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Bargain Shopping in Los Angeles: The Santee Alley

Santee Alley

The Santee Alley is a popular retail shopping destination in the Los Angeles Fashion District. It’s known for its outdoor, festival like atmosphere and unbelievable bargains.  It’s a popular shopping destination for Angelenos and LA tourist attraction.

The Santee Alley is a two block long stretch of alley in the Los Angeles Fashion District with over 150 stores and vendors crammed into it. Most anything can be found here apparel, toys, accessories, perfume, gifts, and electronics. The alley is located between Santee Street and Maple Ave and stretches from Olympic Blvd. on the north to Pico Blvd. on the south. It’s open 365 days a year from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm.

The alley actually once played a pivotal role in the Los Angeles garment industry which was established in the early 20th century. As the garment district (the former name for the Fashion District) evolved from being a manufacturing and wholesale district to retail, many of the stores began to operate retail outlets out of their back doors in the alley section now known as the Santee Alley. The Los Angeles Garment Districts name was changed to the Los Angles Fashion District in 1996.

If you are going to the Santee Alley for the first time, it’s crowded. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing and plan on doing some walking. You’ll want to look over all the bargains and chances are you’ll also want to venture out further into the rest of the Fashion District which is primarily retail in that end of it. Bring cash. Many of the stores don’t accept anything else. If you need more, there are plenty of ATMs around.

A caution. The Santee Alley isn’t just known for bargains. It also has a reputation for selling knockoffs and counterfeit goods. It’s been raided a couple times by the LAPD to arrest counterfeiters. In a 2 day raid in 2006, over $18 million worth the counterfeit designer brand merchandise was seized. So if you happen to be drooling over a Gucci purse and the price seems way too good to be true, buyer beware. However there are plenty of legitimate businesses in the Alley and lots of off brand merchandise at incredible prices.

There are a number of parking lots around the area. Again, beware. Sometimes they have a sign waver in front saying parking $4.00 but once you drive inside they tell you that is only for the first five minutes and that you need to pay $20.00. If so, leave! You should have no problem finding all day parking for between $5.00 and $8.00.

Enjoy your bargain hunting shopping spree and don’t forget to tell your friends to visit Totally LA.

More photos after the break…

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