Ask anyone, and chances are when given the choice to shop at a chain store, or a one-of-a-kind boutique, they’ll choose the latter. Certainly, department stores have their benefits. But, when exploring a San Diego neighborhood, the independently owned retailers reveal a regions personality.
North Park has a bevy of curated shops selling eclectic collections unique to the district.
Quaint storefront windows display carefully culled pieces, luring customers inside to make a purchase or two as a memento. Here’s a select few.
As I get older, I’m more aware of what I put on my skin. I look for wholesome products void of sulfates, petroleum and other chemical ingredients. Shop/Good takes a healthy living approach to make-up, lotions, and cleansers. For instance, their sunscreen is UV chemical free, using mineral based zinc-oxide.
About ten years ago, I began getting facials, realizing I needed to nurture my skin after spending my 20’s baking on the beach slathered in baby oil. Shop/Good offers numerous options. The quick 45-minute deep clean, to the lux 75-minute ultimate pampering. In addition, salt scrub massage hand treatments and aloe gel masks to revive tired eyes will rejuvenate signs of aging.
Pigment provides a feast for the eyes. Each pass through the space reveals another doodad, bauble or novelty to admire. There’s something for every room in your house with varying degrees from whimsical to the exquisite. Stationery and sweets to pillows and plants. An entire wall is devoted to a vertical display of cactus, succulents and houseplants. A nearby, large white table hums with customers creating their own landscape masterpieces. Customers are welcome to pull up a chair, and pair plants with any of the many pots available. Only pay for what you use. Or, bring your own container, and fill it with foliage.
Classes are taught off-site at Pigment’s warehouse, with drinks and snacks.
Here, you can try your hand at making candles. Or, construct your own mug at their ceramics workshop. A perfect launching pad to explore your inner artist.
This colorful San Diego tienda on a south corner off North Park’s main thoroughfare exudes true Mexico. Not the touristy version. Owner Elexia is a gringa who grew up south of the border. Throughout her life, she traveled the Latin country extensively. Notably, she familiarized herself with the many regions and their artisans. This allows her to spot novel Mexican pieces to sell at Artelexia.
Elexia’s Bachelor of Culinary Arts and love of cooking inspired her to start a tour company— Eat. Drink. Cook. Mexico.
She leads six-day culinary excursions to Oaxaca. When there, you’ll learn just the right spices to create authentic mole, tamales and salsas. Additionally, you’ll visit rug weavers, shop markets, and a textile museum. Equally important, tours are kept to a maximum of 12 people to ensure a personalized experience.
Mimi & Red
Mimi & Red’s 12-year tenure in North Park attests to this boutique’s mass appeal. Their 5,000 Facebook followers agree. Whether you’re rail thin or have a tummy, 20-years old or 60, a cute outfit and accessories are waiting. Dresses average $79, tops $38, and skirts $45. Inexpensive enough to add fun pieces to your wardrobe.
Ooh and ahh over make-up pouches festooned with dog art. Thrill the senses with eau de parfum. Or, buy a glass tray with a cute saying. They even sell hair scrunchies (yup, they’re back). And corduroy fanny packs (they’re back, too.)
Love & Aesthetics
There is something strangely alluring about this quirky, multifarious shop. Owner, Sean Barnes, has a desire to offer items seldom seen and exclusive to San Diego. He’s succeeded. His esoteric choices will bring a smile to your face. For example, heart vases shaped like an actual heart with openings at the aorta and vena cava are filled with colorful flowers. Alongside this anomaly are tea cups embossed with the word “poison.” Likewise, candles the scent of copper, and rust intrigue shoppers. And, enamelware plates picturing a bullfrog between a hamburger bun adorn tables.
Ultimately, Barnes sprinkles normal items throughout to balance the unusualness. This keeps San Diego patrons from all walks of life enjoying Love & Aesthetics. I bought the heart vase. It looks great hanging in my hallway.
Sometimes you want to read an actual book, feel the pages turn, study the cover art, and adorn your bookshelf with it when finished. Verbatim feeds this desire and has pulled out all the stops. For one thing, they supply readers with the ultimate selection of used and rare tomes. Local authors’ new releases are the exception.
Every genre imaginable fills the shelves.
Coupled with its aesthetically pleasing decor, you have a fan favorite.
Events showcasing journalists are popular. As is open mic nights for poets. Writers’ workshops are San Diego novelists’ favorite. Likewise, indie publishers clamor to have editions sold here. Local artists and photographers display their work on the walls adding to the atmosphere.
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