The General Store

Trading posts, purveyors of fine goods & services, skilled tradesfolk, trinkets, gewgaws & sundries

Best Place to Soil Yourself
The Plant Stand
2972 Century Place, Ste. A, Costa Mesa
(714) 966-0797
www.plant-stand.com
Located around the corner from the Camp, the Plant Stand blends in with the crowd of other bland, concrete structures on a street of mainly office buildings and industrial warehouses . . . but don't let that fool you. Once inside, you'll discover that the huuuuge warehouse is full of indoor and outdoor nurseries housing thousands of different types of plants—tropical, succulents, flowering plants, ficus, indoor palms, orchids and even plumeria!—and all for you to choose from at more than reasonable prices. Even if you're not one for greenery, it's just fun to wander the many large rooms inside the Plant Stand full of things that you've probably never seen before. The Plant Stand actually supplies many of the major home-improvement stores (I've seen their clay pots at the Home Depot), but now everything is provided for you in one convenient location. Plants are always an easy, surefire way to spruce up the house and yard—that is, if you can manage to keep them alive.

Illustration by Kyle T. Webster.
Illustration by Kyle T. Webster.
Illustration by Kyle T. Webster.
Illustration by Kyle T. Webster.

Best Place to Waste Six Hours and Possibly Sprout a Pimple
Cyber Cafe Express
440 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa
(714) 668-8888
The Cyber Cafe Express doesn't actually have coffee, but it does serve up a huge bank of gaming computers, all of them with high-speed connections and loaded with the hottest, geekiest video games on the market. Bring some friends, then gun them down in the Star Wars universe or team up for some hot wizard-on-orc action in World of Warcraft. If you believe simulated fictional war on other planets or casting spells on goblins is the unofficial national pastime of undersexed, acne-scarred teens, you can simply hang out and balance your checkbook, or whatever other boring crap serious people do on-line. Membership is free, and computer time costs only $2 per hour ($5 per hour for nonmembers).

Best Pawnshop
Uncle Bob's Pawnshop
10596 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove
(714) 636-6741
There's an old saying that goes, "If it ain't been in a pawn shop, it can't play the blues." If a horn or a guitar is in a pawn shop, that instrument has likely followed one of two paths: It was either purchased for a child who simply grew tired of the pursuit and gave it up, or it once belonged to a broke, starving, junkie musician whose heart has been breaking ever since he had to pawn his only love. That, or everything in there was stolen. Any way it got there, a pawnshop is a great way to pick up something on the cheap, and why not keep it in the family? Go to Uncle Bob's Pawnshop, and peruse the garden of sadness and great deals. That it's in a shabby part of town and looks shabby just adds to its charm.

Best Guy-Friendly Mall
The Westminster Mall
1025 Westminster Mall, Westminster
(714) 898-2558
Let's face it, men, most modern-day malls are not for you. If they have stores specializing in anything other than female fashion, it tends toward the blah, metrosexual style. Remember how awesome malls used to be, when you could buy videos (what a concept, huh?) and cool man-stuff ranging from an obscenely shaped beer mug to a talking Freddy Krueger action figure? Well, good news: The Westminster Mall is still cool like that. Spencer Gifts, Suncoast Movies and K-B Toys may have closed down most of their locations elsewhere, but they're still alive and well here. By the time you read this, a massive two-story Target will be open for business, and you can slake your thirst with an old-fashioned Orange Julius! That's not to say there's nothing for the ladies. The clothing stores so popular at other malls exist here, but just not to the exclusion of everything else. And any food court that has both a Wendy's and a gourmet gelato stand is good for the whole family. Need a tall cold beer? There's an Outback Steakhouse just outside with Foster's on tap. Shopping trips need no longer be feared, dudes.

Best Way to Make Your Car's Exhaust Smell Like Onion Rings
Convert to bio-diesel at Beach Benz
7492 Slater Ave., Huntington Beach
(866) 440-4122 or (714) 842-9816
Stewart's is practically the last bastion of surf wax and other assorted surfing needs in Orange County. Owner Bill Stewart has been shaping and selling boards in Orange County for decades. His designs have not only had a wide influence in the world of all surfboard construction, but they have also basically defined the industry standard in longboard design. Go down to the water in south OC, specifically near San Onofre, and you will see a Stewart longboard float by before you have a chance to get your hair wet. In the lower section of the store (a former clay factory), you'll find surfboards new and used, short, long and fun, but if you still can't find one the perfect one for you, Stewart's will design one for you. The price for a good, 10-foot Stewart isn't cheap, but you'll own one of the best surfboards on the planet. Plus, the hot girls who work there will occasionally give away free surf wax. The best things in life really are free.

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