Best Of :: Shopping & Services
Your oil light (among others) has flashed for weeks, yet you fear patronizing any mechanic because of too many KNBC-TV Channel 4 exposés. Throw those fears away when visiting South Coast Auto Clinic, where affable owner Sal (like all good auto mechanics, he goes by only his first name 'cause it says it there on his blue work shirt) and his merry band of grease monkeys tell it like it is. We know of one case in which a friend asked Sal for a second opinion regarding an expensive procedure, and Sal said it was necessary but not for a good year—and promised a discount then. Water and soda are on the house, and they provide a free ride within a 5-mile radius. Now, if they could only install some Wi-Fi . . .
Opened in 1998, Games 4 U was one of the first places in South Orange County to buy and sell pre-owned video games. Now specializing in selling, buying and trading new, used and vintage video games and systems, Games 4 U holds the new distinction of being the place to go for anxious gamers who just can't wait to get their hands on what's new. This year, Wii enthusiasts purchased Super Smash Bros. Brawl four days earlier at Games 4 U than at the local GameStop, Target, or any other major game retailer. While there are no guarantees as to which games may be released early here, the avid fan should know to ask here first.
The walls and floors in this huge vintage showroom are lined with everything you ever saw on The Wonder Years and more. This isn't a cluttered, vintage clothing-only destination. Out of Vogue is where you go when you're looking for Dansk cheese boards (those wooden beauties!), an Evelyn Ackerman tapestry, a functioning TV that reminds you of your grandma, or a rotary dial "Ericophone." It's where fashion, décor and kitchenware blissfully collide to create a time warp like no other. Even if you don't go home with anything, this place is amazing for its sheer volume of vintage museum-quality art, electronics, furniture and, of course, dresses.
If your house craves the warm, rich aesthetics of Mexico, or if it just needs a pop of color and something really cool and unique to hang on the wall, two-story boutique Cantera is there to help. From floor to ceiling, everywhere you look is an explosion of sugar skulls, Frida Kahlo portraits, elaborate mirrors, decorative crosses and candy-colored handmade jewelry. This abode of creativity and originality is also the place to pick up amazing margarita glasses and barware.
Used furniture and clothing can be hip as long as previous owners haven't completely destroyed them and they aren't being sold by a sleazy dude with a comb-over. A good rule of thumb seems to be: If it's in good shape and it's more than 10 years old, label it "vintage" because the term "used" is so very last decade.
Well, nobody around the Greater Long Orange Beach County Area slangs vintage quite like the hipster employees at the Vintage Collective on Fourth Street (a.k.a. retro row) in Long Beach. Their shop is a 4,000-square-foot warehouse of midcentury modern and Eames-era furniture, clothing and appliances. Much like a department store of the '60s would have looked, except this one smells of age (in a good way!). The items are a bit overpriced but not unreasonable—and you'll be surrounded by hipness. The vintage kind, not the used kind.
There are only two reasons to wake up before 8 a.m. on a Sunday: church or bargain hunting. If your aspirations lean toward the latter, try heading to the mecca of all flea markets. It's held on the third Sunday of every month and hosts more than 800 dealers hawking about half a million antiques across a sprawling 20 acres. What makes the Antique and Collectible Market tops is that it mostly deals in furniture, trinkets and books rather than stands upon stands of used clothing. Yawn. If we wanted used clothes, we'd head to the Salvation Army.