The Retro Charm Of Burbank's Magnolia Boulevard: A Shopping Guide
Remember when Melrose Avenue was a hotbed of hip, carrying stuff for the rockers and punks, retro-lovers and alt-fashion fiends of Los Angeles (and tourists looking to capture the trendy “L.A. look”)? These days—with a few exceptions—the part of the avenue south of Fairfax is clustered with Lycra club clothes that look more like Santee Alley in downtown than the edgy hub of yore. But this doesn’t mean unique style mongers have nowhere to go. Right now, L.A. officially has a worthy successor to Melrose at its height, a street filled with vampy vintage, goth-y goodies, awesome antiques and more. And its locale may surprise you.
We’re talking about Burbank. Yes Burbank. You might know it best for its easier airport alternative or its surplus of studios (NBC, Disney, Warner Brothers) or even its IKEA, but the area known as Magnolia Park (between Victory and Clybourn) has become a go-to for stylists and set designers looking for inspiration as well as femmes and fellas fond of flashbacky fashion. These and more gather on the boulevard the last Friday of the month for “Ladies Night” an outdoor street party wherein food trucks line curbs and the hippest shops stay open late, often offering entertainment, art shows, book signings and refreshments.
Here is the best of Burbank’s blooming and booming Magnolia Blvd.
Photo via Unique Vintage.
It's easy to say yes to the dresses in this spacious chandelier-adorned shop. With original vintage-inspired designs catering to the inner Bettie Page in all of us, UV’s gowns and frocks have an old-timey flare inspired by fashion’s past, from the 50's to the 70's, plus accessories such as jewelry, tights and purses. There’s a bodacious bridal section too.
Unique Vintage is located at 2013 W Magnolia Blvd., (818) 848-1540.
Pin-up Girl Boutique (Photo by Lina Lecaro).
Pin-up Girl Boutique
From the girly exterior and store sign to the shop’s perfectly coiffed staff, shopping at PUG is an experience you won't soon forget. Pinup Girl's Laura Byrnes and Micheline Pitt design and manufacture all their own designs right in LA, and their aesthetic is as sexy as it is specific. They specialized in 50s and early 60s dresses and separates in repro and retro prints cut to flatter every figure and size. Glamour girl makeup and bags complete the va-va voomy vibe. (Disclosure: We hosted a Ladies Night event there last year.)
Pinup Girl Boutique is located at 3606 W Magnolia Blvd., (818) 559-9586.
Classic Hardware (Photo by Lina Lecaro)
Karyn Cantor’s vintage-inspired pieces mesh Art Nouveau, Deco and pop art into sassy baubles that dare to be noticed. Her stuff has been a mainstay in the edgiest L.A. boutiques but in her flagship Burbank shop, you get to see all of her lines at once, and it’s all pretty irresistible. From vibrant plastic rings to die-cast metal charm bracelets and necklaces (the charms function as cute little frames for a variety of imagery both new and old) to belt buckles, hair accessories and wall art, all of Cantor’s costume jewels offer classic cool.
Classic Hardware is located at 3007 West Magnolia Blvd., (818) 841-8485.
8 Ball (Photo by Lina Lecaro)
The notable rockabilly and hotrod crews that frequent the burb probably originated at the old school Bob’s Big Boy restaurant down the road, where classic car enthusiasts congregate in the parking lot a few nights a week. But 8 Ball, which started its biz on Olive Ave before moving to Magnolia a few years ago, deserves credit for bringing in the greased lightnin’ gaggles too. They carry some of best-known brands favored by the retro crowd including Sourpuss, Steady and Hell Bunny. The aesthetic is very tattoo-driven with gothy skulls, spider webs, and monster imagery on the everything from dresses to sweaters to magnets and kitchenware.
8 Ball is located at 3424 West Magnolia Blvd., (818) 859-7562.
Balloon monsters at Dark Delicacies (Photo by Lina Lecaro)
Speaking of gothy goodness, this horror-themed book and gift shop kills the competition. Operating in Burbank since 1994, owners Del and Sue Howison specialize in vampiric material, but they give space to other ghoulish creatures and topics too: witches, zombies, etc. Collectables, figurines, jewelry, posters and DVDs round out the merch here, and the latter has become almost as popular as their books, with filmmakers often dropping in for signings and fan Q&As.
Dark Delicacies is located at 3512 W Magnolia Blvd., (818) 556-6660.
