As a recent Saturday night inches closer to closing time at Carmody & Co. card store, an older man walks in, offers a greeting and summarily makes his plan known: “I want to find something that’s not nice—something for an 85-year-old, something…curmudgeonly.”
After trading their Union and Arroyo Parkway digs for The Commons and the draw of validated parking, the Carmody & Co. crew is back to servicing patrons with predilection for all things personal.
“People are starting to say, ‘I’m sick of emails, I need to write a thank you note,’” shop owner Terry Clougherty happily reports.
Carmody & Co. can pull off bling—a plume of purple feathers here, a scattering of Swarovski crystals there—but they’ve got understated in the bag, too, as evidenced by an orange cursive-script gala invitation the store recently designed. (The card seller provides non-profits and schools with a 15 percent discount.)
Besides a wall-to-wall selection of in-house cards, the store boasts a library of book-ordering catalogues from the likes of Lallie and industry darlings Crane & Co. and William Arthur.
And on weekdays, graphic designer and store manager Kathy Boyadzhyan is on hand to provide the choosiest of brides-to-be with custom cards.
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday
(626) 795-2924, carmodynco.com
Look past the immaculate Ferrari-red slicer and the shelves of sea salt and truffle oil, and you’ll find what you’re really after: cheese. Slabs of it, decorously laid out on individual silver platters for your peering pleasure. From 12-year-old sharp cheddar lovingly aged by Wisconsin’s Hook’s Cheese Co. to France’s speckled blue St. Agur, the Cheese Store of Pasadena has it all.
Since its well-timed 10.10.10 opening, Louis and Natalia Pastis’ shop at The Commons has gained a reputation as a landing place for the just-returned traveler, eager to track down the brie they fell in love with in Europe. But it’s also the place where the artisan-cheese unacquainted can taste their way to an education.
“We’re a perfect venue for beginners, actually,” Louis says. “At a grocery store, you need to know what you’re looking for because you’re basically on your own. Here, a cheesemonger helps you pair your cheese with different types of food and drink.”
The non-dairy products are well worth bringing home, too, from olive oil sourced from artisan brands like Sonoma’s Merchant & Millers to handmade, naturally-colored pasta imported from Italy. Twice a week, local artisan baker Bread Lounge delivers baguettes and olive loafs that beg to be joined in a crusty grilled cheese union with your cheese of choice
And all this with nary a slip of the “s” word.
“Cheese is never ‘stinky’ in our store. We always use the word ‘aromatic,’” Louis says.
Then he divulges an insider’s tip: The stinkier, the better.
10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday
(626) 405-0050, cheesestorepasadena.com
When Mikko Nakatomi first opened Kimono no Kobeya, a modestly-sized kimono and Japanese accessories boutique nestled in the Burlington Arcade, the name, which she roughly translates to “Kimono is in a Small Room,” was fitting.
But since opening in 2006, that room had become a little too fitting, the handpicked inventory Nakatomi’s nabs from biyearly supply-runs to Kyoto bursting the seams of the tiny shop.
“There was just too, too much stuff!” laughs Nakatomi, who recently settled into a much larger 900-square feet space across the way. (The shop is also directly across from her namesake hair salon, allowing the petite proprietress to peek over when she’s too tied up in tresses to be there.)
Nakatomi’s careful curation of kimonos and haoris (a half-length kimono jacket) has endeared her to an Asian Pacific Museum-savvy clientele, who drape the kimonos over a basic tank or black evening dress for an interesting silhouette or breezily repurpose them as table runners and tapestries.
Tuesday-Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.; closed Sunday and Monday
A good news star picks up a little wind and sways near the front door of Ten Thousand Villages. The ornament’s coiled recycled newsprint construction is impressive, but the piece’s real worth lies in the opportunities it may provide.
With each purchase made, the artisans of the Women’s Multipurpose Cooperative in the Philippines are ensured a fair wage and provided with assistance in obtaining skills training.
At Ten Thousand Villages, every product tells a story. Many of them are handily relayed on the attached price tags or a print out passed on at the checkout.
“It makes it so much more personal if you’re giving something as a gift,” says Hayley Chesshir, a sales associate who’s seen customers commute from as far as Ventura for the fair-minded goods.
Laid out by color, the store features a bevy of gift contenders, from multicolored scarves and shawls from India to fair-trade coffee and knitted finger puppets from Peru for the little ones. You’ll also find furniture made from sustainable wood sourced from Indonesia and supplied by Portland-based Tropical Salvage.
Fresh from celebrating its fifth birthday in a new location across the way from their old address, the shop is still the sole California outpost for Ten Thousand Villages, a national fair-trade retailer that features work by artisan groups from more than 38 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
567 S. Lake Ave.
10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday
(626) 229-9892, pasadena.tenthousandvillages.com
- By Brittany Wong, Correspondent