When you’re ready to do some holiday shopping in Los Angeles, skip the madness of Black Friday. Do you really want to camp outside of a Best Buy? Shop on Saturday, November 30th for Small Business Saturday instead!
When you dole out your hard-earned dollars, you’ll make an entrepreneur happy. You won’t just rack up good karma points, you’ll be supporting the local community and discovering some hidden gems. We could write from now until New Year’s about creative small businesses around this sprawling city. Alas…we only had time to highlight a handful. Read on to learn about amazing establishments doing their part to support the overall U.S. economy. Happy shopping and eating and more!
Food and Restaurants
Los Angeles is a foodie paradise with cuisines represented from around the world. Here are some of the top independently owned eateries in and around Los Angeles.
Located in the hip Silver Lake area of Los Angeles, this restaurant serves authentic Italian food, like handmade ravioli, along with an extensive and creative wine list. Chef and owner Zach Pollack melds traditional Italian cuisine together with an American influence. The restaurant has over 40 reviews on Facebook and here’s our favorite:
“Best meal I've ever had in my life.”
Another reviewer loves the local vibe:
“Perhaps my favorite thing about Alimento is the ambiance. While it's an upscale Italian restaurant, it has a true neighborhood restaurant feel to it. I was there a few weeks ago and will already be going back in a couple of days.”
2. Sweet Cherries Diner
This small family-owned diner, located in Sunland, is run by Desi Guijarro, his wife Ludy, and sons Ismael and Rudy. If you're looking for all-American fair like hamburgers, fries, milkshakes, and traditional breakfast options, this is the restaurant for you. Here’s one of the many 5-star reviews on Yelp:
“A true greasy spoon. The decor has the charm of a diner from eras past. Not the most up to date but fairly well maintained with a layer of grease to let you know how often they crank out the food here. It's not dirty by any means. Food was exactly as we had hoped was on point and filling. I'd come back.”
3. Peddlers Fork
Started by a bicycling enthusiast, Peddlers Fork is a local scratch restaurant, genuine bar, 10 Speed Coffee Shop, and a boutique bike shop – all wrapped together in a beautiful setting. The locals are crazy for this establishment with one writing:
“Seriously, this place is great and I'm not even sure where to begin! I've been here on several occasions and the service has always been lovely. Whenever I've gone, it's never taken more than 15 minutes to be seated and the servers have always been nice and attentive.”
4. VIP’s Cafe
A true family owned establishment, you can find the owners of VIP’s Café wiping tables, seating customers, and making small talk with the regulars. Surrounded by chain restaurants, patrons are in for a treat whether they dine indoors or outdoors. The lunch specialties include authentic Asian dishes with their won-ton soup being a huge crowd pleaser. Facebook followers love VIPs.
“I go here at least once a week. My FAVORITE place to eat for the last 7 years. Big portions with amazing taste, good pricing, amazing people, and validation for 1.5 hours parking behind the buildings. You can sit outside with your animals as long as they're friendly! I have taken many people here and no one leaves disappointed.”
5. Someone’s in the Kitchen
Los Angeles loves to get their special events on! From movie premiers to weddings, one local caterer is crushing it in this highly competitive marketplace. Joann Roth- Oseary was raised in a household that loved to entertain. One day over 30 years ago, she baked apple breads presented on apple-shaped cutting boards as gifts. Within just three weeks she had sold more than 750 and attracted her first corporate client. Someone's in the Kitchen now offers full service event catering. This review from entertainment and news giant NBC Universal sums it up:
“As you could see, the guests were ecstatic as they left, and our client complimented on the excellent dinner. Moreover, the service provided not only did you not flinch when I called with last minute request. Thank you for being so responsive and cheerful. I look forward to working with Someone’s in The Kitchen again.”
Source: SITK website
6. Mon Sushi/Mon Ramen
Sushi Chef Yuji Keimi and his wife Noriko run an intimate sushi bar and authentic ramen restaurant in the San Fernando Valley. The sushi/ramen landscape is huge in Los Angeles and the Keimi’s hold their own with fresh and creative fare. BONUS: You can usually run into a local celebrity at Mon Sushi: Fabio! The world-famous model even has a special sushi roll named after him. For sure you’ll be dining with repeat customers. Many of the patrons have been with the Keimi’s since the beginning.
“Love this place. My husband got the Spicy Deluxe Miso Ramen (meat lovers) there was enough to take home and have a second meal the next day. I got the Chicken Shoyu and it was so flavorful. They have great add ons too like egg, seaweed, tofu, extra noodles, etc. In addition, you can pay a few dollars extra and get a roll added to your meal. This place is super super super small....did I mention super small??? LOL but so worth the long wait. The food comes out quick so the wait isn't that bad because the tables turn quickly.”
7. Sweetsalt Food Shop
Sweetsalt Food Shop in Toluca Lake is a Martha’s Vineyard inspired restaurant; but imagine if Martha moved to Los Angeles and got really, really into organic, local, unique eats. Influences range not only from the East Coast, but also Latin America, and Spain. Run by Head Chef Alex Eusebio, they offer gourmet sandwiches, salads, soups, and entrees. The shop also specializes in coffee culture with help from local roasters Groundwork. Customers rave about the restaurant on Facebook:
“The menu is so great. I honestly could not decide what to get. There is just too much good stuff to choose from. I finally settled on the Steak & Brie with chimichurri. It was amazing. I am definitely going to make special trips over the hill to try the Lavender Duck Confit, Serrano & Fig and the Chorizo & Manchego...To make my experience even better, they had the best bakery case ever. I had a brownie with caramel and two macarons... so good!”
