Thanks to a few recent additions, LA is enjoying something of a retail revival.
WORDS BY JENNIFER HAMM
SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP
LA’s once nearly deserted Farmers Market has been rejuvenated by its newest neighbor, a charming shopping village called The Grove. After depositing their cars in the parking lot, visitors enter an outdoor oasis. Cobblestone paths, fountains and sidewalk cafés make The Grove feel more like a European village than a typical Los Angeles shopping center. Those familiar with the neon-dominated Universal City Walk will notice a distinct departure when visiting The Grove, where tranquillity has triumphed. But peace does not come at the cost of good shopping or dining. The Grove has many of the big-name places you’d expect— including Nordstrom, Banana Republic and The Cheesecake Factory— alongside some quintessentially Californian establishments, like Hawk Skate, selling skateboards and apparel from Tony Hawk.
Connected to The Grove is the Farmers Market, which has been at the corner of Third and Fairfax since 1934. Despite its long history, the market had become an overlooked gem. But the addition of The Grove has meant renewed enthusiasm for the Farmers Market. And it’s no wonder. Visitors can find everything from gourmet dog treats to an extensive selection of cheeses. Locals like it for staples such as organic produce and fresh meat. It’s also an ideal place to sit down for a fine French meal or even just a quick coffee and donut. The Grove and Farmer’s Market have all of the luxury without much of the pretension one might find in nearby Beverly Hills.
The GroveTo discover another addition to LA’s retail scene, head up the road to Hollywood Boulevard. The multistory outdoor shopping center Hollywood & Highland is named for the cross streets where it is located. Like The Grove, this mall has also developed around an LA landmark.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre has attracted millions of visitors since it opened in 1927. Many come to see where Hollywood’s biggest stars have left their hand and footprints in the cement. With the construction of Hollywood & Highland, the theater underwent renovation and now has a modern exterior. It is also neighbor to the Kodak Theatre, which hosts the Academy Awards. Visitors can take a backstage tour of the theater seven days a week.
What The Grove did for the Farmer’s Market, Hollywood & Highland has done for Hollywood Boulevard. For many years, it was little more than a dirty, downtrodden street. Tourists hopped off their buses to snap photos of the Chinese Theatre but rarely stayed for long. Today, this stretch of Hollywood Boulevard is bustling with locals and tourists alike.
Hollywood & HighlandThe centerpiece of Hollywood & Highland is Babylon Court. Massive elephant statues sit atop three stories of shops. The façade is a homage to DW Griffith’s classic silent film Intolerance. Though the design is a throwback to yesteryear, the striking courtyard is indeed modern, if not slightly Las Vegas in its feel.
Within three stories of shopping, visitors will find novelty stores, lingerie boutiques and brand names such as Ann Taylor and Nine West. And it’s expanding. A Virgin Megastore is slated to open at Hollywood & Highland this fall. After a serious credit card workout, shoppers can unwind over sushi, Italian or French cuisine. But don’t head off just yet—take in a panoramic view of the city at The Highlands, a 30,000-square-foot nightclub at the top of the center.
More than just malls and a market, these retail experiences are breathing new life into Los Angeles. Now is the perfect time to visit some of Hollywood’s historical hotspots... and pick up some new duds while you’re at it.
©Photo Courtesy of AF Gilmore Company