Imagine every market you’ve ever been to… all at once, and you’ll be coming close to what Camden is like, but first, getting there.

The busiest days are on the weekend with most of the shops open, because of this and the influx of around 100,000 people every weekend (and the dire need of an upgrade to the station) Camden Town station is “exit only” for most of it. Check the posted signs or London Underground website before hand for in and out times so you don’t end up trying to push your way against the current and REALLY look like a tourist πŸ˜‰

Rest assured, not all is lost if you cant make it out on a weekend, a fair percentage of the fixed stores are open during the week and will be much more suitable for those that aren’t fond of crowds.

Exiting the station on to Camden High St. you get a plethora of sneakers with JD Sports, Footlocker and Offspring. These are all decent sized stores with plenty of stock, variety and sales. If you’re going to buy up big straight out the gate, consider asking the store to hold your purchases to collect later otherwise you will quickly lose patience and strength trying to get a couple armfuls through the bustling crowd.

Heading north, take your selection of Converse and Dr. Martin stores along with kitsch punk, rockabilly, vintage clothing (Punkyfish, Rokit Vintage), leather goods and a secondhand music and video store.

The Camden markets themselves start just after the river crossing with Camden Lock and The Stables traditionally being THE markets but there are smaller groups of stalls in surrounding lanes and streets. In general its a mixture of fixed stores, large warehouse style areas and temporary pop up stalls that cover all manner of arts, crafts, fashion, food, brick a brac, novelties and souvenirs. There’s really no good place to start or any kind of system to get you round the place with so many things to see (and taste), its more a matter of taking your time and going with the flow (literally most of the time). If things get a little too hectic for you, there’s plenty of nice spots along the water-way to take a breather.

Stand outs were the smaller designer stalls with unique tees (these are the ones that don’t have the same designs as the last 10 stalls you just walked past!) and the cute vintage style dresses. There is a couple places stocking a few toys but the only place worth a mention is a small stall in the Stables hosted by some old dude. Pretty much all vintage items, most rather worn or in boxes that have seen better days. A few Star Wars and He-man items but you will have to get your fingers dirty to really find something amongst the cluttered shelves.

Finally, no visit to the Camden markets would be complete with out visiting Cyberdog. Quite possibly your worse nightmare if your kid brings you here and you have very little knowledge or experience with the dance music scene but for everyone else its pretty much like being at a rave. From the entrance with the giant “people of the future” statues you are bombarded with strobe lights and a barrage of hard style and hard trance. Its very dimly lit apart from neon lights and all manner of glow in the dark and flashing novelties like coloured contacts and light up face “neurons”. The rest covers everything you’ll need for a night of laser reaching with the staples of phat pants and light up tees to full space suits and girls outfits which shakily stumble the line of “cute raver chick” and Fortitude Valley hooker. There is also a good selection of DJ gear (CDJ’s, mixers, headphones etc).

The biggest set back is the pricing, which goes from “whoa!” to “ok, lets get outta here”. Also keep your camera holstered, the staff may look like they’re “best night eva”-ing but be aware of the ones that are already on to their “Terrible Tuesday” (plus there’s “no photo” signs at the entrance and around the store).

From my research there is also supposed to be a “good” sneaker store right near Cyberdog but with very little recent online presence I’d dare say it has since closed as it was no where to be seen.

Since the Camden Town station was exit only, we took a short walk to Chalk Farm Station which was stark quiet in contrast and an easy boarding to head out to our next stop, Shoreditch.

London 2011 part #1 – Arrival, Soho Shopping
London 2011 part #2 – Central London sight seeing
London 2011 part #3 – Chelsea Flower show
London 2011 part #4 – Shopping – Hammersmith
London 2011 part #5 – Shopping – Covent Garden and Soho
London 2011 part #7 – Shopping – Shoreditch
London 2011 part #8 – Hyde park, Piccadilly Circus

London photo gallery here
Chelsea flower show photo gallery here


Haight is one of those suburbs that has a young creative vibe and a slew of quirky shops to match. Sure, you cant swing a stick without knocking the fake glasses or beanie off the -back- of some hipster kid’s head but in general it has the eats of West End and the boutique shopping of the Valley/New Farm in Brisbane. If you’re heading out early (re: before midday) pop into one of the many cafes on Haight St. Most seemed pretty busy so you may be in for a short wait if you’re after a table.