Art, Fashion, Books, and More
Skip Rodeo Drive. When you need to get your shopping on, support these independent stores.
1. Sewing Arts
The Sewing Arts is a small boutique sewing center located in Santa Monica. They're a one-stop-shop, for all sewing needs: machines, fabric, notions, accessories, etc. Sewing Arts hold classes for all skill levels, beginners to advanced students, along with creative course series that build upon each other, helping you refine your skills.
"This store is great & has a wonderful kids camp! My daughter had no sewing experience and loved it. Every day she came home with a new impressive project :)"
2. The Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk
Although the Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit economic development organization, it was founded to help underserved youth, artists, galleries, and art related small and micro businesses. Their signature event, highlighting small businesses throughout the downtown district, is a self-guided art experience. Facebook fans rave about the opportunity to connect with art entrepreneurs! For a map and more materials to make the most out of your walk, visit the DTLA website here.
“Best way to explore the city, meet people and be inspired, is partaking in the art walk! It's all good times, and every time it is unique and different! Thanks to all those behind the scenes!”
3. The Last Bookstore
Described as an “Airy book & record store offering new & used items in a multilevel space adorned with local art”, the sadly named Last Bookstore is a downtown LA institution. with the tagline, “What are you waiting for? We won’t be here forever.” The shop is a mix of Victorian drawing room, sci-fi spectacle and artist loft bohemianism. Their mission is to keep the paper and ink book business alive in this era of e-readers and digital downloads.
For a complete overview of the popular destination for tourists and locals alike, check out this award-winning 11 minute documentary on owner Josh Spencer: Welcome to the Last Bookstore. With almost 2,000 Yelp reviews, we hope this bookstore IS around forever.
“In a world where Barnes & Noble and Borders are dying out, it is a treasure to find such a comprehensive bookstore. This bookstore is a landmark of DTLA, and I sure hope they will be here a long time!”
4. Franky’s Barber Boutique
Franky’s Barber Boutique, owned by Jessie and Brian, is part barber shop, part record store, and part vintage tee and accessory destination. Dig through racks of novelty tees ranging from the ’50s to the early ’90s, browse an extensive vinyl collection ,and get a haircut all in one fantastic place.
“I love Franky's! Been going for years. The owner is super friendly. They have super cool original t shirts that are really swell quality. Mostly they are of cult films or icons and band shirts. The record collection is on point. You can find some rare stuff. Mostly glam and punk. I hope they continue to do well!! Franky's reminds me of how old Silverlake was before the area sold out ...unique, artful, hip-cat boutique. Keep it up dudes!”
5. Memento Mori
Memento Mori is an award winning and beautifully curated curiosity shop featured on shows such as Bravo's Million Dollar Listing and A&E's Storage Wars. The store was recently featured in LA Weekly's Best of 2019 edition. The Hollywood location has a Gothic church feel with vaulting ceilings and rich mahogany wood accents, showcasing the most unique curiosities, oddities and treasures in Los Angeles. The one-of-a-kind space is also available for shoots and commercial installations.
“What an amazing store. You will def find you are looking for. I was intrigued by the old photographs still kept in their original casings from nearly 100 years ago. Sculptures, tarot cards, candles, mummified animals. The list goes on. Props for the staff being super cool about adjusting my price after realizing I forgot to present a discount code.”
You guys are the best!”
6. The Flower Factory
You can’t miss the Flower Factory located on Ventura Boulevard in Encino. The shop with colorful flower sculptures spinning outside is family owned business in operation since 1992. The Flower Factory team works hard to deliver beautiful fresh flowers and unique gifts throughout Los Angeles County and the United States. The Flower Factory has grown to be recognized as a leader in the industry and has been awarded a top florist award and quality star recipient for over 10 years in a row.
“If you believe in the saying "You get what you pay for" then this is the place to go. And please don't get it confused with cheap. If that special someone is celebrating something special, then this is the place to go. If you're looking to impress someone, then this is the place to go. If it's for someone of high value, then this is the place to go. If you're looking for creativity, then this is the place to go...A special thanks to The Flower Factory for the unique arrangement that contributed and made my wife's 40th birthday more memorable!!!”
7. Bridge & Burn
Bridge & Burn founder Erik Prowell was pursuing a master’s degree in computer science when he realized he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life slouched over a computer. With no formal design training, he took a calculated leap and decided he was done working for anyone but himself. Prowell celebrates other Bridge Burners—bold entrepreneurs who have stepped out on their own and “burned the bridge” of working for anyone else. Check out his blog series covering creative clothing creators here.
“They had so many cool clothes - fresh and perfect for summer - that I had to seriously limit myself to just two items. I got two shirts - one T-shirt and one button up - and they fit me just perfect. I really hate that a lot of shirts these days have are sleeves for super skinny arms. I'm not exactly Hulk Hogan but I'm not some skinny hipster dude either. I really like that their clothes looked cool and had excellent quality, I like that they can fit me just right without making me look like I'm busting out the guns or that the size above is just too loose. Another cool thing was that they were playing some old school ska/reggae and that was the perfect music to play at that time. Finally, the service was fantastic. The dude made sure I had different sizes to try and we talked about nothing in particular but it was a welcoming conversation.”
For more Small Business Saturday shopping recommendations, head to the SmartBiz Small Business Blog.
Support your local small businesses this holiday season and all year round!