Shopping & Services

  • Best Trend

    Nostalgia for the '90s

    Hope you held onto those Donnie Wahlberg posters: Another decade from the past has become all cool and retro, and this time, it's the 1990s (la vida loca?). Eighties nostalgia is so 10 years ago. It seems like everyone has jumped in on the craze. MTV brought back Beavis and Butt-head and—get this—music videos. The Backstreet Boys and New Kids… More >>
  • Best Mall

    South Coast Plaza

    Sometimes, you just have to go with the obvious. If you're gonna go to the mall, you might as well go to the mall, the holy grail of Orange County consumerism, the reason why the words "Costa Mesa" sit beside Beverly Hills, Paris and Milan in designer ads in glossy magazines. It's a place where a concierge will check your… More >>
  • Best Vintage Store

    Captain's Helm

    Located in a former auto garage, the Captain's Helm exudes hipster chic, yet it skews more thrift store than vintage store. There's a nice selection of graphic tees and polo shirts, some with interesting graphics such as Reagan's face twisted in all sorts of grotesque contortions accompanied by nasty, lovable captions; these run anywhere from $8 to $12. And don't… More >>
  • Best Green Department Store

    Seed People's Market

    This place offers nearly all the creature comforts the eco-conscious soul could desire, except for organic produce. Like a subspace passage to Portland, Seed People's Market touts "products with a purpose" and carries countless handmade and recycled items arranged artfully about the shop on whimsical art-installation-like displays. The result resembles a miniature Patchwork Festival operating seven days a week. You'd… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Something Cute (Though Completely Unnecessary)

    tpt home

    In the SoCo Corner off Interstate 405 is the home-decorating behemoth known simply as tpt home, pleasing shoppers and infuriating the grammar police. The year-old shop is the size of a giant warehouse—one entire wing is dedicated to fake flowers and faux topiary (look no further to satisfy those artificial-Christmas-tree needs). Calling itself "Orange County's destination for inspired home décor,"… More >>
  • Best Antique Shop

    Grandma Darlings Antique Mall

    This mall houses about 80 different booths and rented spaces of antiques ranging from vintage clothing and furniture to kitchenware and estate jewelry. If you're looking for an oddball collector's item from early last century, this is a fantastic place to start. There are gorgeous-but-very-un-PC fur coats, sunglasses, tin signs, furniture—and damn, that's a lot of Barbie dolls. The quality… More >>
  • Best Place to Find Modern Kitsch


    Call it hoarding with style. Shoppers at Otto tend to need things, lots and lots of things. They can’t help it. The things at this cozy art-and-design promised land in downtown Fullerton are unique, inspiring and just plain rad. Take, for instance, the designer-coveted George Nelson bubble lamps and Ole Flensted mobiles dripping from the ceiling, or the pop surrealist… More >>
  • Best Place to Score Space-Saving Household Items for Your Tiny-Ass Dorm Room or Bachelor Suite

    Kitchen Land

    If you've ever resided in a college dorm, you know how it feels to live in a space so small you can't undress two at a time without worrying about making accidental ass-to-ass contact. If you just so happen to have also set foot in an apartment in East Asia, you know the experience is not much different. However, if… More >>
  • Best Used-Book Store

    {open} Books

    With its concrete floors and 2-inch-by-4-inch latticed ceiling, {open} Books has the lofty urban charm of its vinyl-store neighbor Fingerprints, as well as a comparable hipness quotient. The front foyer hosts a vintage Remington typewriter and vintage miniature TV sets, and a fixed-gear bicycle hangs from the rafters. We'll forgive the store the last one, reminding ourselves of its cool… More >>
  • Best Used-Camera Store

    Fullerton Cameras

    Sometimes, there's a real upside to the march of technology having nothing to do with the advancements themselves. Take the evolution of cameras. With digital now the reigning mode of photographic arts, there's a wealth of old-time cameras available for a good price. And the images they produce are every bit as good, if not better, than what digital offers.… More >>
  • Best Mom-and-Pop Guitar Shop

    Rockit Music

    The problem with shopping at a big-box music-instrument retailer happens when, within three minutes of grabbing your dream axe from the wall display and strumming a few licks, you're pounced on by a salivating floorman who immediately refers to you as "bro." As in "I see you got your eye on that axe, bro." The beauty of shopping at a… More >>
  • Best Ukulele Store

    Island Bazaar

    On the outside, it's a nondescript, cream-colored industrial-park suite. On the inside: a uke-topia, complete with bamboo stalks and fake plants. More ukuleles than you ever knew existed line the walls of this Hawaiian-themed shop. Even ukulele experts would be hard-pressed to name an existing uke-related item the store doesn't carry. Ukulele books? Check. Cases? Check. Note cards, Hawaiian leis… More >>
  • Best Video-Game Store


