This guide is mostly for Santee Alley, but it includes a little of the fabric, and flower district.
So I made a map to show you what the downtown are looks like and some places to hit. I should add that the toy district is where you will find pinatas and things of the sort, but that its own post.
Now, the Santee Alley is a must see if you're visiting LA. It's a place where you can find EVERYTHING! Some of it might be stolen, just saying. DO NOT trust the guys whispering "Michael Kors purse", on the sidewalk. You will promptly be invited to visit the back of their van to see the purses. Yeah, that sounds, right. It's beyond crowded on the weekends and smells like pee, but I assure you, you will get the full LA experience. You won't find deals or stories like you do in Downtown :)
Be warned that you will find a lot of brand dupes. Just know that going in. 90% of things you find are not legit, but if you don't care, then you can get a good deal on some cute things.
So here it goes... Here are my tips for doing "the alley" right.
1. Saturday is crowded! If you're here during the week, It's better to visit then. Although on Saturdays you can do the early 6am shopping (on san pedro in the big shopping are). Those are unbelievable deals. I'm talking $5 clothes. Women show up with suitcases to those. There's also sample sales, which you can find the date and time to, here!
2. Bring Cash. Most places are cash only and will make you take out money from the ATM. The charges are ridiculous. Make sure you bring a small purse. I don't care what anyone says! LA is ghetto, with a capital G!
3. Parking. Parking can be tough. If you do the meter, be sure to be back on time because they're vultures when it comes to tickets. I speak from experience. And beware of the $2 parking signs, usually theres a fine print.
4. Bathrooms. Theres a bathroom all the way at the end of the Alley. It is in this building (pictured below). If you venture from the alley, you might need to pay to use it. I know! But this one is free!
5. Food. For the full LA experience you need to have an alley dog! I dream about those hot dogs. Then again, I dream about most food. Ha! Honorable mentions: Elote, corn on the cob with mayo, butter, cheese, and chili powder & Fruit, fruta con crema or fruit with chili, both are good :)
6. Haggle, haggle, haggle. You can totally haggle with them. They expect it! Usually I will walk away and they always give me a cheaper price. You can also ask if they will lower the price when you buy more than one thing.
Those are my best tips and tricks for the alley. Make sure you bring water! It gets crowded and hot, and very loud. It is definitely an experience and well worth it. I have found some of the best deals and some brand things (mostly forever 21). You can take kids and your stiller. Just know that it is very crowded and hard to find bathrooms.
The fabric is right in the fashion district and near the alley, you can walk there. You're in the thick of it on Maple and 8th. Just walk around and see what prices you can get. You can also haggle with them some of the time. Sometimes their prices are set but you can find better deals at other stores. You have to really look and see what you like.
On Maple, you will find the Michael Lavine store. This is a little nicer, looks like Hobby Lobby, and more expensive. But you can find some really nice fabrics. They have leather and really great patterns. Just to give you an idea the fabric pictured below is 12.50 a yard.
You will also find ribbon, zippers, and buttons in the surrounding shops and streets.
This is my favorite place! I love looking at the flowers. You need to pay for the main part of it, although I believe it's a suggested donation (not really) of $2. The flower prices go up on weekends and holidays. You can usually reserve flowers during the week and they will honor the price when you pick them up on the weekend. The shops around sometimes have good deals, but the flowers are sometimes less quality. Usually they're pre-arranged as well.
You will find the vases and all of those decor things in the surrounding shops. Usually around Wall & 8th.
There you have it! My guide to Downtown Shopping! If you have any questions or are visiting LA, feel free to comment below or email me.
I would like to make an "LA guide" soon! So stay tuned :)