The People’s CafΓ© was right near the bus stop so it was an easy choice πŸ˜‰ Food was quite good, reasonably fast turn around even if the service was a bit average, free WiFi more than likely makes up for it for most people. Judging from recent Yelp reviews this place has since closed, possibly rebirthed under a different guise?

Bellies full it was time to burn some Greenbacks, starting at the Masonic Ave end of Haight st…

Stussy – one of the larger stores we’ve come across but nothing out of the ordinary for the range. They did have a clearance rack with some old school Stussy designs though. Seeing their Stussy “Peace Dollar” vinyl figures on display in all forms of disrepair and missing pieces gave me the warm and fuzzies knowing I had a mint one waiting for me from my LA haul πŸ˜‰

Super 7

Super 7 – local designers obsessed with Star Wars and Anime, they have a good range of their own shirt designs and a small range of toys and books. Shirts are overpriced but there are some fun original designs like the “Weapons of mass destruction” that has a bunch of space ships and vehicles from movies like Star Wars, Tron, Battlestar Galactica etc. Toys and collectibles also fetch a premium, a few odd pieces may have deserved the extra tax but Kidrobot items not so much since the KR store is just across the road.

Super 7

True Sole

True (Sole) – set up like a clearance store, they had some of the cheapest new release sneakers we saw in California with a good $10-20 less than regular retail prices. They also had older models on clearance, just cross your fingers they have your size. There’s also a small selection of clothing and accessories.

California Surplus

California Surplus – Listed as the sister store to the one in LA, this one was mostly focused on the surplus side of things rather than the work wear. They still had a small selection and thanks to a misjudgment on clothing for the day, a pair of overpriced Dickies pants were a life saver.

Shoe Biz II

Shoebiz II – This second store leans more towards the sneaker niche market. A few rarities along with clearance items on footwear and clothing. This was the only place at the time that I saw the Nike Air Vengeance‘s in “maize”, didn’t have to tell me twice πŸ˜‰

Shoebiz 1 – Caters more towards women’s shoes and boots, plenty of stock but you will have to battle a thousand other women as it didn’t seem like there was a time it wasn’t packed.

Adidas Originals – up the Willy Wonker glass elevator from Shoebiz 1 is a small selection of Originals gear leaning towards the more outlandish designs and colours. The clearance bin is always a welcoming sign and this one had an out of production Adicolor jacket for $40USD *yoink* along with some sneakers and a few other bits and pieces. If you’re looking for range you’re better off heading to the Adidas store in the Westfield in the city.

Kidrobot – pretty much the same as the LA store apart from a couple older Michael Lau figures. More fuzzies when I notice they were selling for $150-200, 10 times what I paid for mine πŸ˜‰

Loyal Army

Loyal Army – and then there was one. This is their only retail store left now, not in short due to a decline in their designs from cute and kitschy to trying too hard to be “now”. In saying that there was plenty of multi-buys and clearance items to be had.

FTC skate – renowned for knowledgeable and friendly staff, this is a good sized store with decent range of all things skate related.

