Best Of :: Shopping & Services
Now that Anaheim's legendary Book Baron is closed and Acres of Books in Long Beach is in the death throes of its months-long closing sale, the mantle of the county's best used bookstore falls upon the Bookman empire. The mothership still occupies three units in an Orange strip mall, still devotes a special section to communism, and still has almost all of its massive inventory online and on the bookshelves. A little bit more ramshackle is the smaller Huntington Beach location, which strangely devotes the front of the store to bad local art and whose book selection skews toward the more obscure (old Mickey Mouse comic-book collections, Orange County history pamphlets and a bunch of presidential biographies). However, its website—while better-looking than the original's—doesn't always tell you all the books in the boxes and piles. And it allows you to trade in books for full store credit, unlike those half-only bastards in Orange. Then again, it's the latter place where you can buy a complete, eight-volume, 1840 edition of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire for only $97!
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.