There isn't a lot of cohesion among the stores I showcase today except that they all cater to tourists; put me off the first time I walked, drove or ran by because of their questionable storefronts; have really lovely stuff for sale, once inside; and are all located in the Gaslamp.
The outside of Melt (345 Sixth Ave.,) isn't the outside of Melt, exactly, because it's located inside Industry Showroom, a warehouse of bad-girls-in-hooker-shoes-on-the-backs-of-motorcycles-going-to-dance-clubs clothing and goods. Walk through the studs and flags and leather, and there, in the back right of the building, you'll find a bright, white, tiny little shop overflowing with adorable. They call it “zakka,” which in my translation book is Japanese for “cute stuff with or without a discernible purpose”—in other words, great gifts. I spied a small glass deer vase, a fondue set for two, a peacock-feather bangle, silk-screened bags that benefit the Cousteau Society, water bottles that look like giant Capri Sun juice bags, mod clutches, tons of sweet and delicate jewelry and candy-shaped things, all marked with fair-game prices. It's worth mentioning that in the way back of Industry Showroom, there's art, and currently it's the biggest collection I've seen of Toygami, the crazy-cool paper-toy art I first spotted at Visual Art Supply on Adams Avenue.
Dolcetti Boutique's (635 Fifth Ave.,) windows are hideous. No, really. They don't speak to the incredibly adorable wares inside. I'm sure it's because not all their wares are that cute—there's some Downtown trash and flash amid the pretty. Like the Euro men's clothes. And the spandex tube dresses. But beyond those I found really special things: Homemade aprons for $30 from & This. Swimsuits from local designer Fables by Barrie. Line & Dot tops. Dresses from Collective Concepts and Yumi. And my very most favorite new line of dresses—Judith March. The vintage-look fabrics! The unique summery silhouettes! The flirty shortness of it all! They are the perfect throw-on-flats-and-a-necklace-and-be-done sort of dresses, and all were priced at around $100. There's a full-service salon in the loft above, which might explain the heavily made-up and intricately coiffed salesgirls. Or perhaps that's just a product of being Downtown.
The Goorin Bros. store (631 Fifth Ave.,) didn't have a horrible window display like the first two. It actually blends in a little too well with the Downtown landscape, so much in fact that I assumed it was Diesel the first three times I walked by. Goorin Bros. make reasonably priced, yet very stylish, hats. Paperboy caps, fedoras—both straw and felt—and gorgeous cloches with satin bows. Goorin is available around the corner at the Hatworks on E Street, and I do like that store and its helpful salespeople a whole lot, but you can pretty much see the whole Goorin line here. We're talking hats stacked to the ceiling. It even has super-small sizes, too. And what's cuter than a toddler in a fedora?
Got a store for Clea to explore? Write to email@example.com.