Amoeba Music

Amoeba Music – Not having time to make it to the one in LA I was really looking forward to popping in here, and it didn’t disappoint. Wall to wall, floor to ceiling of music. Its what iTunes would look like if it was a real store, just with less thieves and a more user friendly environment πŸ˜‰ It took well over an hour just to paw through the electronic music and hiphop (with a quick detour through punk) for a yield of about 35 cds, so make sure you put aside the right amount of time proportioned to your musical appetite.
Since these cds were going to be shipped back with the bulk of our haul, I stripped the cases to save some weight. The guys were only too happy to take the empty cases back (:


The two major stops for the downtown area were the Westfield and Nike Flagship store. The Westfield was unfortunately a fruitless experience even with Champs, Footlocker, Vans and Lids on the directory save a store exclusive track jacket from the multi-level Adidas store. A couple doors down at Shiekh’s had a much better result with a large range of clearance items and new range footwear and clothing, easily one of their bigger stores too. Jordan Rare Airs were a steal at $60USD.

The Nike Flagship store, while in all intent and purposes was very similar to just about every other one in other cities fell short because of this. If you’ve been to one you’ve been to them all as the stock was almost identical to that in LA.

Next up we head to the two (little)lands of the orient, Japantown and Chinatown.

Milpitas 2011 – Great Mall
Yosemite 2011 part #1 – LA to Oakhurst via Bakersfield
Yosemite 2011 part #2 – Yosemite National Park
San Francisco 2011 part #1 – Arrival
San Francisco 2011 part #2 – Shopping – Haight, Downtown SF
San Francisco 2011 part #3 – Chinatown
San Francisco 2011 part #4 – Japantown
San Francisco 2011 part #5 – Alcatraz
San Francisco 2011 part #6 – Fisherman’s wharf, Golden Gate Bridge

Complete Yosemite 2011 photo gallery here
Complete San Francisco 2011 photo gallery here


Milpitas is probably an unlikely stop for most travellers with it being over shadowed by San Jose in the south or Oakland in the north for stops on the way to San Francisco but when there’s a place called the “Great Mall” we couldn’t resist taking an overnight detour.


We took the 120 out of Yosemite to the 205 then the 680 which pretty much dropped us right at our hotel, The Marriot TownePlace Suites, which we strategically planned due to it being directly across the road from the Mall.

The day started off with a free continental style breakfast which for me included a portioned cup of the now extinct in AU, Corn Pops. Memories of eating them for dinner at uni came flooding back and it was a sign it was going to be a good day (:

Getting to the centre within the first hour of opening on a weekend day is definitely the way to go. No problems with getting a covered park right near an entrance and it’s a casual stroll for a good hour or two before the crowds start rolling in. It opens from 10am Mon-Sat. so you even get a nice little sleep in.

So to the shopping… with over 200 stores I guess it can lay claim to the “Great”ness but where to start? Since there were so many stores I’m going to refer back to the mall directory to help me remember them all and list them alphabetically.

The Nike factory store is a good place to start, big variety and I must say we bought more here than at Citadel. Cortez’s = $35USD, girls Airmax 90 = $30USD, Omar Salazar SB’s = $35USD *yoink* plus an array of apparel and tee’s at throw away multi-buy prices.

Reebok also has an outlet store and then there are the usual mall suspects, Champs, Converse, Finish Line, Journeys, Shiekh Shoes, Sports Authority and Vans. Footlocker gets a special mention as this one seemed to be one of their few clearance stores. Normal fair up front but at the back it was pile after pile of mismatched boxes, pairs and markdown on top of markdown stickers. For the most part there was a reason why most were reduced but there were some diamonds in that rough, biggest problem was finding how much they were. This thankfully paid off when a pair of Punkrose Retro Hi-Tops purchased, basically the bastard child of Chuck Taylor and Vans. Going by the reduced tickets and percent off markings, the guesstimation came to about $20 down from $100. Not bad at all right? Not even close, the sales guy stumbled back wide eyed before calling his colleagues over. While we were thinking…”Oh great we’re gonna have to put these back”, he turns the register readout around to show… $2.17 inc tax. What??? He even got the manager to check and sure enough that was the price! Free lunch then (: This further enforces my claim that the internet is not the best place for bargains πŸ˜‰

$2.17 inc tax!

After that, seeing items on sale just wasn’t the same, after all, its no $2.17! But we continued no less. Sanrio and Toys R Us were the only major places for toys though there were a couple places with a limit selection of anime and game related merch. Sears has an appliance outlet store if you’re chasing down some cheap Aldi-esque appliances.

