Shopping & Services

  • Best Way to Get a Pet

    National Cat Protection Society

    Cats are the perfect pet. You leave them alone; they leave you alone. Unless they are hungry, in which case, yours will glide between your ankles, purring that gentle "Feed me now or I'll swallow your breath as you sleep" type of purr. But a pet store? A neighbor's litter? That's promoting overpopulation, buddy. Instead, adopt the perfect pet relinquished… More >>
  • Best Thrift Store

    The Assistance League of Newport-Mesa

    Have you ever gotten the feeling as you walk into a thrift store that the value implied by the sale of secondhand products just isn't there? Have you ever spent $17 on a pre-owned printed T-shirt? If yes, you got hosed, and the fat-cat store owner is chuckling smugly. But hark, on the horizon, striding atop a white horse, comes… More >>
  • Best Vintage Store

    Stray Cat Vintage & Costumes

    You know the feeling of finding something you never knew you wanted, but once you see it, you realize you can't live without it? Stray Cat Vintage & Costumes is full of knickknacks like that. It's a regular-sized store in downtown Fullerton filled with everything from bootleg records to jewelry, wigs, Santa Claus outfits, stickers and DVDs. Of course, there's… More >>
  • Lil Devils Boutique

    Best Satanic-Toddler Outfitter

    Lil Devils Boutique

    Despite the untimely death of well-loved owner Pete Toulios earlier this year, one of Long Beach's favorite boutiques remains open for business. If you're looking for rock & roll gear for your 3-year-old—take your pick from the Sublime, Kiss and Grateful Dead onesies (these will set you back around $20 or so) or the Bob Marley "One Love" T-shirts (also… More >>
  • Best Resale-Clothing Store

    Dee Lux

    Staffers at Dee Lux are choosy about which used designer threads they buy. They get their denim from such labels as Hudson Jeans, Seven for All Mankind and J Brand, and they specialize in straight- to skinny-leg jeans in dark and light washes, distressed, and work-wear trousers. Discerning shoppers know they're getting high style in the $20 to $80 price… More >>
  • Best Place to Prepare for the Collapse of Society

    All American Military Surplus

    All too often, when looking through stores claiming to sell genuine surplus items, today's military-minded consumer is met with disorganized dusty shelves featuring a few packages of rancid MREs and a cardboard box of mismatched World War II leggings. Worse yet is walking into a store claiming to sell military surplus goods and being greeted by racks of pristine flannel… More >>
  • Best Used-Book Store


    What do you look for in a used bookstore? Clean, well-dusted books; a literate staff; and a humongous, well-organized selection? Bookman fulfills all those requirements, and it buys books you're done with and want to share with the world. If you want to go old-school and browse through the single-story, midcentury building that houses more than 8,000 square feet of… More >>
  • Best Comic-Book Store

    Comics Toons & Toys

    This 22-year-old comics shop has been tucked in its current location, a Tustin strip mall just over the Santa Ana city line, for the past 16 years. That long a stint in the comics biz means Comics Toons & Toys has found some kind of magic formula for selling all manner of illustrated goodness that's sweeter than Betty, more tempting… More >>
  • Best Book Store for Closeted Sci-Fi Geeks

    Mathom House Books

    We assume this strip-mall book nook comes stocked with all the AP Lit classics you need, but that's not what brings you back to Mathom. Rather, it's for the store's wealth of paperbacks from the golden age of popular reading that was the '80s and '90s. The best part: A side room stocked solely with fantasy and sci-fi titles from… More >>
  • Best Furuhonya

    Book Off

    If you're a local Japanophile, you've probably been to Book Off. This little slice of California strip mall (oddly enough, it looks like a supermarket) feels like heaven. The store sells used English- and Japanese-language books (from manga to Sarah Palin's biography), CDs, reference items and magazines—and buys books and music, as well. Cheap, cultural and close to the Japanese… More >>
  • Best Record/CD Store

    Pepperland Music

    For more than 20 years, Pepperland Music has specialized in Beatles albums and related merchandise. As the Fab Four have morphed from radio stars to Rock Band gods, some display shelves have a museum-exhibit feel to them. Serious collectors should know their pockets had better be filled—or, better yet, their charge cards had better have mucho room—if they want to… More >>
  • Best Selection of .45s

    Fowler Gun Room

    The final scene in Saving Private Ryan can be a bit misleading. As the intrepid Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) bleeds out near a French canal and a German Tiger tank bears down on him, he reaches for the only weapon at his disposal, his trusty M1911 .45-caliber pistol. As he fires at the mechanized behemoth, the handgun looks like a… More >>
  • Best Flea Market

