Shopping and Los Angeles, Los Angeles and shopping. Maybe it’s the super-quick turnover of trends in Hollywood, maybe it’s the demand created by 12 million people living shoulder to shoulder, but Los Angeles has some of the best places to shop in the country.
Most shoppers at Rodeo Drive walk through the stores without buying anything, preferring to soak up the atmosphere created by the designer suits, handbags and jewelry. In the land of $40 socks and $1,000 shoes, everyday consumers probably won’t find too much that fits their personal style and budget. Still, the ambience of the shops can be fun and shoppers can reenact the famous scene from “Pretty Woman” to their heart’s content. Ask the employees at Coach to say the lines back to you and act out the scene, they love that kind of stuff.
The sheer outrageousness of the prices makes it seem like you’re always about to see a celebrity. In truth, rare is the celebrity sighting on Rodeo Drive, but there is a chance.
The Grove is full of the kinds of stores you’ll find in many suburban malls: the Apple store, Gap, Barnes and Noble, but there is also a Farmer’s Market selling delicious organically grown produce and serving crepes and other tasty treats. In winter the Grove rolls out the fake snow and hoists a Christmas tree to make the one in New York look scrawny and lends a generally festive air to the otherwise hot and dry holiday. The Grove also offers the opportunity to take in a movie at one of the finest movie theaters in the country that often plays movies before they are widely released. Producers and directors gauge audience response before they decide how big their advertising budget should be and it’s not uncommon to see actors in the back row taking in their own performances.
Third St Promenade
It’s not really about the shopping on the Third St Promenade in Santa Monica. Each night after dark street performers jockey for territory on this walking street trying to earn the attention and the money of passerby who take in the music, break dancing and tricks of the entertainers.
Shops include places like Pac/Sun, Barnes and Noble, and standard mall fare, but The Santa Monica Pier and the beach is only a few blocks away from the promenade and the city lights illuminate the beach at night.
There are a few Los Angeles shops that have maintained their identity and atmosphere while expanding to be able to compete with the high-volume chains. Amoeba Music, which somehow manages to maintain the personality of an independent, local record store while offering the selection of a Virgin mega-store, is one of the most popular record shops in a city full of singer/songwriters. Hard to find albums from days of yore as well as contemporary popular music on vinyl keep people coming back because it’s an enjoyable shopping experience and the only place to find turntable fodder.