Holiday shopping off of L.A.'s beaten path

We love our shopping malls and big box stores, but sometimes the right place to find a holiday gift is slightly off the beaten path. What follows is a brief survey of a few such establishments:


Four years ago, Mexico City native Beatrice Valenzuela began selling her handmade leather shoes in supple cobalt, oxblood and caramel leathers at the Echo Park Craft Fair, which she founded with textile designer Rachel Craven. Her shoes quickly gained a fashionable following that includes Kirsty Hume, Jenni Kayne, Rashida Jones and Shalom Harlow. At her eponymous boutique in Echo Park, which opened two months ago, her shoes keep company with ceramics, basketry and textiles from her travels. Everything in the store is handmade, including jewelry from local artist Kathleen Whitaker, hardware and lighting from Valenzuela's husband, Ramsey Conder, and leather bags from Samantha Grisdale and Agnes Badoo. 1547 Echo Park Avenue, Los Angeles, 213-986-8914;


Leather coasters from Commune, handmade kelp soap from Big Sur, indigo-dyed shibori blankets made in Los Angeles and vintage bandannas are just a few of the bohemian hostess gifts on offer at the Venice outpost of this San Francisco store. Conceived as a collective design community, the General Store features a mix of new and vintage items crafted by local artisans ranging from braided jewelry from Takara and cult favorite Cosmic Dreamer men's chambray shirts to Earth Tu beauty products, Chemex coffee makers and birch and ink dominoes. 1801 Lincoln Boulevard, Venice, 310-751-6393;


A faint smell of campfire incense greets visitors stepping through the door of RHT2—the newly opened second outpost of Rene Holguin's rustic trading post-cum-fashion boutique RTH. Holguin, who got his start in fashion working for his father's boot-making company in El Paso before stints at Ralph Lauren, J. Crew and Levi's, moved to LA 13 years ago for its "optimism and creative freedom." His singular eclectic vision is on display at RTH2—which stands for Real. Truth. Honest—with brass pencil sharpeners, handmade leather goods such a RTH leather pouch, hand-painted with a Native American design by artist Tom Webb, nylon rope belts and bead and tassel necklaces made in house, or robot sculptures from artist PINT fashioned from scrap and found objects. RTH2 Shop, 529 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood, 310-289-7911;


After a year's hiatus, Turpan returned this summer to the Brentwood Country Mart with a sleek and chic compilation of global finds. Owners Katherine and Greg Turpan, whose flagship store in East Hampton, N.Y., opened over a decade ago, showcase their carefully curated edit of lifestyle goods, where quality is key whether that's a nail file or a Hans Wegner chair. Offerings range from gossamer cashmere scarves from Tibet to handblown Italian glass vases to hand-skived leather goods from Parabellum in West Hollywood. In the mix you'll also find Aesop apothecary goods, dustpans and brushes from Copenhagen and Sigikids plush toys from Bavaria. 225 26th Street, Suite 9, Santa Monica, 310-899-6711;


The latest newcomer to the scene in downtown's Arts District is Alchemy Works, which is part gallery, part boutique and full of design inspiration. "It's a mix of high and low with a saltwater vibe," says Lindsay Parton, who opened the shop with her husband Raan, whose Apolis menswear store is a few doors down. Acacia wood bowls mix with surf photography, vintage surfboards and handmade cruisers from SCI-Arc students. Handmade watches from Weiss, Heidi Merrick silk dresses and DIY indigo kits reflect the mercantile's "Made in California" directive, while apothecary items, scissors and enamel bakeware lend functionality to the edit. But if sky's the limit, take down the top on a 1959 Fiat Abarth Spyder on offer for a cool $78,000. 826 E. 3rd St.,


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