Halloween Town (Photo by Lina Lecaro)
For fans of the macabre, Ministry’s classic, “Everyday is Halloween” isn’t just a song, it’s a way of life. This store—actually three different shops—is the retail incarnation of the goth anthem. While you might see similar shops pop up late September and through October, Halloweentown (like few other shops) is a year-round emporium stocking costumes (there’s always some cosplay dress-up event happening in LA, right?), creepy props, toys, and clothing. This is sort of like Soap Plant/Wacko if it was located inside Jack Skellington’s head.
Halloweentown is located 2921 W Magnolia Blvd. (There are two adjacent locations for kids stuff and more costumes),(818) 848-3642.
Junk For Joy (Photo by Lina Lecaro)
Junk for Joy
In the business of wacky, funny and kitschy fashion and trinkets for decades, JFJ is known best for costumey accessories. The new owners have kept that going with all the doodads and embellishments you’d need to complete any look (hats, suspenders, jewelry, sequined pieces, sunglasses). They’ve also brought in a nice selection of vintage and dead-stock clothing to fill in the newer, more traditional costume pieces, plus tchotchkes, ephemera and toys both new and old.
Junk For Joy is located at 3314 W Magnolia Blvd., (818) 569-4903.
Via Atomic Records.
The vinyl resurgence might be trendy right now, but long, long before Urban Outfitters put albums as their hot entryway items, and even before a lot of the more authentic vinyl shops opened up past few years, there was Atomic Records. Boasting a solid selection of jazz, country, rock and pop, full albums and 7 inches, plus a very decent DVD and video section, Atomic might bring to mind that John Cusack/Jack Black flick “High Fidelity.” The clerks here know their stuff, and just might shame ya a little if you don’t.
Atomic Records is located at 3812 W Magnolia Blvd., (818) 848-7090.
Creature Features (Photo by Lina Lecaro)
A fave of collectors and creators of science fiction, horror and fantasy film, this monster memorabilia haven has re-animated itself over the years, changing ownership and locales but never wavering its nerdy obsessions with all things fantastical, freaky and filmic. Its expansive locale on Magnolia features collectables, art, posters, books, movies, t-shirts and so much more. Monthly signing and exhibits often see lines down the block and wait times to get in that are truly scary.
Creature Features is located at 2904 West Magnolia Blvd., (818) 842-8665.
Burbank Antiques (Photo by Lina Lecaro)
Vintage furnishings are just as sought after as fashion on Magnolia. Here are a few of the best for great old décor and cool collectable treasures:
The Bearded Lady- Fun assortment of oddities from old art pieces to home furnishings. Taxidermy, retro magazines, records, tchotchkes and trinkets round out the freaky fun. 3005 W Magnolia Blvd., (323) 696-5219.
The Blue Pig- Cool old signs, furniture from the 40's to the 70's, jewelry and more. 2306-A Magnolia Blvd., (310) 948-6456
Burbank Antiques- Fun and friendly flashback stuff including records, furniture, kitchen supplies, toys and more. 3423 W Magnolia Blvd., (818) 845-5700.
Best of Times- Some of the “best” vintage ephemera, knick knacks and house stuff from times gone by. 3401 W Magnolia Blvd., (818) 848-5851.
Playclothes (Photo by Lina Lecaro)
Magnolia’s plethora of second-hand, used and vintage might be unmatched in the entire city, but that doesn’t mean they’re all good. The best boutiques offer a wide selection of recycled chic at fair prices, in good condition, with friendly staff and hopefully a fun shopping atmosphere. From high-end to dirt-cheap, here are our faves:
Playclothes- The prettiest displays and curation on the boulevard, you really do want to play in here. The vintage is from a variety of eras, all grouped together and identified neatly and nicely with informative tags and information. For those willing to pay for the history lesson and styled inspiration, the prices are fair. 3100 W Magnolia Blvd., (818) 557-8447.
It’s A Wrap- Stocking a variety of pieces suited to movie and TV stylists and fashionistas with a flair for the dramatic. 3315 W Magnolia Blvd., (818) 567-7366.
Hubba Hubba- If you’re looking for glam, you’ll probably leave saying thank you, ma’am. 3220 W Magnolia Blvd., (818) 845-0636.
American Way Thriftstore- A thrift shop in the truest sense, this recycled clothing emporium does not have a lot of real vintage (unless you count 90s and some 80s stuff as such). But there's just so much that your odds of finding great basics are good. There are tons of shoes, shirts, tops and dresses (tons of LBDs!) from Old Navy, Gap, Bebe and Forever 21 priced at around 5.99 and often half-off that on certain days. It’s dusty, a little dirty and you have to dig, but the deals are worth it. 3226 W Magnolia Blvd., (818) 841-6013.
American Way Thrift Store. (Photo by Lina Lecaro)