Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Shopping in SoCal

It's probably hard to go to California and not do any shopping. I took full advantage of the stores available to me while I was there. (My eyes and feet got a better workout than my wallet, thankfully.) Shopping in southern California offered some different experiences than I'm used to in central Indiana.

The second hotel on my trip was another "nice" one: the Island Hotel at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. Sadly, there was no champagne waiting to greet us when we arrived, but there was always a staff member on hand at the door to open it for us.
The Island Hotel was a 10-minute walk from a large mall, Fashion Island. The proximity was fantastic, because I ended up with an extra day in limbo between work meetings and vacation, and I was able to spend part of the day at the mall, without need for a vehicle. Anchor stores included Macy's, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's and Neiman Marcus. Walkways and entries to each store were outdoors, which is one area that differed from many shopping malls in Indiana. In the last ten years, we've actually seen new and renovated malls move toward this outdoor model, but the weather in Newport Beach is definitely more pleasant for outdoor walking year-round.

If I were to pick one scent that best memorialized my trip, it would be that of the plentiful Night-Blooming Jasmine. It was a favorite of landscapers all over Newport Beach and San Diego. Its small, white flowers give off a wonderful perfume each evening, so walks to and from the mall, and dinners on landscaped restaurant patios, were accented by this beautiful scent. I intended to find a candle or lotion in this scent to bring home with me, but didn't find one that hit the mark. I'll have to keep searching from home. 

I could get used to malls that came with views like this!

I'm fully willing to attribute it more to the specific areas I was in, but I did notice that national retail chains were much more easy to find than locally owned, artisan shops and boutiques in California. When vacation officially started, we spent a day in La Jolla, and even the main shopping district there catered much more to recognizable retail labels. I missed that personal touch, and it was especially noticeable if you mentally compared it to Asheville, NC or Saugatuck, MI.

One of my favorite aspects of shopping in southern California was this: dogs were everywhere! Man's best friend was the shopper's best friend, and they were welcome inside all stores I saw. Many stores even had water bowls out on the sidewalk or inside the front door for these four-legged friends. Perhaps this openness has to do with the more outdoor-living culture. The terrier in the photo below wouldn't be seen inside a Banana Republic in Indianapolis unless he was wearing a service-dog vest.
The dog-lover in me really enjoyed seeing all these little friends out on the town. It did make me miss Buster, though!

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