What mall stop for us would be complete without a Wetzel’s Pretzels stop? Yep, just so happens there is one here too πŸ˜‰ and it has stolen the torch for best pretzel’s ever. The fresh pretzel bites were a cut and a half (no pun intended!) above all the other stores we’ve tried, deeeelicious.

All pretzelled and bargained up we waddle out to the car and hit the road once more for our final USA stop, San Francisco!

Milpitas 2011 – Great Mall
Yosemite 2011 part #1 – LA to Oakhurst via Bakersfield
Yosemite 2011 part #2 – Yosemite National Park
San Francisco 2011 part #1 – Arrival
San Francisco 2011 part #2 – Shopping – Haight, Downtown SF
San Francisco 2011 part #3 – Chinatown
San Francisco 2011 part #4 – Japantown
San Francisco 2011 part #5 – Alcatraz
San Francisco 2011 part #6 – Fisherman’s wharf, Golden Gate Bridge

Complete Yosemite 2011 photo gallery here
Complete San Francisco 2011 photo gallery here

On the road again...

After nearly a week of LA driving, I was quite looking forwarded to hitting the open road with minimal traffic and doing the speed limit for more than just sporadic bursts. For the most part this wasn’t the case, thanks to convoy after convoy of semi trailers but having multiple wide lanes made it bearable.

We headed up the #5 through plenty of vast open plains and rolling hills to Bakersfield. Apart from the scenery there wasn’t much else, even the gas stations were slim so make sure you have plenty in your tank before heading off.

Valley Plaza Mall - Image courtesy of

Bakersfield was on the pit stop list for two reasons, the first being the Valley Plaza Mall off highway 99. The locals may not think much of it but it’s a great one stop mall with a lot of your favourite stores with small city prices and sales.

Three Footlockers, two Journeys and a Champs get the ball rolling for sneakers while there’s Mainland Skate for skate and surf gear. Purely by coincidence there is also a Wetzel’s Pretzels πŸ˜‰

The major retailers are what you would expect, Target, Forever 21, JC Penny, Macy’s and Sears.

The second reason for our stop is of course it being Nu-metal band Korn‘s home town and the renaming of a small street for them. There was surprisingly little info online about this but that didn’t deter us from driving around in circles. Be warned though, creeping slowly through back alleys and circling empty carparks and service entrances WILL lead you to being tailed by police. Thankfully we weren’t driving a white Bronco, things could’ve ended quite differently otherwise. So we came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t there anymore. Further research however shows the town may have backed out on the renaming altogether or maybe some kids just taxed it. Either way, best not to waste your time.

I could probably go ahead and add a third item to the list and that would be the hot rod meet up at a small shopping center that we passed on the way in.

After Bakersfield the only other major stop is Fresno. With time slipping away from us we decided to “stay on” instead of “get off” (yes it’s a Speed reference :p ). From the freeway it all looks pretty same-y as you pass the small towns peppered through out the darkness with fields of carparks surrounding strip malls, all under the glow of fluorescent lighting makes for some eerie moments in the dead of night.

The lanes will lessen and the traffic will thin and you will finally arrive at the little mountain town of Oakhurst. Roughly about 4-5 hour drive but with stops and traffic you’re looking at closer to 7-8.

Travel tip: If you pull in to a town/city for a pit stop it is best to fill up as there are no gas (petrol) stations accessible/visible from the freeway.

Oakhurst - Yosemite NP in the distance

We stayed at the Best Western review here for a few hours sleep before heading up and over the mountain range of Yosemite national park.

