Stylists and interior designers have long been coming to a handful of vintage and antiques stores tucked along Venice's Abbot Kinney Boulevard — and now Lincoln Boulevard — to find one-of-a-kind pieces and specialty items for magazine spreads, cutting-edge ad campaigns and celebrity clients. These are the gems that no one else has, that often come with a back story and can become the most coveted and personal pieces in your home. All of these shops focus on the "formerly owned" and are within walking distance of one another — although some might consider it a long walk. A bike with a basket for carrying your bounty is highly recommended.
1108 Abbot Kinney Blvd., (310) 314-2101
This eclectic shop, which showcases a varied mix of antique furniture, vintage clothing and jewelry, also specializes in French pieces from the 1940s. Tina Wakino opened the store in 1998, while she was importing and selling furniture from France. "Having a retail space just seemed natural at the time," she says. Her favorite pieces in the shop when we visited: a pair of antique square club chairs and an industrial worktable with small seats that swing out, although the 1920s French canoe that hangs over the register is such a favorite it is no longer for sale. "It has become our mascot," she says. Coming soon: the Bazar Annex on Westminster Avenue, also in Venice. "It's just a little space that I plan to dedicate to art, home accessories, furnishings and textiles. I'm excited about the new space and all the additional goodies I can showcase."
The Perfect Piece
1216 Abbot Kinney Blvd., (310) 581-1002
Jay "Mad Dog" Jay opened the Perfect Piece "a long time ago," he says, when there were still between 15 and 20 vintage and antique stores in the neighborhood. "At one time we were meeting to establish ourselves as a vintage district," says Jay. "Now there are just a few of us." His store is housed in half of a bright blue cottage. He carries an eclectic mix — lighting, furniture, guitars and anything else that he finds interesting. His favorite recent merchandise: a 1950s era vintage mirror that has been both etched and painted with a pinup girl and two Impressionist nudes painted by 20th century artist and film set designer Ben Carré.
Venice Vintage Paradise
2304 Abbot Kinney Blvd., (310) 968-9904
Jeanie Reynolds set up shop 10 years ago on Abbot Kinney Boulevard but recently moved to a much larger space with new partner Sal Torres across from the French Market Café. The inventory of this eclectic space is constantly shifting, with a variety of midcentury furniture, antiques, home accessories, art, textiles, vintage outdoor pieces, tabletop décor, pottery, linens and more. The shop is known for an expansive collection of vintage blankets and has a loyal following of stylists and editors on the hunt for original pieces.
The Mart Collective
1600 Lincoln Blvd., (310) 450-5142
This space is more than 16,000 square feet, boasts more than 100 dealers and could be considered the mother ship of area antiques dealers. The collective opened in 2013 and is run by Robin Messick and Anthony Hudson, former managers of the Wertz Brothers Antique Mart in Santa Monica, which closed in 2013. "We have anything from vintage buttons, costume jewelry, silverware, books and postcards to iconic midcentury furnishings, country decor and old industrial school furniture and accessories," says Messick. Some of the dealers are specialists and others generalists, which adds to the variety and depth of the business. Most unusual piece to date: a 6-foot diameter light fixture made from the metal struts of a car (it sold in just a few days to a set decorator). "We never know what's about to come through the door," Messick adds.
1701 Lincoln Blvd., (310) 968-9904
The newest addition to the vintage scene in Venice is Vintage Link. Opened by Jeanie Reynolds and Sal Torres, owners of Venice Vintage Paradise, just three months ago, the shop is what Reynolds refers to as a more curated version of their shop on Abbot Kinney. "It's really a space to show people the most special things we find, Reynolds said. There is an extensive collection of midcentury pottery, rugs and textiles as well as some one-of-a-kind pieces. They also have a small collection of '70s shag rugs and a variety of coffee and side tables.
H. Bleu Vintage & Reclaimed
2124 Lincoln Blvd., (310) 396-6266
It's easy to miss this shop, which is tucked back on Lincoln next to an Arco station, but when you get there it doesn't disappoint. Susan Lennon, a former caterer and jeweler, opened her business in 2011. She has a flair for industrial vintage and antique pieces but also carries a nice selection of antique furniture and outdoor and garden pieces as well as lighting and accessories. She offers original pieces as well as refurbished options. Her favorites in the shop during a recent visit: prison bunk beds, early wooden elevator doors and a pile of more than 120 old law books. "There's always something really interesting around the next corner. This business never gets boring."