Whew, now that's a headline. Once again, I present my very edited, very opinionated, very particular guide to the best gift stores in Los Angeles. I make no apologies for my preference for the eastside, although you'll find recommendations for all over L.A. proper. If you live outside of L.A., this guide could still prove useful if you visit this smoggy city (plus, many of these stores have online shopping, anyway, so please don't feel left out).
So, without further ado...
House and Decor
A+R: Somehow, A+R always has something interesting and different. Over the last two years I've posted many things found on its site. The store specializes in mostly modernist gifts, many of which are quite useful and beautiful to boot. Even the jewelry is quirky and interesting (a broken quail egg lined with gold and hanging from a fine chain was a standout). Remember great products like the Pantone mugs, Joseph Joseph kitchen products, and the Peace vase? A+R had them first. And it offers a decent price range, too. (At right, Eco-Fuel Lamps)
1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Happy L.A.: Happy is a newer store on a hip stretch of Hollywood Blvd. in Los Feliz, just east of Vermont. It's carefully curated for hip, sometimes edgy, and reasonably priced gifts for just about everyone on your list. Kids might appreciate the Dreamlets dolls or the colorful and classic wooden toys. Adults like the edgy Fred line of smart ass house and office ware. And, if you're looking for affordable art, check out the intimate gallery space upstairs, where works on paper by known LA artists are available for affordable prices.
4675 Hollywood Blvd.
Heath Ceramics: Heath's a big deal. It's been around since 1948, and its tile and tableware are classic, classy, and mesh seamlessly into just about any decor. Its fabulous flagship store is a wonderful spot to find vases and decorative pieces that could become heirlooms. Best of, the SALE runs November 19-28, which means you can pick up many gifts for less. So excellent. (At right, Ruby Red vase)
7525 Beverly Blvd.
Ige: This sleek boutique is one of my favorite stores. Owner Helene has a fabulous creepy cool aesthetic, and fills her space with wonderful mobiles, pillows, and other decorative wares designed by her. She was one of the first storeowners to stock John Derian in L.A., and she also boasts curious and charming vintage pieces (the china animals are standouts) you just won't find anywhere else. Please, shop here!
7382 Beverly Blvd.
TableArt: Ok, I've previously stated that the goods at TableArt make the housewares section at Barney's look like sale day at Walmart, and I stand by that statement. This store has, by far, the nicest china, flatware, and table accessories I've ever seen, anywhere. Yet, amongst the outrageously priced Ted Mueling and Meissen vases, there are wonderful affordable items. Don't be intimidated. The staff is great, and the gift wrapping job (using fabric) is truly luxe.
7977 Melrose Ave.
OK: Have modernist sensibilities, or know someone who does? Then OK is the perfect place for your gift shopping. Iittala, Alessi, Dansk, and other fabulousness is available. Plus, every holiday season OK stocks wonderful smaller items, many of them both edgy and practical, which are often pre-wrapped and ready to give. This store makes shopping a snap. And, it now has a 3rd St. and a Silverlake location, for even more convenience. If you're feeling particularly flush, check out the jewelry selection. So pretty. (At right, cast iron hammer bottle opener/ice breaker)
8330 W. Third St.
1724 1/2 Silverlake Blvd.
Gary Gibson: Gibson's studio is where he works on his interior design business. It's also a wonderful, airy curiosity shop. Trying to locate a vintage pencil sharpener, old globes, vintage tools, or other collectibles for an interesting giftee? Just take a leisurely browse through Gibson's store. You're sure to find something (you'll probably find something for yourself, too; you've been warned).
7350 Beverly Blvd.
Inheritance: Another store along the same vintage lines as Gibson, but with a smaller sensibility. Mixing old and new items, Inheritance has a wonderful barware selection. There's also one of a kind items like brass ashtrays, sterling silver cufflinks and tuxedo sets, and lovely newer plates and vases. It's small, it's intimate, and it's reasonable.
8055 Beverly Blvd.
Potted: Head over to Atwater Village for one of the greatest outdoor decor stores anywhere. Yes, there's lots of pots. There's also a fabulous succulent selection, tons of garden accessories, quirky fountains, and the most wonderful women to help you (the Garden Tarts). They also make stepping stones to order, using vintage tile pieces (I actually have these in my yard, and can attest to their excellence). You can even design and create your own arrangement for the green thumb on your list. (At right, exclusive to Potted Circle Pot)
3158 Los Feliz Blvd.
Rolling Greens: Another temple of gardening fantasy. With both an enormous Culver City and smaller West Hollywood location, this store caters to all things plants. Culver City has an insane orchid selection, from which you may cherry pick and turn into an amazing one of a kind living arrangement. Plus, there's tons of pots and accessories, making this more than just a gardening store. Not as quirky as Potted, but perfect for the more formal giftee.
9528 Jefferson Blvd.
7505 Beverly Blvd.
Lost & Found: This store fits into many categories, mostly because it's about four stores in a Hollywood Row. Owner Jamie has impeccable taste and an eclectic sensibility, and her housewares include wonderful pillows, Missoni blankets and throws, interesting table accessories, and lovely art. Is it cheap? Well, no. But you might find things here you just won't find anywhere else.
6413 Yucca St.
Tortoise: Located on the ever hip stretch of Abbot Kinney, Tortoise is devoted mostly to Japanese items. Many of them are quite lovely and special; a handmade tea canister is particularly lovely, if a bit dear at $175. Not everything, however, is quite that costly. Tortoise makes perfect sense for classic asian devotees.
1342 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Next up: Accessories!