For many of us, this holiday season is about finding new ways to enjoy familiar traditions. Your gift list might look different as you plan smaller gatherings, organize stay-at-home celebrations, send care packages to loved ones you can’t see in person and search for special treats to bring extra cheer after a difficult year. Your shopping trips might feel different in this era of social distancing and public health precautions. The places you shop may be different, too, operating with new safety procedures in a challenging economic climate.
Now more than ever, it’s important to stay connected as a community and support the local businesses that give our neighborhoods their unique character. Fortunately, in and around Toluca Lake we’re blessed with an abundance of options to fulfill all our shopping needs. From boutique fashion to luxe housewares, much-needed self-care, gourmet food and drink, fun toys and crafts, and much more, you’ll find something to brighten the holidays for everyone on your list (plus a few must-haves for yourself). And with most businesses offering online sales, individual appointments, curbside pickup, home delivery, gift cards or other creative alternatives, you can enjoy friendly and personalized service whether you’re browsing a charming corner store or relaxing at home.
Here’s a very small sampling of the many local shopping sources available to help you spread comfort and joy this season and beyond. Then, check out our gift guide for expert recommendations from some of our favorite local businesses on this year’s most popular items.
Editor’s note: As conditions may change, please check with individual businesses for the latest updates on their operating hours, available services, and health and safety precautions prior to your visit.
Toluca Lake Village
Start your shopping in the heart of our neighborhood with a stroll (real or virtual) down Riverside Drive. For unique, high-quality gear designed for infants, babies, toddlers and growing families, check out Little Sprout’s collection of strollers, car seats, high chairs, bassinets and more. à la Mutt is the favorite destination for pets of Toluca, featuring collars and leashes, toys and treats, and professional grooming services. At women’s lifestyle boutique Rose & Sage, shop a carefully curated collection of premium apparel, shoes and accessories for all ages, ranging from affordable to high-end. Pick out a sparkling treasure at Generales & Generales Fine Jewellers for that extra-special someone, then continue to Pergolina for one-of-a-kind gifts, home goods and accessories from local and international artisans, reflecting a modern, European-inspired aesthetic. Cap it all off at Spin the Bottle with some handpicked small-production artisanal wines (beers and ciders, too!) for the gourmands on your list. And on Sunday mornings, stop by the Toluca Lake Farmers Market for handmade apparel, jewelry, candles, soaps, prepared foods and other handicrafts.
You’ll find plenty of gift ideas in this retro-hip district known for its vintage, resale, collectible and antique stores. The quaint, comfortable Bell Cottage stocks stationery, games and puzzles, home décor, jewelry, art, candles and more. Beauty enthusiasts will go gaga for the bright lipsticks, cake mascara, loose powder and cream rouge at Bésame Cosmetics, which puts a modern spin on the simple glamour of yesteryear with meticulously designed, historically inspired, locally produced makeup. At Blast From the Past, peruse a wall-to-wall selection of toys, T-shirts and collectibles from movies, television and comic books, past and present, for fans of all ages. The aptly named Stay Home Friend (formerly Mindfulnest) is a fun, modern gift store specializing in handcrafted items from local artisans, including cards, totes, housewares and self-care. And domestic bliss is also the theme at Tansy, which celebrates home, nature and creativity with an eclectic collection of distinctive art and décor pieces, plus plants and succulent arrangements.
Hobbyists young and old can keep busy with the array of model planes, trains, automobiles, Gundam and anime figures, and other projects and collectibles at Burbank’s House of Hobbies. Comic-book fans, meanwhile, will relish the vast selection of titles at House of Secrets, which also carries graphic novels, toys and collectibles. Lovers of all things cute adore the stationery, toys and other kawaii merch from Neko Stop, with an emphasis on cat-themed items. And you’ll find something for just about everyone at Zamba, an eclectic gift boutique with Latin flair offering clothing, books, jewelry, knickknacks, candles and more.
