Best Of :: Shopping & Services
In this dire age of freeloading downloaders, crap major-label product (okay, some things never change) and clueless RIAA machinations (suing potential customers = bad policy, generally speaking), massive respect must go to any independent record shop that's still in business. Since 2003, about 2,700 music emporia have become defunct. So it is especially heartening to visit Fingerprints, which seems to be thriving in its hip little corner of Long Beach's Belmont Shore district. Selling both new and used vinyl and CDs, as well as books, mags, band T-shirts, collectible figurines and other cool accouterments of the music-freak lifestyle, Fingerprints caters to folks with deep, exceptional taste (to thank them, it often holds in-store concerts). This shop is really tailored for folks who like to get their fingers dusty riffling through moldy vinyl, people who consider WaxPoetics their bible, DJs who have gigs in small venues, obsessives who take notes while they read music blogs. Fingerprints stocks a wide range of genres, and its staff seems to know a lot more than most record-store clerks (stellar DJ/musicians such as Elvin "Nobody" Estrela and Dennis Owens work there). You can satisfy your indie-rock fix, of course, but Fingerprints will also attend to your more esoteric needs, like vintage funk and soul, psychedelia, dub, reggae, jazz, experimental, electronic, and underground hip-hop. Tons of interesting releases from tiny indie labels crowd Fingerprints' shelves. It's a bit overwhelming to spend an afternoon browsing there, but ultimately rewarding for your music collection and education. When the White Stripes wanted to open their own temporary, SoCal-based record store to hype the release of the new Icky Thump album in July, Fingerprints received the call to set up and operate the makeshift establishment in the old Tower Records Sunset location. That's respect, brothers and sisters.
Do yourself and your car a favor and say no to the mechanical drive-in car wash at the gas station. Sitting in line doesn't do much for sanity, and the rotating buffers will almost always scratch up your ride. The hand car wash is definitely the place to go for quality, and the ultimate hand wash experience can be found at Checkered Flag Hand Car Wash. The inside-out treatment on your car runs $13.99 and lasts around 10 minutes. Spend that time inside the lounge area, where free fancy-pants coffee (French vanilla cappuccinos, espressos, mochaccinos and more) or hot chocolate is available, as is free Internet access.
Enter Red Cloud's walk-in humidor, perpetually set at a balmy 70-percent humidity, and your pores will open and inhale the earthen nuance. In other words, you'll soon smell like a stogie. But that's not a bad thing, especially if you're a fan of $60 Partagas 160s or the Fuente Fuente OpusX, which are only occasionally available and sell for around $30 a pop. If you don't know a Cohiba from a coat hanger, don't worry: Red Cloud's employees are knowledgeable and will recommend the best cigar for your lack of taste and wallet-to-fat ratio. If you're a heavy hitter, consider a year's membership ($250) to the cigar lounge. There you can puff freely, sip scotch, and indulge in a variety of leisure activities such as cards, darts, pool, or a ridiculously oversized game of chess.
The 99 Cents Only chain may have outlets around OC, but the best sits right next to OC Weekly Headquarters on Main Street in downtown Santa Ana. The long lines that greet the counter clerks daily (even at noon, when folks should be having lunch) stand as testament to the small fact that the locals know it, too. The massive store carries everything from milk to condoms to "LA's Totally Awesome All Purpose Cleaner." Fresh fruit, batteries, massive rolls of toilet paperyou name it. Even, bizarrely enough, pregnancy tests.
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.
If you can get past the strange medieval architecture that characterizes the Old World Village shopping center in Huntington Beach, you're in for an unusual treat at the Living Temple, where you can munch on gogi berries or raw cacao while thumbing through the eclectic book and DVD collection maintained by owner and health guru Robin Arthur Jones. He's usually there to answer any and all questions, and he also hosts movie nights and monthly raw-foods festivals.