Best Antique Store: Stars Antique Market
There are only so many 1906 Edison Home Phonographs left in the world. And there must be fewer still whose pavilion — the elaborate horn-shaped end designed to amplify sound before the days of digital receivers — points directly at a glass-encased chrome statuette of the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales. Walk into Stars Antique Market in Hermosa Beach, however, and one is staring you in the face.
Housed in a barn-like building that was once home to a Mrs Gooch’s (the forerunner of Whole Foods), Stars is a Pier Avenue fixture that draws people in, and keeps them there for a long time. Every corner contains something to marvel at: an old Ouija Board; a Super 8 of the 1936 fight, and 1938 rematch, between Joe Louis and Max Schmelling; a 1968 photograph of Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver and other leather-jacket clad Black Panthers at a “Free Huey” rally.
The dizzying diversity feels like a testament to the inventive power of the human mind. Employees say most of the items come from estate sales that the owners scrupulously pick through. And once gathered together, knick knacks and bricka brack blend seamlessly with finery and luxury goods. To ask if any of it is “useful” is to miss the point. Leaving the store, one feels a bit guilty about ever throwing anything away.
526 Pier Ave.
Runner-Up: Memory Lane
20740 S. Figueroa St.