Best Of :: Shopping & Services
Like many of the shops inside the Gateway Plaza, Archives Book Café has the sort of quaint affability that's increasingly rare in a world of Wal-Marts and Starbucks. Its organic, old-library feel is decades removed from the impersonality of the big book sellers. But enough of that... what's for sale? Well, aside from café items like lattes ($3), bagels ($2.50 with cream cheese), and cookies ($1), Archives' book collection runs the literary gamut, from presidential biographies to true crime (there is a difference), as well as all subgenres of fiction, history, politics, and religion. An impressive percentage of the store's inventory is like new, which means you're more likely to find psychiatric books about Prozac than, say, trepanation. And because of that newness, Archives is more sinus-friendly than a lot of the other dust dens that pass as used-book stores. Prices vary depending on the title, though the average fiction novel runs $5.95, pocket-sized paperbacks cost $1, and many of the normal-sized paperbacks end up in the $2.83 section. Archives may not be the biggest bookstore in town, but its cozy atmosphere goes a long way. And, for that matter, so will a dollar.
Asa Boynton is a one-man crime fighter, dope-den destroyer, letter writer, and critic of Hollywood City Hall. In fact, Boynton's tireless hell-raising with Hollywood's Police Department and politicians earned him our nod as this year's Best Gadfly. Since moving to the Diamond of the Gold Coast from Kendall a decade ago, Boynton has made community activism his passion. But there's more to him than that. Boynton's also an entertainer, a man whose love of costumes inspired him to be what he is today: a singing telegram artist. Of course, Boynton does more than sing and dance. He dresses the part. He'll show up at corporate events, parties, and even your front door dressed in a purple gorilla suit or in his favorite costume, the Hairy Fairy. In fact, Boynton unveils his new Hairy Fairy costume with this photo. When it comes to his favorite shop in town, he's quick with an answer: Chantik Imports. Located in downtown Hollywood, Chantik specializes in furniture and arts and crafts imported from Indonesia. Boynton loves Chantik's furniture, but it's the store's masks and woodcrafts that drive him back week after week. "I just get off on carved wood and different kinds of masks," Boynton says. "Plus, I'm a Leo, and I love tribal-looking things." At Chantik, Boynton has bought everything from mirrors to masks to painted wooden fish that he uses to hang from his clown costume.
As the name suggests, CD Collector wants to unburden you of those extra discs piling up at the back of your music collection. If they're in good shape and not especially lame (e.g., Pat Boone's heavy metal album), bring 'em in for either cash or store credit. If your CDs are scratched-up or played-out, then bring cash -- you'll need some form of currency after perusing the assorted CDs, records, DVDs, T-shirts, and other music-related knickknacks you'll inevitably haul up to the register. While there are plenty of hip-hop and dance CDs to go around, the store is especially heavy on rock -- indie, punk, classic, new wave, etc. For your convenience, the more spin-worthy LPs are hung on the wall, including reissues of the Clash's self-titled album ($13.95) and Suicide's 1/2 Alive ($12.95). The thousands of used LPs in the main bin are a bit cheaper but still far above dollar-bin quality. Speaking of dollar deals, a buck is all you pay for each of the CDs stored in the back of the shop (across from the Numark DJ packages, which run $275 to $385 for dual turntable kits). A dollar also gets you one of those old-school punk, ska, and Oi! buttons you won't find at Hot Topic. Of course, after a trip to CD Collector, you've got no reason to do your music shopping at the mall.
If you're not accustomed to the scavenger-like joys of second-hand shopping, here's rule number one: The difference between a vintage store and a thrift store is like the difference between Ralph Lauren and Target. That being said, Vintage Diversity has the type of hip, retro garb you'd otherwise find only on eBay. Pick a decade, any decade (OK, maybe not the medieval period) and owner Melanie Garbo-Byrnes will find the right size and style. The prices are as varied as the fashions. Mod-styled blazers start around $46 and can run four times that. Forty bucks is the average price for men's shirts, black Members Only jackets (remember those?), and accessories like a '30s-era woman's hat (gray wool with sequins). For vintage on the cheap, show up on Saturday for the $5 sales racks -- that guayabera shirt you were eyeballing on Thursday just might be there. And if you just need something to rent for a party, that's fine; $75 covers your rental costs from head to toe. Just let Melanie know what look you're going for. Austin Powers -- no prob. Saturday Night Fever, Grease -- consider it done. Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Uh, how old are you?
Watching the wild thing doesn't get any easier than this. This spacious smut palace is just a few blocks off I-95 with easy and ample parking. Thousands of DVDs, featuring every form of bonking one could imagine, line the walls and racks, some for as little as $6. Complete Adult also rents DVDs for $4.25 for two days, with a refundable deposit. What this place has going over most of its competitors is the "preview room," where patrons can seal themselves into small cubicles and watch scenes from a selection of sex tapes that revolves weekly. At about a buck a minute, it's spendy, but it does keep your home porn stash down to a manageable level. Open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday till midnight.
As you walk through Las Olas Beauty, passing by shelves of skin creams and bath products, you can tell the store knows its cosmetics. But if you venture back into the massage room, you'll see that the store's concept of beauty runs more than just skin deep. The various massages available are tailored to your particular needs, whether it's working out the knots in your neck or giving your lymphatic system a good jolt. If you're a newbie who thinks all massages are the same (ever had an Oriental?), you'll probably want to start with a mini massage ($40), a 30-minute stress buster ($40), or a Swedish ($70). If you want to step things up a bit -- and don't have especially frail bones -- try the deep tissue for $80. (Mini deep tissues are available for $40.) Another $80 treat is the Shirodhara, which includes a foot and hand massage while a stream of warm oil is poured onto your forehead (the opposite of Chinese water torture). But if you're ready to go all the way, lymphatic drainage therapy (of the face or body) costs $125; it's an invigorating, detoxifying boon to your immune system. Until you learn to stop slouching, consider this your health retreat.