    It's a shame that there are fewer and fewer stores like Gameplay. It's the perfect example of what a great video-game store is about—a huge supply of old and new games, knowledgeable employees who love their work, and great prices. Located next to a nail salon in a Long Beach strip mall, Gameplay is a gaming geek's vision of what… More >>
  • Best Comic-Book Store

    Alakazam! Comics

    You better know your Justice League from your League of Extraordinary Gentlemen if you're a comic-book store opening near a university, and that's exactly what Marco Davanzo did when opening Alakazam! across the street from UC Irvine, his alma mater and a school that probably has more geeks per capita than any college in the country—outside of Caltech, that is.… More >>
  • Best Hardware Store

    Woodward's Ace Hardware

    Don't get misled by the name: Woodward's has an affiliation with the hardware mega-chain, but the sprawling Santa Ana shop is firmly under the control of Bill Woodward, who has run the store for decades. In addition to stocking the usual things hardware stores stock—doors, plants, soil, paint and the like—it also offers items specific to the tract homes in… More >>
  • Best Jeweler

    Liberty Diamonds

    It's not often you find a jeweler who cares more about the customers than making the next big sale. Troy Lob, vice president of Liberty Diamonds in Irvine, runs the business with his father and places his focus on maintaining relationships with his customers. He knows the power of referrals and has the ability to make everyone who enters his… More >>
  • Best Flea Market

    Long Beach Outdoor Antique and Collectible Market at Veterans Stadium

    The best approach to the greatest flea market in California is to have a game plan. Make a list of things to look for—Betty Boop umbrella stand, for example—otherwise, dear antique hunter, succumb to the overwhelming 20-acre-wide spread of every knickknack from the past hundred years. There's also beer, so that helps. Vintage clothing, Eames-era furniture, rare vinyl records, kitchenware,… More >>
  • Best Nursery

    Tree of Life

    You can buy your soil, plants and fruit trees at Lowe's, Home Depot or Armstrong Nursery and feel pretty much the same walking out as you did walking in. Tree of Life is more of a plant buying (and admiring) experience. First, you have to get to the place, inland from the 5 freeway off Ortega Highway. Surrounded by nature… More >>
  • Best Plant Store

    The Plant Stand

    The corner location of this Baker Street business is deceiving. It appears to be a somewhat small shop, but walk beyond the sheet-metal main building or through the back gates, follow the various paths winding in all directions, and discover just how sprawling the grounds really are. Hangar-sized buildings hold rows upon rows of flowering plants and trees. Much more… More >>
  • Best Health-Food Store

    Natural Tonic Center

    Bear with us: Natural Tonic Center is the official name of the health-food store near the post office on Warner Avenue in Huntington Beach—but on the marquee for the shop is the ever-cryptic "Health Food." But what draws in the crowds isn't so much the multitude of dietary supplements, manuals on good living and medicine ranging from homeopathic to olfactory—although… More >>
  • Best Liquor Store

    Vendome Wine & Spirits

    Wine-buying is intimidating for the uninitiated. The stakes are sometimes high. Is that $80 bottle you're buying to impress the wine snob coming to dinner going to get you in trouble? Will you be mocked for not knowing the difference between Carignane and Cinsaut? Vendome to the rescue. Wine tastings are held every other week under the tutelage of David… More >>
  • Bionic Records

    Best Record/CD Store

    Bionic Records

    Established in 1988, the independent store expanded to three locations throughout the county in its heyday before shifting trends in music buying (and pirating) contracted it back to its original Cypress spot. It relocated this year to a Buena Park storefront a block and a half south from its old space. Under the new ownership of Mike D, the store… More >>
  • Best Hard-to-Find-But-Worth-Every-Mile-of-Wasted-Gas Record Store

    Radiation Records

    In true punk-rock DIY form, Radiation Records doesn't advertise its existence. It doesn't have a website and doesn't run its Facebook page. Tucked away in an industrial building next to a Boy Scouts shop, it relies mostly on word-of-mouth and devoted followers. And the loyalty is well-deserved, with its well-stocked collection of obscure punk records and all the applicable accessories,… More >>
  • Best Place to Get a Punk History Lesson

    Black Hole Records

    Fullerton was an epicenter of early punk in Orange County, breeding Social Distortion, the Mechanics, Adolescents, D.I. and others, and one blond, bespectacled man has carried the punk torch in the city for nearly 20 years. Bill Evans started Black Hole Records with his wife, Anna, after quitting Naughty Women, which included among its members iconic punkers Izzy Stradlin, Rikk… More >>
  • Best Spa

    Montanya Spa

    Montanya Spa is a place where godawful spa clichés come from. It is a hidden gem, a Zen-like oasis tucked away from the hustle and bustle, a peaceful escape. And we're hooked. There's something restorative about sitting with a mimosa on the bamboo-enrobed patio of a haven inspired by a Japanese tea house, watching vibrant water lilies float near a… More >>
  • Best Laser Hair Removal