Staying at Oakhurst may save you a few dollars and some time off the initial drive but it does mean it’s a little longer to get to the park the following day. However if you play your cards right, its not that bad. It’s a given that the warmer months are when the park is at its busiest, so choosing an off season date will avoid some traffic and crowds, but generally you’ll want to leave yourself about 2hours to get there from Oakhurst, just to be safe. The distance isn’t that much but once you get to the mountain roads it will be slow moving thanks to inconsiderate drivers/sight-seers that don’t pull over to let traffic pass. Restrictive speed limits don’t help much either.

Travel tip: The entrance is still about 30-45min from the valley floor. When you arrive, make sure you have cash for the park entrance fee which is $20 per vechicle. Motorcycles, bicycles or if you’re travelling on foot its $10

Next up is the Yosemite national park, darn tootin!

Milpitas 2011 – Great Mall
Yosemite 2011 part #1 – LA to Oakhurst via Bakersfield
Yosemite 2011 part #2 – Yosemite National Park
San Francisco 2011 part #1 – Arrival
San Francisco 2011 part #2 – Shopping – Haight, Downtown SF
San Francisco 2011 part #3 – Chinatown
San Francisco 2011 part #4 – Japantown
San Francisco 2011 part #5 – Alcatraz
San Francisco 2011 part #6 – Fisherman’s wharf, Golden Gate Bridge

Complete Yosemite 2011 photo gallery here
Complete San Francisco 2011 photo gallery here

“1337 AIR” fictitious ad campaign

I’ve finally gotten a chance to start working on shots of sneakers from the holiday haul. For a bit of fun, I’ve conjured up some fictitious ad campaigns to go along with them. To get the ball rolling, we have these Nike Airforce 1 lows in medium grey “microperferated” leather and a clear grey gum sole.
Subtle enough to sneak (ha!) into work attire yet still with enough pop to stomp on some keyboards!

Try and respawn from that ya little….!

Expect to see many more of the holiday pickups peppered through out this blog in the coming months!

Stepping out of the hotel, those Arctic winds still can catch you unaware even near the end of March. If you’re travelling round this time of year, keep your softshell on you at all times. Trust me, you’ll thank me for it. Your other senses like your smell might also take a hit from the Air de City Pollute’. Some say its like someone set fire to the Valley (Brisbane), a smoke filled aroma ballasted with rich exhaust fumes, road grime, a dash of hot garbage with a hint of urine. But like any over populated city in the world be it London, Hong Kong or Sydney, its more an expected garnish than an obstacle. Still, would it kill the street vendors to clean their frying grills once every 5 years?? Note, that “seasoning” is added to your – charcoal outside, old tyre rubbery inside pretzel too. Best to stick to retail chains if you want something that resembles bread. The hotdogs are a little better albeit rather small and for $3USD (quite possibly inflated due to the pre-included tourist tax) you can easily find something more filling. Contrary, those roasted peanuts and cashews are absolutely delish and work great as a temp. hand warmer!

When it comes to shopping however, there’s very few cities that come close to NYC, especially when it comes to “street” culture and a weak US dollar. Larger shopping centres and thrift stores like Walmart are off the list in Manhattan but for everything else, you’ll find it here.

We started towards Uptown with Nintendo world – a multi storey store with, you guessed it, everything Nintendo, right down to a mini museum of retro consoles, controllers and portables. Remember to check with the store clerk when buying games, some American versions wont work on AU consoles.

Nintendo world NYC

THE NBA Store a little further north – if you’ve ever had a passing interest in the game then this is the store for you. It has everything to do with basketball; memorabilia, uniforms, apparel, the works; even a life size Lego version of Celtics’ big man, Kevin Garnett. Sneaker wise however its rather limited to sport shoes, no retro or “street” style releases. You can however get a bit of a dose a couple blocks up at Niketown.

NBA Store

While not the mecca some would like it to be, Niketown still has enough oo’s and ahh’s to deserve a good look through, just don’t expect any retros or rarities, in fact nothing that isn’t a current model. They did have a small sale section which had a couple odd/older models and colourways but nothing to write home about. The floors are divided into sporting applications with the ones to note being the basketball level – complete with a display case of every Air Jordan all in a white with red trim colourway and life size Lebron James mannequin. Top floor is the most interesting with the Nike iD studio, wall of sneakers piled behind glass in the change rooms, ceiling art made entirely of white sneaker soles and our new favourite sub-brand “6.0“, targeted at the crowd that spends any amount of time upside down in the air with some kind of sporting equipment.

