Los Angeles Garment District Tips
Shopping in the Los Angeles Fabric District for the first time may feel
overwhelming, but just follow a few tips and you'll be a pro in no time.
Given the high cost of local fabric shops, and their lack of selection, going
to shop in downtown LA's garment district will actually save you time and money.
Besides, the wonderful choices will inspire you to new projects.
If you've never been downtown before a few tips.
|Dress down for power shopping.|
|Regular shoppers come dressed casual ready to shop until they drop.|
|Avoid anything that says "I don't come down here often" in clothing or
|Skip things like coat jackets, labeled bags or high end t-shirts|
|Seriously, the proper dress can affect price 10% to 20%|
|No shiny jewelry even if plastic.
|Shiny stuff attracts the few magpies that are in the area, better to
just leave it off to not stand out.|
|Wear comfortable shoes. Much walking. Very few places to sit.|
|Sun screen is a must as is a hat for the sun sensitive anytime the sun is
out. There are many small shops and no shade between them.|
|Bring CASH! Cash speaks best downtown.|
|Checks are a no-no most places. |
|There are some ATM machines down there, but they're not always working and
have $100 limits. |
|If you have a resale card, bring copies to sent up accounts with
merchants, bring many copies.|
|Some of the bigger places prices are different with resale cards... but
in most cases it's quantity.|
|Cards count at Bohemian Crystal and Michael Levine's though purchased
|No one is going to sell you a half a yard.|
|Cheap fabric places ($1-$2) may have a 3 yard minimum|
|10 yards and over, you can see price advantages.|
|In the 15-20 yard range... find out the bolt price.|
|Buttons, Stones, Crystals and Accessory bits|
|Don't buy ones and twosies even if you can (except for those really
fancy designer buttons, but the rules apply to those too) The prices
will suck... even if you think they are good.|
|Buy buttons/crystal in dozens, at the minimum. You will
find that most times, at about quantity 4... dozen makes more sense.|
|If you're buying a couple of dozen... buy a gross (144) or whatever
their large package is (100).|
|Depending on the store... 4-6 dozen may be the price break on the
stores that don't have the items bagged.|
|In cases of bagged dozen, still ask. (BTW, pre bagged
dozen will be more most times.)|
| "How much for a yard?" then "How much for 10 yards, cash?"
|Some places with barter; some will not. You're not going to change
|If they say, "I give you wholesale." Go for it.|
|Those that don't barter may be more generous with their yardage if
they like you... sometimes very generous.|
|DO NOT barter on tax. If you have a resale card, use it.|
|If you're going to need a receipt, let them know as they're writing it
up... needing a receipt means you'll be paying tax unless you have a
resale card. (Read between the lines there for a tip.)|
|Most places DO NOT have marked prices nor marked fiber content
|Bring paper to note prices so you can compare from place to place.|
|If you really need something, be ready to get a swatch and go out on the
street and do your own burn test. (So bring matches.) |
|Keep a close watch on your purse at all times.
|This is more important in the ready made section than the fabric
section... and doubly important in the "alley" south of Olympic.|
|Most folks who go down to shop barely stop to eat. There are hot
dog carts and corner stands, snack shops. These may are may not even
have a seat. People improvise by sitting on steps, on windowsills and
then move one. The "junk dogs" are great. Don't be scared off
them. Save your money for fabric.|
|There are now some "brand name" places on Santee south of Ninth.
(One street west of Maple) On the weekends lines can be long... and the
bathroom lines even longer w/ purchase only. Subway, McDonalds, El
Polo Loco and more. By long, it could be 45 minutes.|
|Starbucks - SE corner of 9th and Santee. Has seating, can be a
slightly calmer place to catch you breath and load up on energy.|
|Keep drinking water, you'll run it off.
|You can get bottled water from the carts and just about every place
|Stay away from the carbonated cans. Some shop owners won't let you
in with them... but never stop you for having water.|
|Bathrooms are few and far between. Learn where they are... plan
|There are many, many small places you'll be weaving among. When
you go out to an intersection... get yourself oriented with buildings and
|Personally, I like 9th and Maple --- $1.98 signs on the NW corner (and
the "L" fabric mart on the inside) Pink two story building on the SW corner.|
|You're going into many small places. Be prepared to take notes.
| Some allow swatching and will staple the samples to business cards,
some don't. Then you need to make a minimum purchase to get a sample...
half yard often. |
|The real cheep places, won't allow swatching... but at $1-2 a yard... just buy
their 2-3 yard minimum. |
|The main area we're covering is Maple street between Olympic and 8th. We
walk a figure 8 around there. There are separate paths to take depending on what
kind of fabric you're after or beads, or trim... etc. |
For much more Costume exploring, check out more information in:
If there's any events or event web pages you'd like to see linked here, please contact da
Cat at daCat@AlleyCatScratch.com.
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