    Image Perfect Laser

    Being furry is the pits. Razor burn, ingrowns, 5-o'clock shadows (not just on the face), laying in compromising positions before a technician with a tub of wax—it's enough to make you want to pull your hair out, if that were even an option. Today's technology lets you banish the fuzz for good, and if you decide to go that route,… More >>
  • Best Blow Job


    There's tugging, teasing, huffing and sweating involved, but a date with the blow dryer is far from sexy. Looking good can be a major pain in the biceps. That's where drybar comes in. With the straightforward (and trademarked!) slogan "No cuts. No color. Just blowouts," the ultra-chic salon in Fashion Island's Atrium Court lets you plop onto a gleaming-white swivel… More >>
  • Best Manicure-Pedicure

    The Nail Lounge

    What makes the Nail Lounge so good is that everyone there is a little OCD. The place is immaculate, and the nail technicians are sticklers for sanitation, constantly disinfecting tools and using only brand-new, still-sealed nail files and buffers that they later let you take home. With that peace of mind, you can sink into the white chairs decked with… More >>
  • Best Hair Product


    What Brylcreem was for a generation of American men, Three Flowers represented for a generation of Latinos: pomade that made hair shine as bright as a spotlight. The only problem was its industrial strength meant it remained in your hair after multiple shampoo treatments. In comes Suavecito, a pomade with the same iron grip as Three Flowers, but with an… More >>
  • Best Barbershop

    Barbería El Catrin

    There are barbershops run by young guns who try too hard to be traditionalists—limited to men, run by guys whose hair is just a bit too kept to trust—but predictably fall flat as poseurs. And then there are the places like this tiny spot, where tradition blooms naturally, the entertainment can be anything from ska to Dumb and Dumber; the… More >>
  • Best Hair Salon

    Salon Pop and Barber Shop

    Like every other salon, Salon Pop and Barber Shop cuts hair and provides barber shaves, facials, mani-pedis and waxes. But what sets it apart is its aesthetic: It's both old and new, juxtaposing its retro décor with a fresh, hip vibe. The salon uses vintage dressers as hair-cutting stations, has a special barber station for straight-razor shaves—and offers PBR or… More >>
  • Best Tattoo Parlor

    Bad Influence Tattoo

    When Bob Nguyen was 14, he thought being a tattoo artist would be a good way to hook up with chicks. As the years passed, Nguyen realized there was more to tattoos than just getting said chicks, so he established Bad Influence Tattoo in 2003. Whether it's a 3D image of Jesus, black-and-white skulls, a frog with a horn sticking… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Pierced

    Distinctive Body Art Tattoo & Piercing

    The parlor features highly skilled piercers who will ease your worries when it comes to getting your first. One of the piercers at the shop was even trained by the famous Cholo, best-known for performing unique body piercings. As you walk into the shop, you'll see a variety of movie posters, World War II memorabilia and old license plates from… More >>
  • Best Way to Get a Pet

    German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County

    If you're looking to get a new pet, why not adopt a dog rescued from a high-kill shelter or abandoned by its owner? The German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County (GSROC), a nonprofit organization serving our area as well as greater LA, is dedicated to "rescuing, rehabilitating and re-homing purebred German shepherd dogs" in need. Along with adoptable dogs' sizes… More >>
  • Best Shop for Brides-to-Be

    The Wedding Pantry

    The world of wedding planning can be a frightening place, one swirling with bridesmaid dresses that resemble Aunt Mildred's kitchen curtains and DJs who believe it ain't a party until you hear "Macarena." Fortunately, a safe haven awaits. Curated by event-planning goddess Eva Chiou, the Wedding Pantry offers everything you need to make your big day special, smooth-flowing and completely… More >>
  • Best Sex Shop

    Spankys Adult Emporium

    Decked with Christmas lights, a sky-high sign that screams, "SPANKYS," and a vintage cop cruiser permanently parked in front, the kitschy-ness of the longstanding 24/7 porn shop—along with its legendary graphics of a man spanking a monkey, rubbing a rocket, choking a chicken and having one arm significantly buffer than the other—is usually enough to lure folks in, just to,… More >>
  • Best Place to Fuel Your Creative Fire

    Art Supply Warehouse

    Compared to the sterile, Martha Stewart-esque, holiday-themed aisles of corporate art suppliers, the shelves of Westminster's Art Supply Warehouse are a jungle of natural resources. Frequented by professional studio artists and dedicated hobbyists, Art Supply Warehouse is, essentially, where you'd sidle up to if you intended to get some serious shit done. As intimidating as it may sound for the… More >>
  • Best Marijuana Dispensary, Central OC