Niketown NYC - Air Jordans

Niketown NYC

The piece de resistance of the store however would be the very Futurama/Jetsons style tubing that whisk your boxed sneakers from the basement to and from the levels and registers. Cool? Way.

Niketown NYC

Also up that way is the Apple store for you Lemmings ;p and a few blocks north is Dylan’s Candy bar for those with a sweet tooth.

Getting back down to mid-town is as easy as jumping on one of the many buses travelling on 5th Av. If you don’t have a Metrocard make sure you have those Quarters ready as they don’t take notes!

Back to Times Square you’ll be hard pressed to miss Footlocker, Journey, Modell’s and Champs. All with a huge range of models and colours and plenty of items on sale as well. Footlocker had the biggest range and had a lot of the winterized boots on special being end of season. Plenty of other clothing items too including jerseys, singlets, hoodies and tees all reduced, some down to single figures! Girls will need to look no further when they can get a Mets game jersey as a nighty for $20US (yes yes, its still the Mets but you’re sleeping in it, not wearing it to a game!).

Journey’s, as on the west coast has a more alternate/skate range with a wide selection of Dr. Martins, Converse and Vans. They also had a good assortment of Adidas (Superstars and similar skate models).

Modell’s reminded me a bit of Rebel Sport for some reason, possibly the layout, possibly the exuberant prices on some items. Sneaker-wise the selection is similar to Rebel sport, only current models and an unusual selection at that, mostly in the sporty vain. Where they differ is they also have sporting equipment, work wear and jeans. Work wear in the way of Dickies and the like are average priced, possibly a bit on the high side but the jeans are a steal for $10-20US for Mecca Apparel and similar.

Finally Champs is like a smaller version of Footlocker but they had a few “in between” models that Footlocker didn’t. They also had many items on sale, some being cheaper than Footlocker.

The best thing about these stores is they’re open till 11pm-midnight some cases 1am so if you get back to your hotel and realise you just HAD to have those 2010 Spiz’ikes then it’s a only a short walk back to buyer remorse heaven.

Heading south down Broadway take a right on 34th-35th and pop into the Kmart for some bargain clothing or travel amenities. Probably not everyone’s choice of a must see, but for licensed game apparel on clearance its worth a look. Knicks sleepwear, Yankees tee’s, jerseys, jackets etc fill several clearance racks along with the standard “Dad” affair at a fraction of the cost, it was perfect for souvenirs. The work wear re: Dickies were some of the cheapest non-sale prices we came across at around $20US for pants and $13 for shorts. Just hope its after they’ve received an order as a lot of the sizes and colours were non-existant.

About half a block further is B & H Photo for all your camera bits and pieces.

Back east passing Madison Square Garden (say Hi to Spike and Jack for me) and over Broadway, pass another Footlocker and another Forever 21 (the American Supre/Jay Jays, yes, keep walking) is one of our fave one-stop shops, Dr. Jay’s. If you’re into hiphop clothing then this is the place for you. Every major brand is covered from LRG to Adidas to Lacoste and the unintentional brands like The Northface, its all covered. Caps on street level, a level for menswear then a level of women’s wear. They also have an ok selection of sneakers, some with decent reductions, especially out of season stuff like the Nike winterized Spiz’ikes and Goadomes. Both were the cheapest we saw for $100-120US, so it went with out saying that the Spiz’ikes found a new home. Good selection of work wear and one of the few places that we saw in Manhattan that sold Dickies Girls. For those girls looking for black pants that actually fit them, try the Bullpant or Lowrise models, you’ll never look back πŸ˜‰

Nike Air Jordan winterized Spiz'ikes

Most of the other clothing was all around standard retail prices though there were quite a few models that we didn’t see anywhere else. Some of their range is available online with some great sale items, at the moment the deal is sweetened with a 20% off all orders over $100. With the AUD at almost 1:1 its definitely worth a quick browse, Dr. Jay’s.

