Louis Vuitton: Luxe Store in Carmel Plaza
Carmel By The Sea Is really a Luxe town! where else can you see a Louis Vuitton Store in a seemingly small hamlet if the area is not that famous or expensive!
Louis Vuitton, the Most Copied Brand (and most sought after brand after Hermes') in the World was Founded by Malletier Louis Vuitton in 1854, never would he realize that it would become a status symbol and a most copied brand in the world! need I need a more thorough explanation?
Louis Vuitton is the Core Company of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy Group (LVMH) which also owns other luxe brands like Tag heuer, Christian Dior, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Fendi, Donna Karan, Hublot, Bulgari and also OWNS THE DFS GALLERIA COMPANY. The Louis Vuitton Brand of the LVMH Company contributes 30% of the Revenues of the Company, inspite of it being the most counterfeited product in the world. It also owns 18% of Hermes'.
What to buy: the Monogram and the Damier Type of Louis Vuitton are the cheapest kinds, if you want the more luxe items that are rarely counterfeited, then buy their Wichita, Suhali, Taiga, Utah Leather which are not easily distinguishable as a louis vuitton since it has barely has the LV Markings. but they costs more than double the regular lines. The regular lines are the Monogram, Monogram macassar canvas, damier, Damier Ebene, Damier Graphite and Damier Geant canvass.
the cheapest type of monogram canvass Bag is the speedy, which is about $475-725, the Damier type of canvass bags start at $1200, the traveller bags start at $ 2,400 and wallets start at $ 350, short wallets start at $ 250 and my favorite belts start at $ 450.
What to pay: Maxxed Out your Platinum or Titanium Credit card. a regular line of Monogram or damier line of Messenger bag costs $ 1,600 while the subtle Tiaga or Utah Leather at 2,600 or more.
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Carmel Plaza: Luxe Shopping Area of Carmel By The Sea
Carmel By The Sea has three strip malls located in the township and this strip mall called Carmel Plaza is the most luxe of them all. It is located at the Ocean Avenue and Mission St at the Downtown Carmel Area. The strip mall is small by other strip mall standards in major suburban centers but what it lacks in size, it pretty compensates for it on the sheer number of designer brands located in the property! Among the Luxe Brands at the Carmel Plaza include: Anthropologie, Bottega Veneta, Cole Haan, Cos Bar, Homescapes Carmel, J. Crew by the Sea, Khaki's of Carmel, Louis Vuitton, Sur la Table, Tiffany & Co., Tommy Bahama, Yves Delorme and more.
Mon-Sat 10 am - 6 pm
Sun 11 am - 5 pm
What to buy: depends on what you want but if you're an el cheapo then just window shop and take pictures around but if you're a serious shopper, be ready to use your credit card like buying Cole Haan Shoes for $ 200, Bottega Veneta Bags at $ 800 or Louis Vuitton Belts at $ 600 and more.
What to pay: maxxed out your platinum and titanium credit cards
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MATERIAL GOODS: CERAMIC GUINEA HENS GALORE
The shops in Carmel-by-the-Sea are all gingerbread styles and Victorian fantasy. That's what makes shopping up and down Ocean Ave so much more enjoyable, especially for the non-shopper like me. My wife, Sue, could shop till she dropped (which she has done) and the ambiance on the streets of Carmel invigorate her to a shopping frenzy pitch.
So, wham, we are browsing windows on Ocean Ave when I, yes, I saw these ceramic Guinea Hens sitting on the wall shelf. The store, Material Goods, was a shoppers delight in accessories for the home. When I like to go into a store, it must look pretty inviting and have something that catches my eye. No browser, but a determined to find what I may want type of person. I browsed like there was no tomorrow. Material goods had me checking out half the stores inventory. No magic potion, no pressure from my wife, just that there were a lot of interesting things to brighten up the home without being overdone. Oh, they had the ladies purses and scarves, which, I must admit, were modern art works. What a neat little boutique in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Be careful if you walk down and around on Ocean Ave, you just may spot something inside Material Goods, like I did.
What to buy: The Caillard Guinea Hens are a treasure find and they come from the Provence area of France. I also spotted a flock of metal sparrows on another shelf that I felt were whimsical and had to have them as well.
What to pay: The ceramic Guinea Hens were expensive at $129 to $159, depending on size. The cute metal sparrows were a steal at $5 each.
