Image by kla4067

L.A. sprawls across a wide geographical area, but if you’re looking for a unique shopping experience, you can find just about everything under the sun here!

I was in L.A. over Christmas last year and quite frankly was already shopped-out after getting my Christmas shopping done early back in the UK.

Still, there were some stores that I was determined to visit whilst in L.A.

I heard the blocks between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose were the places to go star spotting. And as luck would have it, this area also provides the most fertile hunting ground for cheap, funky vintage clothing.

Here, you can find THE most fantastic, giant warehouse-sized thrift stores, rammed to the gunnels with bargains!

Image by stevendepolo

When I found Jet Rag store, it was like walking into one huge fancy dress store – except these things are for real. Racks and racks of cowboy boots, original Americana T-shirts, original Levi’s, proper Western style shirts and jackets with suede fringing and even chaps for your trousers.

There were also rails of vintage frocks, every colour imaginable, and the biggest selection of vintage ties, scarves, bags, hats and belts I’ve ever seen!

I felt like a kid in a sweetie shop, and ended up buying a Sarah Lund-style chunky sweater and some wicked hot pink vintage Converse All Star’s for $12!

Cheap as chips.

Gunning for it

 Image by Infrogmation

Shopping for firearms was a new experience. My L.A. buddy wanted to go look at some guns and bona fide, real live cowboys in Stetsons who are looking for firearms or a gun cartridge shop go to the Martin Retting store in Culver City, L.A.

It’s basically a supermarket for things like guns, bullets and knives..bit ‘Dexter’ and eerie..

To a lily-livered English woman, this Hispanic looking single storey building, flanked by palm trees on the pavement, looks like any other store, but then the giant rifle painted on the exterior wall catches your eye and you see the word “GUNS” painted three foot high.  We just do not have this kind of thing at home in the UK!

After we’d been there a while, some shifty looking customers came in; you could sense the security ramp up a bit and the atmosphere grew a little tense.

Time to move on.

 Image by planetc1

Hippy dippy California

Venice is a crazy place, full of hard bodied men in very small shorts, pumping iron. California babes in denim hot pants and not a lot else, and loads of garish colour, everywhere..

Bikes, skateboards, Marijuana, it felt like I’d fallen inside some 1976 movie…

What struck me most about Venice beach was the massive number of pharmacies, like every other store, and instead of a red cross on white, they were green… Maybe this should have given me a clue to what was going on inside them?

At the door of some of these stores were people in white coats trying to lure you in – turns out getting prescriptions this way provides a sneaky way round the American drug laws on weed.

Inside the pharmacies there are real doctors though, and you can tell them anything you like: Ouch, my head hurts, my arthritis is playing up, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a nifty miracle pain reliever of…um, weed…

In the end, all this just goes to show that L.A. is full of surprises and unpredictability, but I think that’s why I love it.

The question is, readers, have you got any L.A. shopping gems for me?


Sarah O’Neill is a globetrotting blogger who currently writes for Cartridge Shop.