Burbank’s Magnolia Park district has a reputation for blast-from-the-past shopping. On this one-mile stretch, shoppers might find a vintage cocktail dress and a retro Pan Am handbag, or they might bump into the set decorator from their favorite period television show.
Pinup Girl is known for its whimsical prints and flashy storefront displays (Photo: Pinup Girl)
When costume and set designers from shows like “Masters of Sex” and “Boardwalk Empire” need to outfit their actors or prepare for a scene, they head to the 3000 block of West Magnolia Boulevard, a small but stylish neighborhood in Burbank, about ten miles north of the Hollywood sign. Trendy locals flock here too, looking to snag retro fashions and trinkets both old and new, yet inspired by styles of the past.
And, not just clothing. West Magnolia, which has become known as “vintage row,” includes toy stores, barbershops, home furnishing boutiques, even a retro candy mart. Pop Rocks, anyone?
Inside Scoop: On the last Friday of every month, the local merchants association celebrates Ladies & Gents Night Out with sidewalk sales, special discounts, live music and food trucks. The block gets crowded and noisy, but the boulevard is clean and pedestrian friendly.
With shops, like What Katie Did and The Blue Pig, lining both sides of the boulevard, visitors may want to hit up every store, but here are a few not to be missed.
There’s something fun and flirty about this retro 1950s boutique. Maybe it’s the sales clerks, who wear pin curls and peep toe pumps. Maybe it’s the flouncy skirts and dresses in eccentric prints, including cats drinking out of water bowls and circus elephants balancing on colorful balls. Either way, this store is both sexy and classy, with clothing sizes ranging from extra-small to extra-extra large (curvy girls welcome!). Recently, the most popular item in the store was a purple swing dress adorned in green Venus flytraps, a la Little Shop of Horrors. There’s also a stylist on hand for full hair-and-makeup glam. Inside scoop: Twice a year, Pinup Girl opens early for a “yard sale” in the back of the shop, where vendors sell vintage items and customers line up for bargains.
3606 W. Magnolia Blvd.
Further down the street, and worth the walk, is Unique Vintage, which has a cult-like following online, but only one brick-and-mortar store. The shop is large and lavish, with chandeliers and a plush sitting area. Items are all new, yet vintage-inspired, including fringed flapper dresses, beaded purses, t-strap heels and Esther Williams-style halter-top swimsuits. Inside Scoop: Unique Vintage is a popular alternative for prom and bridesmaid dresses with a retro flair.
2013 W. Magnolia Blvd.
In the center of vintage row is Audrey K, a small but bright boutique with carefully curated retro-style goodies, including cat eye sunglasses, coin purses, vinyl Pan American airline tote bags and dresses in whimsical prints by local designers. Everything in the store is ultra-feminine, from the flippy, flowered skirts to the wide-brimmed hats with polka-dot ribbons. Customers who buy small treats, like earrings or zippered coin purses, take their purchases home in 1950s-style popcorn bags. Audrey K also offers another vestige: the option of layaway, which was popularized in the 1930s, but largely done away with during the 1980s.
3414 W. Magnolia Blvd.
When was the last time you had Pop Rocks? Or candy cigarettes? At Rocket Fizz, which is next door to Audrey K, search for your favorite childhood confections. Sugary blasts from the past include oversized lollipops, Pixy Stix, Necco Wafers, Sugar Daddies, Ring Pops and more than 100 flavors of saltwater taffy. Besides candy, the store features gag gifts, concert posters, tin signs and glass-bottled soda pop in flavors ranging from sweet corn and sarsaparilla to maple syrup and peanut butter and jelly. Stop by on Sundays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. for free soda tastings.
3524 W. Magnolia Blvd.
What goes with candy better than toys? Burbank Antiques is the kind of place that may spark a wistful longing for one’s youth, when life revolved around Star Wars figurines and cartoon character lunchboxes. Shoppers will find curios and collectibles from the ‘50s to the ‘90s–not exactly antiques (meaning 100 years old or older), but definitely vintage (meaning used and more than 20 years old). Most items are behind glass to preserve their condition, but shopkeepers are happy to open the cases. Recently, treasures included vintage Barbie dolls, Pez dispensers, superhero water glasses, and E.T. and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle memorabilia. Besides toys, there is an interesting collection of political pins from the Nixon era and a stash of vinyl records, some for as little as a few bucks.
3423 W. Magnolia Blvd.
In the mood for something older and perhaps bigger? Scavenger’s Paradise has a variety of architectural pieces, like decorative (and beautifully rusted) gate fixtures, weathervanes, cast-iron birdcages and floral brass chandeliers. Set decorators sometimes rent items for period television shows and feature films. Items here are vintage, but mostly antique, and prices range widely. A few bills may buy you a lovely 1920s sterling silver hairpin, while prices for treasures like a 19th century French engraved tea caddy and a 1900 Italian painted table move up into the hundreds.
3425 W. Magnolia Blvd.
Specializing in items from the 1940s to the 1960s, this store at the corner of Magnolia and Fairview is like a museum to fashions of the past, with a labyrinth of rooms and alcoves, all bursting with clothing, handbags, hats and housewares. Vintage treasures include a ladies blue velvet bell-shaped cloche, a faux lizard handbag with a metallic clasp and a double-breasted black fur jacket from the ‘70s. Playclothes also has a section for men, with leather loafers, Hawaiian shirts from the ‘80s and a collection of curious cufflinks. One thing you’ll find here that you may not find elsewhere: an array of vintage tablecloths. As you peruse the racks, be sure to look up. The baroque ceiling–with gilded framing and paintings of cherubs–is reminiscent of chapels in Paris. C’est magnifique!
3100 W. Magnolia Blvd.