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Inago: Maybe My All-Time Most Favorite Store
With no less then three stores around town, it's pretty clear that Inago is the boutique of the moment for Carmelites and it deserves the title. There was almost nothing in the two stores I went in that I wouldn't want. NOTHING! The two stores that I was in were essentially divided into "Casual" and "Formal" and both were equally wonderful.
The "Formal" store has great party dresses, coats, and dress up shoes from some really interesting designers, many of whom I had not heard of. Although not cheap, the atmosphere in both stores was relaxed and low-pressure and wonderful places in which to shop.
Whatever you do, do NOT miss their sales! I got a dress in the casual store that retailed for something like $295 for $29!!! The sales staff was incredibly helpful and it's worth trying something on just to see their fitting rooms--seriously, they were the size of most living rooms.
I just love this place and I'm so grateful they don't have a website so I won't spend money there!
What to buy: Work clothes to casual weekend stuff. Some jewelry, but that wasn't their main focus.
What to pay: Lots, unless you hit their sales and then you can expect to save, save, save!
Ritzy Ragz & Thingz: Yet Another Great Carmel Consignment Shop
Well, in a town full of great consignment shops this one really, really stands out. With a great range of brands from Theory to really seriously high-end stuff like YSL, this is THE place to go if you're looking for something special for a party or big event. It's very, very easy to find something really elegant here as well as a very, very good value. Now, when I say value, I mean you can get a Gucci bag for $300 instead of $3,000--you're not going to walk out with a pair of Pradas for $2.
The store is well organized and the staff is very friendly and helpful (I was interested in a Longchamp bag that was waaaaay up on a high shelf. Even when I said I probably wouldn't be buying it, the sales girl got it down for me.)
My mom and I literally had to leave before we did damage.
What to buy: I'd come here for everything from work clothes to serious dress-up stuff. Great hand bags and shoes as well!
What to pay: You can find a bargain, but you'll have to shell out a bit--the clothing here is high quality.
Mon Amie: Fabulous Consignment Boutique
I can't even say how impressed I was with this consignment store. I realize it's a wealthy area, but still, to me what makes a consignment store great is how discerning or not discerning the "buyer" is and this one has a great eye. She had incredible pieces that ranged from classic vintage coats and shoes to some really cutting edge designers. The owner is constantly around and mingles with the clientele in the best possible way. The day I was there she was trying on hats with everyone and having a great time. It seemed to me as if people came there to socialize as much as purchase things, but I was only there once so I don't know.
I didn't buy anything but only because the things I liked didn't really fit. I would unquestionably make this among my first stops next time.
What to buy: Everything from vintage hats to separates by major designers.
What to pay: Very reasonable--you can easily find something great here for a very reasonable price.
Trouve: The Gorgeousness is Insane
You know how sometimes you'll walk into a home furnishings store and think to yourself that you'd love your house to look like the store? Well, that's Trouve. A really lovely combination of antiques and new items, everything at Trouve looks as if it was chosen with great care whether it's a couch or a small candle. The antiques, I think, are mostly 18th-century French and what isn't an antique is made to look like one. The colors here are subtle--if bright primary colors are your thing, this is not the store for you, but if you like muted, subtle tones, you'll love it. It's a bright, airy store that can give you some great decorating ideas.
Interesting note--this store was started by a mother-daughter team who spent years scrounging around yard sales for great finds. They have a great collective eye and it shows.
What to buy: It's an antiques store so the inventory varies. Anything from French oil paintings to antiques pitchers to baby gifts are the norm here.
What to pay: A lot--this place is NOT cheap. Furniture runs in the thousands.
Carmel Drug Store: A Fabulous Old Drug Store
I know it seems odd to include a drug store, but this one is 100 years old and very charming, not to mention just about the only place in town that's open late if you need something. They carry everything from very, very expensive cosmetics to bottled cokes. The staff is young but incredibly helpful--they went to the ends of the earth to see if they had the bath salts my mom and I wanted.
What to buy: Toiletries, bath products, some small gift items.
The Soiled Dove Bath House: Horrible Name for a Great Store
As repulsive as the name of this store is, the store is fantastic. If you love bath salts, soaps, sachets, creams, lotions, bubble bath, this is the place for you. The proprietress is a lovely, helpful, friendly person who has clearly put a lot of thought and effort into the place. It's really, really charming, and makes you want to go home, paint your bathroom white and never leave the tub. If I weren't so damn allergic to all this stuff I would have made a purchase.