    The Groves Antique Market

    We'll spell out all the reasons this flea market rocks: It's centrally located and easily accessible, you can bring your dog, and admission and parking are free. Set up in the parking lot of Irvine Valley College the first Sunday of every month, this outdoor antique swap meet features the usual selection of kitschy bric-a-brac (costume jewelry, vintage artwork) and… More >>
  • Best Prop Shop for 1960s Period Pieces

    The Vintage Collective

    If you're titillated by the idea of floral-print polyester swimwear or doughnut-shaped rotary phones in shades of avocado green and burnt sienna, then the Vintage Collective has the goods to fulfill your wildest era obsessions. This small-scale antiques mall is home to dozens of consignment sellers, each with its own exquisite taste and seemingly endless supply of impeccably preserved odds… More >>
  • Best Place to Please Stay Off the Ottomans

    Just Like the Model

    Because this 24,000 square-foot, high-ceilinged warehouse of furniture and housewares is a clearinghouse for the stuff builders use to stage model homes, you can never be sure exactly what you're going to see in terms of style—could be midcentury-ish, Art Deco-esque, vaguely Asian, country kitsch, or totally grandma. But that's what makes each trip to Just Like the Model an… More >>
  • Best Bachelor-Pad-Supply Store

    Orange County Games

    Like polio, American arcades were once a prolific fact of life and the scourge of parents everywhere. Since these quarter repositories have gone the way of the buffalo, the arcade-style video game has obtained the glossy veneer of nostalgia and become highly desirable to rabid collectors in the process. For those Gen-Xers whose pockets once jangled with quarters but now… More >>
  • Best Video-Game Store

    PTR Games

    Just when you thought all hope was lost for video-game stores, as you watched each of your neighborhood shops get bought by GameStop or EBGames, this little strip-mall, punk-rock shop, all sleek and black and cavelike inside, hooked its joystick at the man and said, "ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US." PTR Games was a Play N' Trade for… More >>
  • Nickel! Nickel!

    Best Place to Knock the Rust Off Your Defender Game

    Nickel! Nickel!

    The superlative punctuation is its own, but it deserves it. For an entrance fee of $1.95, a player gets access to 7,000 square feet of pure gaming joy. (Bring 10 or more people with you, and the price gets zapped down to $1.25 per person. That's at least a few rounds of air hockey.) Pizza, prizes and Pac-Man: pretty much… More >>
  • Best Hardware Store

    Bay Hardware

    Among the stuccoed corporate-chain home-improvement monoliths—you know, the ones that suck up vast stretches of acreage just for parked cars—there are still a few homegrown, family-manned (and -womanned) hardware stores dotting the OC landscape. Bay Hardware, owned by David and Cynthia Brunjes and run by their peppy, beach-blond daughter Diana, shines like a sheet of aluminum siding in the sun,… More >>
  • Best Magic Store In the Back of a Bowling Alley

    Magic Galore and More

    Why would there be a magic shop in the back of a bowling alley? You're going to have to ask Ken Sands, the man who owns Magic Galore and More. To do so, you'll have to step into Westminster Lanes and turn right. Keep passing bowling lanes until you reach a small hallway. Turn right again. At the end of… More >>
  • Lenny Copp

    Best Mechanic

    Lenny Copp

    It's not quite accurate to call Lenny Copp a mechanic, even though he has spent much of his life under the hood. He has worked with plenty of mechanics over the years as owner of West Coast Classic Restoration, a world-renowned VW-restoration garage that has lured celebrities such as Jerry Seinfeld to Fullerton and made Copp quite a celebrity in… More >>
  • Best Bike Shop

    Banning's Bikes

    There are larger and more-established bike shops, but few demonstrate a stronger commitment to quality and customer service than Banning's Bikes, which opened in 2006. Rather than selling a buttload of bikes from one or two major brands, Banning's offers a highly selective inventory from many manufacturers. Sure, you can roll in your old beater for the most minor adjustment,… More >>
  • Best Surf Shop

    The Frog House

    Since 1962, this dinky shop on the grubby (in a good way) far-west side of Newport Beach has been hawking surfboards, wetsuits and clothing. It was one of the first places anywhere to get a wetsuit after whoever invented wetsuits invented wetsuits. It's not unusual to be plowing though a row of suits to see if one from that first… More >>
  • The Rinks Westminster Ice

    Best Skate Shop

    The Rinks Westminster Ice

    This goliath ice rink just east of the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Depot is a mecca for aspiring hockey players and figure skaters. And for the more adventuresome, there are weekly curling classes and pickup games. The rink, which opened in 2001, is a sister facility to Anaheim Ice, which is the practice rink for the Anaheim Ducks. (In fact,… More >>
  • Best Trend

    Medical Marijuana

    Time was, you had to know a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy, and then you had to waste all weekend hanging out with people you didn't really like just to score a bag of weed. Now, it's legal—with a prescription, of course—and all you have to do is walk to your local mini-mall, hit the dispensary… More >>
  • Best Mall

