Best Of :: Shopping & Services
Shopping for clothes can be a release or a chore, depending on who you ask. Very rarely is it called an adventure. But that's exactly what stepping into Swellegant Vintage feels like. There's a thrill that comes with sifting through the overflowing racks that clutter the teal-walled space on Newport Boulevard—each item handpicked by owner Nicole Bernstein tells a story, from the bold, Mad Men-esque blouses to the poofy-sleeved prom dresses to the 1950s bullet bras to a small selection of vintage couture (oh, hello, original Pucci!). For guys, there's just as much to get amped over—Hefner-style smoking jackets, band tees and grunge flannels galore. It's the antithesis of buying sweaters in bulk at Gap.
Getting laser hair removal can be several things: painful, embarrassing, uncertain. But Esthetic RX makes sure a visit to its salon for a zap session is none of these. Knowledgeable and friendly receptionists greet all prospective clients, and they'll explain what to expect during the procedure, typical results and the different services offered—all before you make your first appointment. The professionalism doesn't end on the phone. Registered Nurse Carolyn O'Connell walks you through everything before starting treatment. She makes sure you are as comfortable as possible by gently numbing the area before beginning, stopping periodically to ask how you are feeling. And she's a great conversationalist. Oh, and it's walking distance from the beach, so when you're all done, you can show off your furless bikini body with pride.
I walked the road by the sea. I walked past posters of oversized humans glued to windows and glowing surf ads that sold me happiness. I was lost in half-naked girls, surfers, kooks and tourists that belied my path to truth. Why was I so lost? I could have any surf product I wanted. Any type of board, hat, shirt, watch, towel, sandal, bottle opener, sticker—but none of this made me feel good. Nothing seemed real. There was no struggle. No reflection of the paddle through 10-foot beach break for that one big drop. No two-wave hold downs that reminded me I wanted to live—to surf.
Just press a button. I am a surfer like you. This was not real. So I got up. Leaving behind the bright lights and mouths to kiss but never found love. And as I walked further down the road by the sea, the night became quiet, and I soon fell to slumber. When I awoke, it seemed as though I were in a dream. It was a frog and a house? It was cozy inside—filled with the smell of sand and wax. There were things from the sea stuck to the wall and surf stuff crowded the room as though a group of good friends. The guy behind the counter talked of surfing Pipeline yesterday. This was it. This was real. Real surfers who didn't have everything I wanted, but the one thing I needed: truth.
Don't be fazed by the tightness of the space in this hole-in-the-wall (tucked behind a barbershop and adjacent to Wild Goose Tavern and an all-Hawaiian-shirt store) or the mountains of vinyl LPs that cascade to your feet because there's gold in them thar hills; while the standard A-to-Z rock albums and new releases abound, a hefty collection of rare and obscure punk, hip-hop, world and funk music await your discovery, so even the snobbiest audiophile would find something here to covet. Prices are fair, since many of the records are new presses, but if you're collecting on a budget, there's always the sale section, where records go for $3 and up. And if you're of the digital persuasion, the wall of CDs is fit for your perusal, as is the section of DVDs and old-school cassettes.
In an age when seemingly everyone buys games online, this independently owned shop is an oasis for gamers. Tucked next to an outpost of L&L Hawaiian BBQ, owner Lawrence MacSelwiney and his knowledgeable staff take customers through purchasing decisions, making sure they get the game they'll enjoy most, not just what's clogging the shelves. Looking for retro gems? Childhood faves to play on your classic system? Come on down; they're probably here. Your vintage Sega acting up? Bring it in for a speedy repair! These geeks won't lead you down the wrong path.
Black barbershops in Orange County are a rare find, and that's part of the reason why A-Unique Barbershop in Anaheim is so aptly named. The business has been going strong for 15 years, providing fades, lineups, tapers, texturizers and skilled specialty cuts. Owner Pierre Dotson, whose love for the craft is illustrated by the clipper tattoos on his forearm, and his wise-cracking barbers will have you feeling like a whole new person by the time they apply the finishing touches to your head of hair. All the while, sports, life, ladies and music are fair game for lively discussion whether you're in the barber chair or waiting your turn. A-Unique is more than just haircuts and conversations, though. It's about community and making everybody feel at home. Become a regular, and check in with the barbers about the next in-house domino tournament or hone your rhymes as the mic gets passed around. Better yet, show your love for this infernal rag by getting the Weekly's logo etched into your hair? A-Unique can do that, too, because they got it like that!