What to buy: All things bathtub-y.
What to pay: A few bucks to lots and lots if you spend a lot of time in the tub.
Knitting by the Sea: For Yarn and a Laugh
If you go here for no other reason than the sign in the window explaining why the owner might be a little late opening the shop every day it's worth it.*
It's a warm, inviting place that has a wonderful selection of yarn, books, and supplies for the knitter, not to mention knitting classes. The day I visited the owner was giving a lesson and seemed incredibly patient. Had I not had such a limited time in Carmel I would have taken one there. It's a lovely, airy place and a great place to spend an afternoon learning how to knit.
*Basically she goes through all the reasons she might be late-traffic, her mother, and a variety of other things--trust me, it's hilarious!
What to buy: Yarn, needles (knitting needles--don't get ideas), books, and the like.
What to pay: A few bucks to however much it costs to make a sweater.
Jan de Luz: For All Linen Freaks
With the exception of an over-zealous staff and the truly overwhelming noise level of the giant embroidery machine, this is a fabulous place. Essentially what they do is take any linen, towel, sheet, apron, hat, whatever, and embroider whatever you want on it. The place has a subtle French theme which is great for Francophiles like me.
If you're not a linen person there are plenty of other things that might appeal--bath salts, soaps, linen shoe inserts (no, I'm not kidding), books, notecards, that's the idea. I actually thought some of the inventory was a little hokey, but it's a great place to get ideas and pick up a really unique present for someone. Also a great place to pick up a baby gift.
What to buy: Mostly linens, aprons, potholders, etc.
What to pay: Generally not cheap--anything from a few bucks to hundreds.
Jane Austen at Home: Great Antiques for those with discerning tastes
Anyone who is a fan of Jane Austen needs to make a point of paying a visit to this store. The woman who runs it is as serious about choosing the perfect objects as Austen was about choosing the right words. Everything in here is either of or looks like something from the Austen era--you almost expect Mr. Darcy to show up at one of the low dinner tables. Lots of dainty tea sets, heavy oil portraits and silver desert forks--you get the idea. This place is not for the weekend flea market scrounger--this is for people who save their pennies and buy one good piece a year.
It is a very, very crowded little place so if it worries you to have to navigate your way through fragile Sheffield and highly breakable wine glasses this isn't your place.
What to buy: Lovely tea cups and saucers, the odd linen, very, very good barware, little trinkets like china boxes and framed silhouettes, etc.
What to pay: Not cheap, but certainly not unreasonable. The prices are high but fair.
Classy Shopping: Without a Price Ticket Shopping
You will not see rails and rails of T-shirts as you walk along the paved streets of Carmel. The only ones I spotted were as part of arty window displays, no price tickets shown - if you have to ask how much it costs - you can't afford it - seems to be the operative principle!
On the whole all the goods displayed, even seen through glass, definitely had a stylish appearance and evident quality.
My sister was pleased to find, in a Villeroy & Boch closing down sale, some reduced items to complete a set she has.
Otherwise more affordable souvenirs can be bought from the swet and chocolate shops.
We are not usually holiday shoppers so did not go round the Carmel Shopping Plaza where a wider price renge of goods is possibly avaialble.
Music Boxes of Carmel: Musical Clocks Extraordinaire
As its name indicates, this shop specializes in music boxes, but what really caught my attention were the musical clocks. These are not the grandfather clocks you remember. Although they resemble antique pendulum clocks, their artistry goes a step further. When they strike the hour, they play entire melodies (Tales from the Vienna Woods, Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, Traumerei), and the painted clockfaces separate into pieces and revolve to the music. Quite beautiful.
As my husband said afterward, "If I had an extra $800, I'd buy one of those."
PIERRE DEUX French Country: FRENCH COUNTRY IN CARMEL
Walking down the main street, Ocean Ave, at the Pine Inn Carmel sits a little bit of France. The Pierre Deux has imported many items from all the regions of France and has a display that invites you to look, touch, and buy.
What to buy: Linens, kitchen supplies, foods, and furniture seem to be the sought after items. I personally prefer the jams of France to purchase.
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