In an effort to celebrate neighborhoods, culture, and the intersect of the two, we’re traveling around town to profile small discount stores that are full of character and full of unique products that you can only find in Los Angeles. Seeking to do what Anton Gursky did for the 99 Cent Store, please enjoy The Los Angeles Bodega Tour.
Introduction: Giant Dollar is a mixture of many discount store concepts. It’s part Dollar Store, part thrift store, part international marketplace: it covers the gamut of just about everything. Quite giant actually, the store could be seen as a small Big Lots, carrying the torch of the now deceased North Vine Big Lots, now soon-to-be Academy outdoor screening site.
Location: Giant Dollar is in Hollywood, at 1200 Vine. The area surrounding the store is a bit of a black hole of garbage and somewhat questionable characters and seems to be invisible to everyone in the world as they pass from Santa Monica to Fountain. It is located next door to a Goodwill, which you should also stop into because there are some pretty great finds to be found there. What’s most interesting about Giant is that, while at the lowest end of the retail spectrum, it is blocks away and less than 1.5 miles from where people who frequent the top of the retail spectrum frequent (the Kodak Theatre, the Roosevelt, Arclight, Captiol Records, etc.). The disparity is jarring.
Price Range And Inventory: Although they are a “dollar” store, they most certainly are not an “everything is a dollar!” store. Things range from half a dollar to over twenty of them. This is because they sell everything for the home, from toilet seats to produce to rice cookers to toys to cleaners to welcome matts to more: they really have it all.
Features: Two big features here: secondhand clothes and Clara’s Giftshop On Vine. The secondhand clothes are across from the cash registers and are all under ten dollars, usually sitting around two or three dollars. They are mostly women’s clothes and range from things that will fall apart in your hands to a perfect condition RVCA flannel (which I snatched up for $2, $68 dollars less than it’s original price). Take a quick look through the rack but, if you don’t find anything after five minutes, you won’t find anything. Extremely hit or miss. At the far back of the store is another store: Clara’s Giftshop On Vine. This is the best part of the store, as Clara has the best goods: high (“high”) end jewelry and beauty products, lingerie and intimates, fake guns, high (“high”) end toys, kitchen equipment, and items so wonderfully frozen in time that you may slip back into your 2004 hipster skin and buy them all out of irony. Clara’s is definitely always in a state of chaos, which is part of the beauty. Be on the lookout for some Engrish products as well.
Tips: The lines here can get long and parking here is always a pain in the ass, as the lot is like a scene from Mad Max. Definitely be open minded about finding things you actually need but never thought you needed (like a mat intended to sit under dog bowls, holiday/party supplies, balloons, obscure cleaning utensils, and even obscurer food items). Be sure to visit the Goodwill before leaving the complex!!
In Closing: Giant Dollar is definitely a weird little entry into the Bodega Tour, as it is probably the biggest in size and is expected to be a major dud. Again, don’t let it’s exterior fool you, there are some treasures in here.
Have a Bodega you’d like to recommend? Send us the address and information here!