This Christmas, I'm shopping local. Too many of my favorite mom and pop shops have closed in recent years. So I'm doing what I can to help out some of my favorite family-owned small businesses, crafts people and artisans.
Here's my list of Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley area businesses I highly recommend. Please feel free to add your own favorites to the comment section. Thanks!
Big Kid Collectables - 14109 Burbanks Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 9140, 818-785-9208: Retro toys, games and more!
Handmade Galleries LA - 14556 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91403, 818-382-3444: Eclectic treasures from over 100 artists and crafts people.
Iguana Vintage Clothing - 14422 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 818-907-6716: Great collection of vintage clothing and accessories! All December, everything, except accessories, is 50% off.
Artisanal LA Holiday Pop-Up Shop - Armory Center for the Arts at 145 N Raymond Ave
Pasadena, CA 91103, 626-792-5101. Over 50 of LA's best local food artisans.
Sherman Oaks Antique Mall - 14034 Ventura Blvd Sherman Oaks, CA 91423, 818-906-0338: Have a friend who'd love a Beatles' lunch box or mid-century vase? You'll likely find them here!
Galco's Old World Market's Soda Pop Stop - 5702 York Blvd, Los Angeles (Highland Park), CA 90042, 323-255-7115: Classic and eclectic soda heaven!! Galco's has a great collection of retro candies, too. Gift idea - make a basket of hard to find sodas and classic candy.
Cavaretta's Deli and Store - 22045 Sherman Way, Canoga Park, CA 91304, 818-340-6626: Family run deli for over 50 years! I love this place. Gift ideas - a food basket of Italian cheeses, sauces, olives, salamis, wines and more. Or just buy a pasta maker. (Photo below: Interior Cavaretta's)
Franklin's Hardware - 21936 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, CA 91364, 818-347-6800: Family owned business since 1952. Have a handy friend? Franklin's will not only offer you great service, but'll be sure to have something from gardening, to grilling to automotive tools.
Vidiots - 302 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405, 310-392-8508: Patty Polinger and Cathy Tauber, indie movie lovers, have owned and run this store since 1985. Need a gift for a movie lover? Vidiots has a great collection of rare films; foreign and independent films are their specialty. I wrote about the store, here.
Junk for Joy - 3314 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505, 818-569-4903: For your vintage clothing-loving friends with "good and bad taste."
Follow Your Heart - 21825 Sherman Way, Canoga Park, CA 91303, 818-348-3240: Started by four friends in 1976, this is just the place to buy a gift for health food and/or vegan friends. They also have a seciton of whimsical and unique gifts. Gift ideas - gift certificate to the restaurant (I love their nut burgers!) or a basket of delicious and healthy foods or organic lotions and cosmetics.
Los Angeles Conservancy - Would like to buy a gift for someone who appreciates history and/or architecure? Buy them one of Los Angeles Conservancy's incredibly informative and enjoyable walking tours. You can purchase tickets right online. Or how about buying them a membership to the conservancy? You'd give a great gift and help preserve the best of LA.
Polka Polish Restaurant - 4112 Verdugo Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90065, 323-255-7887: Owned and run by Polish immigrant husband and wife. Need to find a gift for someone who loves homemade Polish food - or just good homestyle cooking - but they have no idea where to find it in LA? Take them here!
Silverlake Conservatory of Music - 3920 Sunset Blvd., Silverlake, CA 90029, 323-665-3176: Founded by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers - this is not only a wonderful music school, but provides music lessons for under priviledged kids. Tired of buying your child video games? Why not give a life long gift? Music lessons! And you'll be helping a great cause.
Luigi Dellaripa Custom Tailor - 14514 Sylvan St, Van Nuys, CA 91411, 818-786-8432: In business for over 50 years! Stumped by what to buy a well-dressed friend who enjoys fine tailoring, how about a gift certificate to Luigi's Tailoring? (Photo: Luigi)
Dragonfly Stained Glass - 7134 Owensmouth Ave, Canoga Park, CA 91303, 818-340-0245: Larry Joers has run Dragonfly since 1976. How about creating a one of a kind stained-glass gift for that hard-to-buy-for friend or loved-one?
Red Barn Feed and Saddlery - 18601 Oxnard Street, Tarzana 91356, 818-345-2510: Family run for over 50 years! Need a great gift for a four-legged or feathered friend, come to Red Barn.
ITS Net Services - Need a gift for someone who needs a new website? Contact my stepson Adam at his website.
Apex Electronics -8909 San Fernando Rd, Sun Valley, CA 91352, 818-767-7202: So you have an electronic geek to buy for and you're puzzled what to get them? Well, even movie studios raid Apex's wacky rows of robots, rockets, wires and knobs to find cool stuff - I'm sure you can find something unique here.
Other ideas - Take a music-loving friend out to hear live music. And if that friend loves to get funky on the dance floor, try to find King Cotton's "Cold as Ice" playing in LA. If your friend doesn't move to King and Cold as Ice, I suggest getting a new friend (kidding... but only slightly.)
Visit LA Farmer's Market - weaving through the aroma-filled aisles of restaurants, gourmet shops and produce stands - you're bound to find a wonderful gift here.
Then there are all the great boutiques throughout LA, from great little shops in the Sunset Junction area of Silver Lake, to the eclectic stores all along Main Street in Santa Monica, to the vintage and hobby shops on Magnolia in Burbank, to Canoga Park's Antique Row on Sherman Way, between Topanga and Canoga... So much more fun to explore the all-the-same mall stores.
Merry Christmas... happy holidays! I'd love to hear about your favorite "mom and pop" shops and artisans.
*Big thanks to Lisa Ann Walter for giving me the idea to make a list of my favorite small businesses and artists, while she discussed shopping local on her radio show.
Here's a slideshow of some of my favorite LA shops, etc., including LA's Farmer's Market and Downtown Central market.