At Epicurus Gourmet, you’ll walk into a foodie wonderland featuring high-end products from Europe and around the world, including cheese, charcuterie, vinegars, pasta, spices and salts, jam, chocolate and much more. Head a little farther west to Valley Village to find Greenwood, which offers gorgeous plants, gardening gear and artisan pottery plus a well-curated collection of gifts. Bookworms will be in heaven at The Iliad Bookshop, one of the largest used bookstores in the L.A. area with more than 150,000 volumes in stock, covering all subjects but focusing on literature and the arts. For sophisticated minimalist home goods at accessible prices, make an appointment at MidcenturyLA, which specializes in European/Scandinavian and American midcentury modern vintage furniture, lighting, pottery, art and design. Complete the cozy mood with a stop at Teapop, which sells loose-leaf tea and all the accessories to brew it up, plus fun gift sets like DIY boba and Vietnamese coffee kits.
This walkable stretch of mom-and-pop shops and cafes is a destination for fashion mavens seeking unique, on-trend clothing and accessories, including Diana’s Boutique (don’t miss the $10 earrings), Gramercy Boutique (check out the leather goods and handbags), Hoity Toity (handmade vintage-inspired clothing by designer Ann Booth), Limelight Boutique (shoppers love the yoga apparel) and Verona by Jeni B (which even sells chains to stylishly support your face mask!). You’ll find a little bit of everything at Scentsabilities, including candles, crystals and stones, jewelry and clothing, all with a romantic bohemian flair. Browse Serendipity Gift Shop’s assortment of whimsical treasures for home goods, books, kids’ items, beauty and wellness products, and more.
Among the many retail destinations in the hub of the Valley is The Beauty Box, which stocks the latest cutting-edge cosmetics, skin and hair care and fragrances, along with candles, diffusers and stylish home décor. Hide & Seek is committed to sourcing beautiful and interesting pieces, both vintage and new, for the modern and eclectic home. Another source to enhance your stay-at-home time is Kit Kraft, with all the art and craft supplies you need for drawing, painting, sculpting, models and creative projects ranging from candlemaking to leatherworking to mosaics. Mag.Pi offers a whimsical assortment of thoughtfully and responsibly sourced gifts, home goods, apparel and apothecary items that support small manufacturers, local artists and charitable causes. Or give the gift of peace and relaxation with more than 240 monthly classes and workshops available via livestream from The DEN Meditation, either a la carte or by subscription, plus an online shop with books, crystals and essential oils.
As we make our shopping lists this year, it’s more important than ever to remember those who are homeless, hungry, alone and vulnerable. Whether you donate on your own behalf or in another’s name — a great gift choice for those who have no space or desire for any more stuff — consider supporting a charity close to your heart. There are a wealth of worthy causes in the world, but here are a few local nonprofit options.
American Cancer Society Discovery Shop Toluca Lake
Supports the fight against cancer through the sale of high-quality, gently used, donated merchandise.
Burbank Temporary Aid Center
Helps the poor, working poor and homeless meet short-term needs for food and basic services to live with dignity and become as self-sufficient as possible.
Fights hunger and prevents food waste by rescuing fresh surplus produce and donating it to hunger relief agencies across Southern California.
Los Angeles Regional Food Bank
Mobilizes community resources to alleviate hunger in L.A. County.
The Midnight Mission
Offers shelter, life necessities and a bridge to self-sufficiency for people experiencing homelessness.
Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation
Keeps music alive in our schools by providing vital support services and new instruments to underfunded programs nationwide.
North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry
A coalition of diverse religious institutions and individuals working together to address food insecurity in the community.
The Rescue Train
A nonprofit, no-kill organization dedicated to eliminating animal suffering, shelter intervention and euthanasia through hands-on rescue.
Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation
Directly supports the film industry community with emergency financial assistance, supportive counseling and helpful resources during this unprecedented time.