    Fashion Island

    If you've got to go to a mall in Orange County, make it an Orange County mall. One with dogs in strollers and kids on leashes. One that's outdoors and boasts an ocean view. One at which high-priced apparel stores are outnumbered only by decorative, water-sucking fountains and koi ponds. One that's perched so prominently on the bourgeoisie cutting edge… More >>
  • Best Health-Food Store

    Wholesome Choice

    A market that specializes in global cuisine, Wholesome Choice has an incredible selection of fresh produce delivered daily (Chinese okra? Check. Loquats? Check), dried fruits and nuts (it boasts one of the largest selections in Orange County), and all those oddball items you just can't find anywhere else. The Irvine location may always be bustling (blame the kiosk at the… More >>
  • Best Liquor Store

    Hi-Time Wine Cellars

    It's really, really hard to not give this award to Hi-Time, so this year, we decided, why fight it? There's just no competing with this family-owned behemoth of a liquor store in Costa Mesa. Its 24,000 square feet of exotic liquors, rare alcohol, walk-in humidifiers and beer refrigerators, plus a 3,000-square-foot underground maze of a wine cellar makes this the… More >>
  • Best Collection of Virgins

    We Olive

    Had you going there for a second, didn't we? Sorry, pervs: As the store's name suggests, we're talking olive oils here. This is the ultimate destination for all things olea europaea, from the fruits themselves to tapenades, bottled oils and even bath soap. One entire wall consists of shelves stacked with olive oils, including unadorned extra-virgin imported directly from Italy,… More >>
  • Best Sex Shop

    The Rubber Tree

    The best part about going to this gender-friendly sex shop? The knowledgeable staff, who are up to speed on what kind of batteries each toy needs and what lube ingredients are potentially cancer-forming, who will teach you how to use the Silicone Power Pump Penis Enlargement ($39.95) if you need the info, and who will leave you alone if you… More >>
  • Classic Tattoo Parlor

    Best Tattoo Parlor

    Classic Tattoo Parlor

    Sure, there are lots of tattoo shops in Orange County. But for a beautiful work of body art, Classic Tattoo is tops. Inviting and timeless, the old-school parlor dazzles with intricate flash and vintage cigarettes, pinball and fortune-telling machines. A beautiful glass case encloses period photographs and tattoo needles. On the shop walls hang colorful American- and Asian-inspired designs by… More >>
  • Best Place to Get a Haircut to Match Your Flaming-Dice Tattoo

    Hawleywood's Barber Shop

    Really, who's to say that just because a barber has face tattoos and discusses the finer points of pinstriping, he can't spend an hour providing the perfect haircut? At Hawleywood's, a man can stroll into the parlor, slump down in one of the vintage chairs (with built-in ashtrays) in a room ringed by vintage car-club plaques, and listen to pedal-steel… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Pierced

    Kari Barba's Outer Limits Tattoo and Body Piercing

    Barba and her entourage of eccentric technicians have been happily perforating members of the SoCal community for more than 27 years. Although a fourth branch recently sprung up in downtown Long Beach, the Outer Limits family still remains relatively intimate, with many loyal artists choosing to remain for decades at a time. From the elegant brushstrokes of Yvonne La's calligraphy… More >>
  • Best Hair Salon

    Sweet 1017

    Seal Beach's Sweet 1017 is laid-back luxury. The vibe is very spa-like, with crisp, white décor and a heavy emphasis on relaxation; everything—from the cute dressing rooms to the ottomans to prop your feet on while under the dryer—is designed to melt away stress. It's gorgeous, impeccably clean and highly indulgent. Want a glass of wine with your color? Sure!… More >>
  • Best Spa

    Laguna Canyon Spa

    There isn't a lack of spas in Laguna Beach, but unlike other ritzy, full-service spots, Laguna Canyon Spa has a homey, earthy vibe that makes clients feel utterly relaxed and comfortable. With its wooden floors, incense and tea, it makes you feel like you're closer to Bali than Buena Park. Without the uppity air or crowds of walk-in clients—or wildly… More >>
  • Best Manicure/Pedicure

    The Finest Nails

    This nail salon is pretty standard: strip-mall location, minimal décor, courteous staff, walk-ins easily accommodated, budget-friendly prices. But you're there for Karen; she's an amazing nail technician who's worth the trip. She's meticulous and gentle, and if your polish looks wonky (some polishes can be streaky), she won't stop applying/sculpting/detailing until it's perfect, which is rare for a $10 manicure—and… More >>
  • Best Laser Hair Removal


    One of the greatest scientific beauty developments of the past century, laser hair removal is a girl's secret best friend. But where to go brings up a bit of a quandary. Salons offering the service are often either ridiculously expensive or totally scuzzy. So where's a furry gal to go? DermFx has the perfect combination of style and price. The… More >>