I am a consumer whore

I haven’t explored unknown parts of L.A. in while and decided this Sunday to explore the infamous Santee Alley in downtown.

One more than one occasion, I have been told about this shopping haven. A literal alley flooded with people, vendors, merchandise and bootleg items. My trip to Santee Alley was spurred by a Business page I designed for this Sunday’s section on bargain shopping where one can buy two men’s suits for less than $100 and Gucci sunglasses for $5. (Entire story can be read here sans my fabulous design work.)

The prospect of traveling alone to the seedy parts of downtown was not my ideal situation but finding a coworker to accompany me on Sunday took only seconds. It was going to be a first time for her, a Los Angeles native, and we starting planning our outting early. We both did not want to spend a lot of money and since most of the stores at Santee Alley only accepted cash, we decided to bring a set amount of money to quell our shopping habit. The set amount was $120 each.

Santee Alley crowd

We found Santee Alley with no difficulty. Street parking was limited to only two hours — not enough time for our shopping adventure. We opted instead to pay $3 to park on a roof about 6 blocks away.

Santee Alley hotdog cart

Santee Alley itself is an assault of all senses. There is the smell of bacon wrapped hotdogs and frying onions at the many carts littering the alley. Vendors hawking their wares. Shoppers pushing against each other to view the sales. And the sun beating down on the blacktop.

Bootleg DVDs

It was almost an hour before either of us bought anything but once we saw the bootleg DVDs spread out on the ground, we started plopping down our money. Prices were $5 each or 5 movies for $20. Many of the movies were still in theaters: Ant Bully, The Breakup, World Trade Center, X3, Miami Vice, Pirates of the Caribbean. Obviously the selling of these DVDs are illegal. The vendors were constantly on the move, setting up shop in the middle of the alley and carrying their stash in black plastic bags. It took us as a total surprise when they would suddenly pack up their stuff and take off when plain clothed police officer was headed their way. How they knew they were officers of the law, I don’t know but it happened a lot. I only purchased the just released, Zoom, taking a chance on whether it would even work on my player at home.

Bootleg toys

We each had a list of what we wanted. On the top of the list were purses. We weren’t disappointed. There were so many to choose from knock off Louis Vuitton to Coach ranging in prices from $10 to $90. Some were obvious knocks offs. One example was a supposed Baby Phat purse with the logo on the purse reading ‘Baby Baby.’ Toys were also included to the bootleg market. Three Superman action figures were packaged under “The Return of the Superhero” logo. I guess they wanted to avoid any lawsuits from DC.

Santee Alley purchases

Items bought and weren’t necessarily on my lists were clothes (a dress and blouse for about $30), a sterling silver necklace ($15), a parasol ($5), a dvd ($5), a “Geneva” watch ($10), black leather belt ($8) and a Gucci purse ($10).

Hands down, the saddest thing we saw was the illegal market for pets. One man rode his bicycle down the alley with three puppies for sale at $200 each. We lost count of the baby turtles, bunnies, ignuanas and birds for sale. If I could rescue them all, I would but that would not stop the vicious cycle.

Santee Alley crowd

I would consider returning for some holiday shopping but again with the same circumstances of not going alone and with a set amount of money to spend. I do believe there is a Prada purse with my name on it.

2 thoughts on “I am a consumer whore

Add yours

  1. oh! oh! sounds like an adventure for my next visit! LOL… um, but that jaunt to vino country still sounds good… maybe once it cools down a bit so we can wonder and get tipsy comfortably! 🙂

  2. Yeah, visiting wine country is still on my mind. Maybe end of September?? I should cool it down with the shopping too but I maybe there are day spas there.I'll keep you up to date!

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