What to buy:
FABRIC, and discounted designer inspired items for a small fraction of the price. There is every type of fabric that you could imagine here, all on the tall 60" bolts. There are stores that have $1 a yard, or $2 a yard promotions. I love getting $20 fabric for $2. I also found an amazing D&G inspired purse for $40 that I use a lot and it still looks great after 3 years.
What to pay: Bring cash, and get ready to haggle. The more you buy the more they are willing to come down. For example, I wanted 2 yards of fabric and the merchant initially asked for $4/yard. I then haggled and ended up getting 6 yards for $2/yard. I spent $4 more, but I got an additional 4 yards.
Santee Alley, in Downtown LA's Fashion District, is a bazaar-like passageway that stretches several blocks through the neighborhood. Overflowing with designer knock-offs, toys, knick-knacks, bootleg dvds, and even live animals, Santee defies anyone who's described Los Angeles as "suburban".
The Alley seems to have broken it's narrow line in the past few years, and the entire area is rife with discount clothiers. There are fast food chains, push carts, warm churros and even the wholesale fabric shops the area was bred on. Be prepared for a slow slug through the crowds. The area is PACKED with people and is not for the agoraphobic.
What to buy: In addition to the designer knockoff shops, there are also a few legitimate outposts on the Western end of the Alley. Here, you'll pay $50 for a shirt, compared to $15 or $20 a skip away, but you're getting the real deal - and you're getting a steep discount over what you'd pay on Melrose or in Beverly Hills.
I'm also a fan of a custom belt-buckle shop in the Alley. Here, you can have a belt buckle custom-designed for yourself or a friend: it might read "LOSER" or "HO-BAG" in fake diamonds. That's a true Los Angeles gift, don't you think?
What to pay: Cheap, Cheap, Cheap. Expect to pay $5 or less for tee shirts, $2 for socks, and $10 for sunglasses. True designer clothing will run higher, say $30-$40 for a button-down shirt. I'm not sure how much they charge for live turtles or rabbits...you'll have to bargain with them, yourself.
Junky Tijuana crap. The other poster's raved about this shopping area. I went and found it to be extremely dirty and nothing of value. Cheap sunglasses, knock-off brand purses, and very cheap clothing. I find better items at the Orange County Swap Meet. Don't get me wrong, I love a bargin, but this stuff is totally cheap crap. I do not reccomend wasting an afternoon in this area of downtown L.A.
What to buy: Nothing
Shopping in LA doesn't always involve expenisive clothing from Rodeo Drive. Just take a trip to Downtown LA and you will discover a great and cheap place to shop.
The Garment district of LA sells tons of clothing for both men and women at cheap, cheap prices. Granted, it isn't the best quality but when you are paying $5 for a shirt to go out to the bar in, you really can't complain. They also sell cheap maternity clothing and mens wear.
This area is a great area to wander around in. The further north you go the more "districts" you will discover. There is a lso an area for fabrics, jewelry, crafts (beads, wedding favors etc), and flowers. All are withing a 30 minute walk.
What to buy: Cheap clothing for men and women. Also sell discounted maternity clothing.
The downtown area of Los Angeles has a lot to offer people looking for deals. The Fabric district of Los Angeles is a small area of about 5 square blocks selling fabric for apolstery, quilting and clothing at discounted prices. The more you buy the better deal you get.
This area is great to wander around in. I think it gives a perosn a better idea of the people that live in LA. It's not all celebrities and rich people. The further out you wander the more "district" you will discover. There are also areas just selling clothing, flowers, jewelry and crafts all within walking distance.
What to buy: Fabircs for apolstery, clothing, quilting and window treatment at discounted prices.
As for sunglasses, do not buy sunglasses from this area. They actually do permanent damage to your eyes. The cheap sunglasses look the same but the lenses are not manufactured the same and lack the treatments that prevent eye damage. The knockoff sunglasses still allow less light in which makes your pupils dialate more which allows more damaging UV rays into your eyes. This leads to cataracts, blindness, and cancer. There is a reason to pay more for good sunglasses.
Santee Alley is also the city's number one haven for illegal animal sales. Baby bunnies, turtles, birds, puppies and kittens are sold illegally on a daily basis. Animals are kept in filthy conditions, in the glaring sun with no food or water. Many of these animals are sick or dying when they are sold. These activities clearly violate several City codes and often other statutes as well.
The sale of small turtles, under 4 inches, has been banned in the United States since 1975, but this has not stopped people from selling these turtles at Santee Alley. Not only is this an issue of animal cruelty, but also of public safety. Did you know that Salmonella can be contracted by humans from turtles? Salmonella occurs naturally in turtles and does not make them sick. There are many other diseases that can be contracted by humans who touch these animals. Among them are chlamydiosis, TB, arizonosis, and colibacillosis.
What to buy: You can purchase many things but I would NOT buy any ANIMALS nor SUNGLASSES.
What to pay: Initially $1-$50 but losing your eyesight several years before you normally would will hurt your pocketbook in the medical costs. Buying your child a pet that dies a few weeks later will traumatize your child and you'll probably buy another pet to ease their pain and then a viscious cycle is born. Not to mention your child becoming ill by contracting a disease like salmonella from one of these mistreated animals.
The outlets are in Downtown L.A. Santee Alley is a big spot for cheap knock off purses and women's clothing. Some of it looks cheap, some of it's cool. Below is a link to a map of the fashion district:
For a free printed copy of the map: http://lafashion.veplan.net/page.aspx?id=127
North of L.A., in Camarillo is an outlet mall. Camarillo is a better neighborhood and more beautiful area than the Citadel. Not sure if it's deals are any better or worse.
The Citadel is also an outlet option. It's in south east L.A. and closer than Camarillo or Cabazon(Palm Springs):
Cabazon factory outlets near Palm Springs:
Several shops with wholesale prices are lined along Santee St, major ones are part of the infamous "Santee Alley"have to question the authenticity of designer clothing and other products, so buyer beware!
What to buy: clothing, shoes, various household items, electronics, jewelry
Look, if you're looking for bags, watches, jewelry,music, child toys etc...for cheap prices, with a festive environement that's the place. I had a great time overthere, you walk through those streets looking at the merchandise, the vendor aren't agressive at all, of course it's jam packed so if you afraid of crowds go there in the morning before 2pm, it'll be find.
it's kind of like Canal Street in NYC but with Latinos instead of chineese.
by the way i never felt any danger!
What to buy: sunglasses for 5$
Bags for 10-50$
...and so much more
What to pay: Always deal
Santee Alley (or rather TWO alleys) is located in the Financial District in Downtown LA. Here you can find several knock-offs of shoes, purses and clothing, etc. The quality of the items vary and are usually far from ideal, but prices are often negotiable and are significantly lower than at the typical deptartment stores. Shops/stalls often only accept cash, so plan to stop by your ATM prior to coming here.
What to buy: knock-off puses, wallets, belts and shoes. Check clothing carefully, as quality may be compromised to keep costs down. More than likely, you will be unable to try things on.
What to pay: Bargain, bargain, bargain!
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