Around the corner is the Empire state building but brave the lines, wait and security at your own peril. More on that later.

Down to W30th Street between 7th and 8th is one of the best anime, toy and collectibles shops that we came across in NYC, Image Anime. They have a very respectable range of figures (inc. Revoltech and Figma), busts, models, Manga, clothing and general knick knacks from all your fave anime and animated shows. Just take caution when buying large or boxed items, you’re suitcase space will disappear very quickly. Also remember that some of the more fragile items will have to go in your carry on, so even less room there. Personal experience acquired from purchasing an 18″ hard plastic Gloomy Bear. At <$30US it seemed like a good idea at the time but when it couldn't fit into any bags and had to be carried separately everywhere it got very annoying very fast! The final point of interest for florists and wedding organisers on W25th between 6th and 7th is the famous event organiser, Preston Bailey. Absolutely stunning work but with an office on the 30th floor and no visible street level show room, its all appointment only, if you can afford him!

Preston Bailey

Next up we swap the concrete jungle for an actual jungle. Ok its more like a woodlands at best, but we’re they’re to see the animals not the trees at the Bronx Zoo!

Times Square NYC

New York City 2010 part #1 – The flight in…
New York City part #3 – Bronx Zoo
New York City part #4 – Sight seeing – Manhattan
New York City part #5 – Sight Seeing – Brooklyn Markets and Gardens
New York City part #6 – Shopping: Soho

New York City photo gallery here

If you missed the first part of our LA adventures, check them out here

Sunset Blvd

Keep on cruisin down Melrose and you’ll come across a skate shop – few less clichΓ© skate items/brands and a few Nike SB items; Fat Beats for your hiphop music needs; forget trying to find the Footlocker, its gone but is still listed in directory searches; plenty of little boutique clothing and jewellery stores; then a few metres right, into N Fuller Av is JapanLA. As the name suggests, they stock cutsie Japanese inspired fashion, mostly Tokidoki but with more variety and generous sale items. There’s even boxes of clearance items at the back, hello Gloomy Bear figures for $7. The staff are very friendly and very easy on the eyes πŸ˜‰ They also stock Mr. Egg and Mr. Toast! ^__^
Shopping in between season means you get winter bargains like Tokidoki hoodies for $30-40US. Winner!

The vinyl obsession continues a couple doors down with Munky King. This store is set up more like an art gallery than a retail store. Minimal lush fittings and an art space towards the rear of the store. They stock a big range of the usual Kidrobot and associate style vinyls as well as a few other more obscure designs and artists. There’s also a small selection of apparel. Definitely the place to visit if you’re getting sick of Dunnys or Labbits.

On the subject of vinyls and similar toys/action figures, be ready to pull them out of your carry on at American customs, especially those with small parts like Revoltech figures. Thanks to the unusual shapes and small parts, under the x-ray machine they tend to come up as “unknown”.

The shops start to thin off after this, but hook a left into La Brea for a couple of LA’s colourful landmarks. First is Pink’s Hot Dogs, no, not the singer but just as famous with many celebrities choosing to pop in for a quick bite and also being featured in many movies and TV shows. We weren’t disappointed when we walked passed and saw a banner “Pink’s welcomes David Hassellhoff“. Sure enough, The Hoff was there slingin dogs to a line half way down the block. Though a long line up is hardly out of the norm and is classed as part of its charm. We didn’t have time to sample the cuisine but all reports say its worth the wait.

