Putting together this list made me realize I don’t do much downtown shopping for clothes. So instead here is a general list of stores with one extra, because you can never have enough places to shop at. And I just finished shopping for Christmas gifts at some of these stores today, so hope this helps anyone looking for last minute gift ideas.

Teapots on sale at Utsuwa-No-Yakata in Little Tokyo Galleria

Little Tokyo Galleria Mall • 333 S. Alameda Street • http://www.littletokyogalleria.net

I’m placing the whole mall as one stop because it literally was a one-stop shop for affordable Christmas gifts this year. A set of sake cups from Utsuwa-No-Yakata and a bottle of sake from Woori Market (formerly Mitsuwa) set me back only $12.

Kinokuniya • 123 Astronaut E S Onizuka #205 • http://www.kinokuniya.com

The most adorable, unique, and creative gifts come from this Japanese bookstore. Washi tape, well-designed stationery, and books and magazines in both English and Japanese are what you’ll spend hours browsing through.

Tokyo Japanese Outlet • 114 Japanese Village Plaza Mall • http://www.tokyojlsusa.com

Here you’ll find anime toys, cosmetics, and useful knick knacks for around the house. I used to stock up on Red Cherry lashes when they were less than $2 each, but they have since raised prices, so not everything is dirt cheap there.

Summer's shiny, sparkly dresses at Shareen Vintage

Shareen Vintage • 350 N. Avenue 21 • http://www.shareenvintage.com

A bit of a fashionista secret, this warehouse in Lincoln Heights north of downtown stocks the best vintage frocks. I’ve always managed to fall in love with two or three dresses there, and never balked at their price point. The accessories can be a bit pricey for what they are though. Come here if you need a special dress that everyone will be asking you about and won’t break the bank.

Books at St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store

St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store • 210 N. Avenue 21 • http://www.svdpla.org

This thrift store right down the street from Shareen is HUGE. Furniture, kitchen wares, clothing, shoes, even gym equipment. I was over the moon to see the “Paperback books for $0.99″ sign even though they didn’t stock anything on my wishlist. My friend D has had some major luck with furniture deals here, like that beautiful polished black console he has.


Olde Good Things

Olde Good Things • 1800 S. Grand Avenue • http://www.ogtstore.com

Do you remember that scene from The Little Mermaid where we get to see Ariel’s grotto full of antiques? It’s kind of like that here, and I got that same wondrous feeling that I did when I was a kid watching that movie. It’s vast, and there are a lot of old things, so I wouldn’t recommend going by yourself if you scare easily. No, I’m not kidding.

Kimski Makes • 369 E. 2nd Street • http://www.kimski.com

A purveyor of both well-priced basics and on-trend pieces in Little Tokyo. I like the clothes from their house brand and Piko 1988.

Cooper Design Space • 860 S. Los Angeles Street • http://www.cooperdesignspace.com

Sample sale shopping is what I love about Los Angeles, and the Cooper Design Space leads the pack. The usual suspects include Corey Lynn Calter, Cynthia Vincent, Mike & Chris, and other local talent. I check their blog for sale announcements.

Boxes of $32 jeans at J Brand

J Brand Outlet • 1201 E. Washington Boulevard • Facebook

Their prices are cheaper-than-Gilt-Groupe outlet prices, but they have racks full of still-in-stores jeans. I bought a pair of Lovestory wide legs in a dark wash for less than $60, and BF just scored a pair of Kane’s in the $40 box. And their salesmen are helpful and rather nice to look at. Sign up for their mailing list to get updates on new stock and sales.

The Last Bookstore • 400 S. Main Street • http://www.lastbookstorela.com

This used bookstore is well stocked and the pricepoints are good. Unlike the used bookstores I’d frequent in Berkeley and Oakland as a young college gal, the salespeople here always greet me with a smile.

Raggedy Threads • 330 E. 2nd Street #B • http://www.raggedythreads.com

This vintage store and I both hail from the same ‘hood, and we both moved to downtown at around the same time. My most beloved vintage pieces, like my favorite brown belt with turtles embossed on it and my favorite white summer dress, came from this store! It’s reasonably priced and the vintage pieces are not a joke, though they lean a bit towards 70s and 80s styles.

My gift shopping outfit - animal print, leather shorts, and wine-colored tights a la 3.1 Phillip Lim Fall 2009.