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Last-Second Holiday Shopping around Broadway

By Paige Osburn
Published: Friday, December 23, 2011, at 12:16PM
Flickr/Bill Ward's Brickpile

The Last Bookstore



Everyone knows Broadway is the place to go for lights, camera and $500 Quincinera gowns. But there's a wellspring of other unorthodox goodies just waiting to be discovered.

The big ticket: Neon fixie Downtown LA Bikes' owner produces these hippest of footcycles in the upstairs half of his shop. Downstairs he displays a wide variety of colors and patterns of his fixed-gear bikes. Fixies have seen a resurgence in recent years as the choice means to careen down Spring Street, But for those less prone to serious injury, Rodney also has plenty of low-riders and seven-speeds to spare. Test rides in the shop (tho you'll have to front 1/3rd the price before you take off). $220/DTLA Bikes/425 S Broadway

Forget not: New all-purpose knives We're not suggesting anything new when we remind you of Ross Cutlery & Sharpening Service. The shop has sat in the Bradbury Building for almost a century, and the brothers have owned the place since 1964. Glass-front cabinets hold literally thousands of penknives, pocketknives, buck knives, Swiss Army knives, Leatherman cutters, kitchen knives, swords, daggers and ceremonial collectables that would be more at home in a Twilight movie than in the century-old storefront. Sharpening is $3 per minute/Ross Cutlery & Sharpening Service/310 S Broadway

Acrylic and oil paint kits with free 11x14'' canvas Raw Materials was opened, like so many stores in Historic Downtown, because "there wasn't one here before." Four years later and they're still going strong, with a pug dog named Wonton greeting every customer as they walk in the door. The space specializes in art and architectural supplies, but also provides framing and scanning services (just in case you need to class up the living room by converting all those Battlestar Galactica TV Guide covers into wall hangings). And just in case acrylics don't twist your knob, Wonton has a whole slew of wheels and deals up on the shop blog. Which is impressive, considering his lack of thumbs.$19.99/Raw Materials Art Supply/436 S. Main Street

Hidden goodies: fountain pens Hidden away just off Broadway in an open concrete basement is a store that you might pass by without much notice. It's only open from 11 A.M. to 2 P.M. and swaps out its wares every other week. But for those whose curiosity tempts them inside, there awaits a thrift-store diver's dream – complete with stacks of "historic" newspapers and magazines from the 1960s and a classic metal sit-and-ride horse you might otherwise discover outside a swap meet. But let me point you today to a little box in the corner filled to the brim with classy-looking fountain pens, overflowing (not literally) with color and class. There are over 100 pens in a box with straps. Perfect for a last-second stocking stuff. $20/Storefront Garage Sale/ 214 S Spring St.

Red leather peep-toe pumps by Marc Jacobs: Round 2 is a newcomer to the downtown consignment scene, but you know what they say about young blood. Despite a one-room set up below street level, the shop's selection of pumps, bags, and '60s-style straight-seam dresses adds just enough fizz and bite to stand out in the wake of its hundreds of competitors. The fact that the prices are reasonable (read: low) doesn't hurt either. And that pitbull under the back desk is pretty cute. $22.95/ Round 2 LA

Vintage sterling silver tea set Owner and founder Karen describes Flea as "a flea shop in a storefront," and that's exactly what it is. Flea has everything from 1950s typewriter-desks ($40) to 1920s cloche hats ($19.95) to 1970s-era paintings of Barbies ($12.95, and I have no clue if that's a steal). The selected item (a lovely tea set, shined to the point where it doubles as a mirror) was, honestly, picked almost at random. $11.95/Flea/548 S Spring St

Very last second: $5 for 20 T-shirts We like to think we wouldn't need to mention one of the billion suspiciously low prices you can find for solid color, ring-neck t-shirts down Broadway. But as one of those things you might already be blind to, having passed it everyday, it's worth a second look. Seriously, $5 for 20? Even by Santee Alley standards, that is remarkable. Perfect for decal or a quick silkscreen. Or just wrap your presents with them - they're five bucks! $5/Discount Citi/2622 S Broadway Ave.

Thirty-three variety treat bar Feed your pooch better than you feed yourself with a goody bag from the Pet Project, the one-woman critter supply shop of Spring Street. Ranging from 59 cents to $6 a pop, Nancy Jean supplies bones, rawhides, dental chews, freeze-dried, jerky, and a ton of other treats to satisfy even the most pampered of pets. And if your tastes tilt so far to the specialized zone that you don't see what you need, the owner will order in your dog's diet-buster, delivery free of charge. 0.59 cents to $6/Pet Project/ 548 S Spring St

The $1 paperback The days of the $3 paperback are practically gone, and while they're waining at the Last Bookstore they're still a little more than a footnote. You can grab an armful of these goodies for stocking stuffers, or – for more substantial fare – check out their collection of antiquarian stock. The lobby area is entirely crammed with books for $1 and 90 percent of the store's stock is used. So maybe its appropriate that their set up is so like a library, with overstuffed chairs and peeling furniture and milk crates of obscure 80's hip hop. The shop also routinely hosts open mics and music events, so if you walk in to find a twenty-something in leggings and feathered highlights doing a dramatic interpretation of Tolstoy, don't be surprised. $1/The Last Bookstore/453 S Spring St

What other last-minute gifts have you discovered on Broadway? Let us know below.

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