Pink's Hotdogs on La Brea Hollywood

If you didn’t want to wait for food there’s a few fast food places including Macca’s as you head north on La Brea. Couple blocks on, you’ll also come across a Best Buy (like a cross between Office Works and Harvey Norman) and a group of shops including Target. In this centre, if you walk up the stairs to Target, there’s a landing where you have a clear view of the Hollywood sign. Perfect if you aren’t going up in the hills to check it out. Photographer’s tip: for a nice big shot of the sign – point and shoot users – you’ll need at least a 10x zoom; dslr users – 200mm is ok but 300mm if you want to fill the frame. Another photo op is available on Sunset Blvd at the intersection looking west at sunset (they don’t call it that for nothing!) against a backdrop of the clichΓ©d palm tree lined street.

Hollywood sign

A block and a bit further you’ll come across everyone’s favourite tattooist, Kate Von D and her famous LA Ink store aka High Voltage Tattoo. If you’re familiar with the TV series, the store is just as crazy in real life with wall to wall decorations of memorabilia, varies knick knacks and art pieces. Even if you only have a passing interest in the pierced and painted, simply hanging round the store sees all matter of subjects from the quirky to the down right weird! Good luck getting an appointment on short notice tho!

If you’re Google mapping, search for “High Voltage Tattoo” which is the actual store, “LA Ink” shows up as its studio which is further down the block.

LA Ink - High Voltage Tattoo on La Brea, Hollywood

Beginning of Hollywood walk of fame

About 4 blocks after that and passing Jim Henderson’s Muppet Studio, you’ll hit Hollywood Blvd, which is the start of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and home to iconic landmarks such as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Madame Tussauds, Ripley’s Believe it or not and Capitol Records Tower.

Hollywood Blvd

There are also plenty of tacky tourist shops on this strip, but the pricing for the most part is reasonable and you can pick up multiple souvenir tee’s for $10US. Just check their quality first, even though the design might be the same, the consistency of the shirts tend to vary.

Hollywood Blvd

By now you’re probably just about spent but if you’ve still got a couple bucks left in your wallet and the shopping bags haven’t completely severed your fingers off, jump in a cab and head to the Beverly Center
On the cheap: find a bus that goes all the way down N La Brea to W 3rd St then get another that goes from there out to La Cienega Blvd.

The Beverly Center is probably the closest you’ll find to Brisbane’s own Myer center. Couple large higher end Department stores like Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s and then the countless specialty shops with the majority leaning towards female shoes and apparel. There is a cinema and food court on the top level but the real reason to head here is for the view. There’s an outdoor courtyard on the top level with a nice broad 180 degree view of LA.

Photographers tip: bring a tripod to set on a chair to shoot over the glass partition or a point and shoot to sit on top of one of the frame if you’re shooting at night to get pass the reflections, unless of course you carry a black bed sheet around!

LA at night - view from the Beverly Center (click for big)

In the way of sneakers you have a choice of 2 sporting stores Champs and Finish Line and 1 specialist (on the top floor level 8 ) Shiekh Shoes and Footlocker (floor 6). While only Shiekh Shoes has a selection of slightly more obscured models and colourways the real benefit is they all have a good selection of items on sale at great prices. 2 pairs of Adidas Attitudes for $50US? Don’t mind if I do! The Footlocker here is quite large as well so there’s a chance you’ll find a few extra colourways.

Useless fact: In the movie “Volcano” they have scenes when the center was still under construction.

By now, you’ll probably be as broke and broken as we were. We contemplated paying $50 for a cab back to Santa Monica but with a bus stop on the corner, we caught one up La Cienega Blvd to Santa Monica Blvd, got some booze and aspirin from the CVS drug store and then another bus all the way back out to 4th street in Santa Monica for a fraction of the cost.

Back in Santa Monica we hit the hay so we could hit boardwalk the next day.

Next up… Santa Monica and Venice Beach!
Los Angeles holiday photos here

Los Angeles part #1 – West Hollywood
Los Angeles part #2 – West Hollywood(pt 2)
Los Angeles part #3 – Santa Monica and Venice Beach Shopping
Los Angeles part #4 – Santa Monica and Venice Beach Sightseeing