What to shop in Los Angeles, USA
Los Angeles is well-known for its diverse and unique shopping traditions and destinations. Shopping malls will dominate your shopping trip as they are nearly inescapable in many of your destinations. For example, the Hollywood & Highland mall is a popular meeting point for those gazing at the Walk of Fame and Mann’s Chinese Theater. Other significant malls frequented by tourists are the Grove (next to the Farmers’ Market), Westfield Century City, Westside Pavilion, and the Beverly Center, which is quite unlike other shopping malls as it is multilevel with a nice view of Los Angeles from its food court patio.
Because Los Angeles has traditionally lacked a significant public square, the city funnels its commercial life onto its streets. Among the most popular street is Larchmont Blvd. which caters to the wealthy elite of Hancock Park with one-of-a-kind boutiques. Melrose Avenue, especially in the West Hollywood portion, one-ups Larchmont Blvd. with celebrity presence.
Broadway in Downtown will take you out of the comforts of manicured shopping centers and drop you into its chaos. It features affordable merchandise geared towards the region’s millions of working-class Latinos, meaning that forty dollars would probably get you a brand new wardrobe. You will also find pirated DVD’s and CD’s. You can find a lot of brand name merchandise at discounted prices. Broadway once was the city’s premier boulevard; look up above the gritty flea markets and you will see the opulent theaters that defined luxury in early 20th-century Los Angeles.
For a similar experience in a less-polished, but also livelier environment, try Alvarado Street near Wilshire Boulevard and 6th Street. This district gives an insight to how most of working-class Los Angeles shops. Big deals can be found on a wide range of counterfeit goods, but don’t stay too long after dark when the neighborhood gets sketchy. Make sure to check out the art deco buildings that exist in between the makeshift warehouses (malls), as well as the Alvarado Terrace Park, surrounded by early century mansions.
The major department stores in the Southland are Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, JCPenney, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sears, and Kohls. Macy’s is by far the most ubiquitous (due to the 2006 merger with the May Company) and can be found at virtually every mall, plus it also has a handful of stand-alone stores.
Notably, Los Angeles has never developed a giant ten-story-tall regional flagship department store like those found in other large cities around the world. This can be very frustrating. It means you may have to visit stores at several malls to survey the same amount of merchandise one would be able to see all at once in a flagship department store. The closest equivalent in the Southland to a Macy’s flagship store is the three-store Macy’s complex at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa (in Orange County), which is over an hour’s drive away from Los Angeles. But even Macy’s South Coast Plaza is still relatively small compared to the huge two-store Macy’s West flagship in San Francisco.
Groceries and other basics
7-Eleven convenience stores are found every few blocks and are always open 24-7, but have limited selection and high prices. Walgreen’s, CVS, and Rite-Aid are three of the major pharmacy chains operating in Los Angeles and offer a wider selection than many convenience stores, but at the same high prices. The major supermarket chains are Ralphs (owned by Kroger), Pavilions and Vons (both owned by Safeway), and Albertsons (owned by Supervalu). Ralphs and Vons both have a few stores open 24-7. They are useful for picking up supplies like drinks and snacks.
Target, the largest big box retailer, has stores in Westwood, West Hollywood, Beverly Grove, Baldwin Hills and Downtown L.A., some are open till 12 A.M., others close at 11 P.M.
The 99 Cents Only Stores chain offers a variety of products at low prices. Though the store’s prices are no longer capped at 99 cents. Stores often close at 10 p.m.
Downtown is the destination for some focused retail therapy. Want flowers? Why there’s a Flower District in Downtown! Jewelry? Fashion? Seafood? Toys? Yep, there are entire districts in Downtown dedicated to these particular products. You can buy art in Gallery Row up and down Main Street or see artists at work in the Artist District. They are located mostly just east of the towering Financial District. Beware though as they exist along with the notorious Skid Row.
No matter what music you’re into, Los Angeles will feature artists to your taste. Visit the Rock Venues on Sunset Blvd. Jazz Clubs in Hollywood. The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown. etc. Los Angeles has an abundance of records stores scattered around the area. Also, though vinyl has disappeared from the shelves of most regular record stores, there are still plenty of stores that sell new and used vinyl. Amoeba Music in Hollywood is without a doubt the best in the city and possibly one of the best in the entire country.