bakelite, that residents have nicknamed it “The Jewelry Mall.” Individual antique boutiques cater to distinct tastes, as well. Need a 19th century bamboo console table? Mitchell Litt Home has an exquisite mix of modern and antique imports from more than 35 countries, with an emphasis on 18th and 19th century Oriental furniture. Looking for a mid-century modern mirrored four-poster bed? The Ivy has one in its eclectic retro-modern mix of antique Staffordshire china figurines, Victorian settees, oil paintings and vinyl-and-chrome vintage chairs. Antique sterling and silver plate flatware shines bright at the Beavers Den Antiques, Inc. Matching vintage silver patterns is their specialty, along with gorgeous silver vases, coffee sets and other sterling discoveries.

Neighboring Regions

Located in Whittier, King Richard's Antiques was started in 1979 by Richard Bowlin and Jim Slevcove. Featuring over one acre of antiques, King Richard's Antiques spans 47,000 square feet and 260 dealer spaces across three floors. This "one-stop" antique destination is located in a 100+ year-old historic building, and is the largest antique mall in California. King Richard's specializes in antique and period furniture (Italian, French, Victorian, Western, retro/modern or mid-century), antique and vintage jewelry, collectibles, vintage clothing and offers services like appraising and auctions.

12301 Whittier Blvd., Whittier, 90602