If you know me in person you know one of my not-so-secret obsessions is stationery. I’ve always been a stationery nerd; back-to-school shopping was my absolute favorite time of year as a kid because that meant new notebooks, trapper keepers, pens, pencils, and book bags to sport. Come visit me at work, and you’ll see my desk is precisely set up to show off all the above, and if you’ve worked with me before, you know I am particular about which pen to use for which notebook, et al. This is serious stuff, people.
So, you can imagine the excitement as I traveled around California discovering a plethora of beautiful boutique retailers with locally-sourced home and office supplies that quickly became a part of my growing collection back home. Below, a round-up of my favorite shops (including but not limited to stationery) from my trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco:
LOS ANGELES SHOPPING GUIDE
Tortoise General Store :: Abbott Kinney, Los Angeles
Abbott Kinney is one of my favorite streets that define Venice Beach (here’s why). It is a shopper’s dream filled with indie retailers that sell everything from bungalow beach house furniture to vintage knick knacks. I stumbled upon Tortoise as its clean minimal aesthetic design drew me in and kept me window shopping for way too long. Their shop features curated goods for professionals everywhere from high-end ball point pens to itty bitty staplers and paper clips to keep you organized. I fell in love with their grid-lined notepad which instantly became my new writer’s pad that I used to chronicle my travels around the west coast.
WILL Leather Goods :: Abbott Kinney, Los Angeles
I’m a sucker for this new trend of hand-made leather fashions. I popped into WILL for a peek at their beautifully-woven sandals which reminded me of the embarrassing footwear my family proudly wore back in Puerto Rico; except WILL has made them a fashionable come back (I’m still debating whether I want a pair or not). WILL also had colorful travel pouches from places like Oaxaca which caught my eye as they’d make a perfect accessory on the road. Luckily for me, WILL also has a location in SoHo so I will be visiting soon!
Firefly :: Abbott Kinney, Los Angeles
I discovered Firely a few years back on my first LA visit and knew I wanted to return. Last time I was there, I bought a set of vintage post cards, a buddha statue and lotus flower stand, and other goodies. If we’ve been pen pals before, chances are you’ve received a postcard from me from this set. This time I came back in search of a planner. Instead I got distracted with the store’s abundance of quirky novelty prints like these:
Spencer even picked up a few recipe books to up his cocktail game.
Lundeen’s :: Culver City, Los Angeles
Lundeens took me by surprise with its vast collection of items I’d never seen anywhere else. I was in awe sifting through aisle by aisle, shelf by shelf finding amazing gifts, cards, and books my wallet couldn’t keep up with. Located on the main drag in Culver City, the store has gifts to fit every person in your family — including babies! I picked up a set of old school multi-color retractable pens for myself, remember these?!
SAN FRANCISCO SHOPPING GUIDE
Flight 001 :: Hayes Valley, San Francisco
One of my absolute musts in pre-trip routines is stocking up on gear at Flight 001. This shop is all about efficient traveling, which I and everyone should come to appreciate — this store makes frequent travelers’ lives easy with practical accessories that are also super cool and unique. I still get a kick out of walking in and finding new gadgets and essentials to steer my next journey. Funny enough, by the time I arrived in San Francisco I realized I needed some additional items to keep my bags organized so I stopped in to grab a toiletries pouch. Check out Flight 001’s exclusive Carry-On Quart Bag which is TSA approved for all your carry-on liquids. You can travel at ease knowing your stuff won’t be questioned at security!
Thread Lounge :: Mission District, San Francisco
Californians have design on lock. Everywhere I went I marveled at the architecture both inside and out of homes, shops, and restaurants. I started imagining what my dream home would look like, taking in bits and pieces of California aesthetics with me. I would research interior design patterns and city guides on Remodelista foolishly thinking I could afford such a life of luxury back in the wallet-squeezing city that is New York. Alas, I have not made any of these dreams come to fruition, but I had a wonderful time exploring Thread Lounge, a mish mash of Indian-inspired household objects and interior decor.
Dog Eared Books :: Mission District, San Francisco
Care for new reading material to kill time on your flight? Hit up local favorite, Dog Eared Books. I love a good book store, and Dog Eared Books has everything an indie book store should have: off-beat obscure awesome reading material and really weird wall art. It’s a very San Francisco vibe in there and I ain’t mad at it.
Press Works on Paper :: Mission District, San Francisco
UGH, I love this store so much. I’m pretty sure I freaked out the cashier when I slowly opened the door with the giddiest smile on my face. This store was basically my adult stationery wet dream come true. Those retractable pens, the graph paper journals, the cardstock, the markers, I want it all. But, I was good and only walked away with a pen. Someone please go here and get me a gift certificate.
826 Pirate Supply Store :: Mission District, San Francisco
My boyfriend loves pirates. I’m not entirely sure why but I feel like all guys go through a pirate phase in their life. If you have a guy who’s into the badass sword-swinging, round-the-world ship sailing life of a pirate, send them to 826 Valencia. It’s amazing. Listen, I love Hook as much as the next guy but this store is pretty much that movie in real life. There’s an actual pirate ship built in the store. There are library-like catalogs with clues and taxidermy everywhere. They have apothecary and pirate “garb” so you can dress up like the real deal. You can even book a birthday party there. Incredible. My boyfriend will probably celebrate his 30th there. You’re all invited.
Now, usually when I travel I like to keep an eye out for mementos to share with friends either back home or friends around the world. It’s one of the best things you can do to make someone’s day. On this west coast trip I found myself thinking of my pen pal Hen over at RAD AND HUNGRY, one of my absolute favorite online mashup shops: travel and office supplies. RAH’s approach is unique: Hen travels the world non-stop curating kits of lo-fi home & office goods reminiscent of that destination she’s visited. It’s awesome, plain and simple. As I frolicked from store to store in California I couldn’t help but think of how much Hen would get a kick out of experiencing these stores herself so I mailed her my own curated west coast kit. To my delight and surprise, Hen returned the favor with a curated kit full of my favorite pieces from her shop when I got back to New York.
Receiving a care package from RAH was exactly the welcome home gift I needed.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and thank you for allowing me to swoon over my nerdy obsessions. For more pics and recommendations from my trip to California, check out my Foursquare page and Instagram feed @makeshiftalisha.
Want to become stationery pals? Have a place you think will feed my fandom? Send me a message!