Shop Hop: The Downtown Retail Roundup

The fashion boutique Voodoo opened late last year on Ninth Street. Many of the items come in purple. 

The holidays are fast approaching. Within a few weeks people will sit down for turkey, to give thanks and spend time with family. For many people, including Downtown residents, as soon as they’re finished with a holiday feast, they’ll jump into their cars (or onto a scooter) and head to their nearest big-box retailer to take advantage of attractive Black Friday holiday deals.

With only 10 days until Thanksgiving, and the unofficial start of the winter holiday season, it’s a good time to remind Downtown residents that there are scores of local independent small businesses with unique, quality goods across the Central City that deserve your patronage.

Downtown shoppers will without doubt flock to retail hubs like Figat7th and The Bloc, and even boutique-filled complexes like Row DTLA. These places of course have their benefits, they can be all-in-one stops, and are often next to restaurants or entertainment spots to liven up the holiday shopping. Big-name stores are also reliable, meaning shoppers know what they’re going to get.

However there are benefits to smaller, local shops that larger retailers simply can’t match. This page is not referring to dime a dozen tourist shops, but rather the many independent retailers that fill the gaps between tent pole shops and you likely pass by every day.

Downtown is home to long-standing cultural communities, such as Olvera Street, Chinatown and Little Tokyo, which are filled with smaller, independent stores and family-owned spaces selling goods rooted in heritage and culture. Take Japanese Village for example, where it’s just as easy to find a pair of Nikes as it is to find imported manga books for a niece or nephew. By Union Station, Olvera Street is where you can find hand-made art and other wares.

There are still artists in the Arts District crafting clothes, jewelry and other potential gifts as well as smaller galleries scattered across the Historic Core and other enclaves. The Fashion District is almost entirely composed of a nexus of independent storefronts selling a variety of clothes, fabrics and accessories.

Any concern of the quality of these products is fair. Some have been called kitsch. However you would be surprised what you can find. These spaces offer something outside the familiar and traditional gifts you can find at major retailers, and offer a chance to purchase that perfect gift for loved ones.

In addition, on a purely business level, the holiday shopping season is often one of the biggest sources of income for many of these stores and helps them stay afloat. Buying local in the holiday season helps the community in the same way that shopping at farmers markets can support growers. On a social level, keeping these shops around maintains character and diversity to Downtown and helps prevent a homogenized community.

At the end of the day, these are your neighbors, and after all, during the holiday season, isn’t that who we’re supposed to think of?