    American Collective

    This friendly storefront on Cabrillo Street has an onsite verification lobby located next door to the actual dispensary, which has a curtain providing privacy for patients selecting their medicine. This is not a dispensary for early risers: The American Collective is open daily from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. The friendly staff will direct you to a variety of special… More >>
  • Best Marijuana Dispensary, North OC

    Unit D Patient Collective

    This is Garden Grove's longest-running collective, the Orange County outpost of Joe Grumbine and Joe Byron's once-sprawling network of Long Beach dispensaries. It's where their whole sad saga began, the one that ended with their Dec. 17, 2009, arrests and the closure of every collective except this one, which reopened a few days after the raid. Referred to by supporters… More >>
  • Best Marijuana Dispensary, South OC

    Care Mutual

    This Foothill Ranch-based collective used to operate under the rather grandiose name God's Great Green Earth Collective, which spawned the popular online weed university God's Great Green Earth College Online. The high-end cannabis club caters to a more upscale customer base than many OC collectives. Its extensive menu features an array of indica and sativa strains, almost all of which… More >>
  • Best Smoke Shop

    One Stop Smoke Shop

    This establishment is in the business of healing broken hearts and broken glass. Whether you have clumsy friends or your parents got pissed and broke your piece of glass-blown beauty, gather the remains of your water pipe and bring them down to One Stop. It offers affordable repairs, among other smoker-friendly services—just one way owner Cara Bentley goes out of… More >>
  • Best Surf Shop

    Icons of Surf

    If you buy a surfboard at Icons of Surf, chances are you won't paddle out to your local lineup only to see a fellow surfer riding the same exact damn board. Why? Icons doesn't sell boards of the manufactured overseas variety. At Icons, no two boards look alike. Each is unique, much like the artisan of the shaping industry who… More >>
  • Buena Park Bicycles

    Best Bike Shop

    Buena Park Bicycles

    Those familiar with mountain-biking culture know its aficionados tend to get über-technical about their beloved sport. But who has time to think about component specs when tearing down a rocky single-track? Sometimes, simplicity is best, and you'll find it at Buena Park Bicycles. Forgoing such high-pressure sales tactics as aggressively pushing chain lubricant (oh, it happens, and it ain't pretty—trust… More >>
  • Best Skate Shop

    Long Beach Skate

    In its little more than two years, Long Beach Skate has been dishing out solid deals on the latest skateboarding gear. The husband-and-wife team of Tim Scanlan and Carrie White also makes a conscious effort to push beyond mere trade to get directly involved with outreach and advocacy for the Long Beach skating community. In addition to more obvious efforts… More >>
  • Best Mechanic

    Mihai Torok

    Anaheim's First Class Auto Center is one of many mechanic shops along the long strip of Lincoln Avenue. Even so, the garage of owner Mihai Torok's general auto-repair business is steadily filled with foreign and domestic cars and trucks in need of everything from tune-ups to brake jobs, smog checks to oil changes. Torok, a Romanian immigrant who has run… More >>
  • Best Dancing-Teapot Maker

    Kazem Arshi

    Sometimes, you don't know you need something until you see it. That's the case with most of Kazem Arshi's creations. You could sip your coffee out of any dingy ol' store-bought cup, or you could get your morning caffeine kick while gazing at the turquoise-hued glaze inside your handcrafted mug. Tough choice, right? The local pottery whiz has an artistic… More >>
  • Best Cheap Home Art

    The Poster List

    Finding affordable, non-cheesy home art is easy for experienced flea-market pickers, but a headache for décor novices who simply want to spruce up a drab apartment's walls. Luckily, there's the Poster List, a Long Beach-based supplier of simple yet super-cool posters and post cards that earn the approval of trendsters and hipsters alike. Designs range from city-specific (vintage-looking renderings of… More >>
  • Best Multipurpose Photographer

    Jeremiah Klein

    Digital photography has made almost anyone willing to dump some money on decent equipment a photographer. Or so they think. The best are still the ones who capture the brief moments that make us stop and stare. Jeremiah Klein, who's originally from Anaheim, is one of those established, versatile photographers. Whether he's shooting from just below the lip at Pipeline… More >>
  • Best Photographic Memorial Services

    Fullerton Photographics

    With the decaying shells of Fotomats withering in strip-mall parking lots around us, we're reminded it takes forward-thinking people to keep pace with the march of technology. Some do this well, while others see the fruits of their labor turned into locksmith kiosks. For a picture-book example of successful evolution, take a gander at Fullerton Photographics. Though it originally focused… More >>
  • Best Reason to Never Leave the House

    A Ridiculous Home Theater

    Seeing that we're all controlled by television and movies (at least that's what they always say on FOX News), why not make every viewing moment a thrill? Our ritzy Newport Coast neighbors hire DSI Entertainment Systems to build custom-made home theaters, with giant high-definition screens, perfect acoustics and plush, reclining leather seats. DSI, who are based in Los Angeles but… More >>