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Where to Dine and Shop Near Otis College for Small Business Saturday

Interior of the Book Jewel bookstore in Westchester, Los Angeles
Be intentional with your dollars this holiday season by supporting small and local boutiques and restaurants. 
Anna Raya 

With supply chain issues making holiday shopping a bigger headache than usual this year, there’s no time like the present (pun intended) to shop small—and local—this season. “Unlike many online and big box retailers, we are completely stocked because our focus is local,” says Book Jewel manager Sean Moor of the benefits of shopping small this holiday season. “We know many of our customers on a first-name basis and care deeply about supporting our local schools and community. We believe that small businesses make a big difference in the communities they serve.” 

In preparation for Small Business Saturday on November 27, we’ve gathered a list of several local shops and restaurants in neighboring Westchester (and slightly beyond) that you can support, either for that perfect eclectic gift, or a little shopping sustenance. 

Ayara Thai, 6245 W 87th St., Los Angeles, CA 90045, 310-410-8848, https://ayarathai.com

Authenticity is key to the Thai cuisine at Araya, a Westchester mainstay, where family recipes have been passed down three generations. Feeding locals (and those smart enough to make the drive from across town) since 2004, Araya is known for the fresh, homegrown ingredients and spices that go into every dish, including curries, noodles, and wok specialties like spicy basil crispy pork belly and garlic shrimp. 

The Book Jewel, 6259 W. 87th St., Los Angeles, CA 90045, 424-750-9991, www.thebookjewel.com 

Owner Karen Dial opened this independent bookstore during the pandemic, and despite less-than-ideal timing, she and manager Sean Moor have realized her dream of creating a store that is both a shopping destination and a community hub. In addition to its endless shelves of books, cards, and one-of-a-kind gifts, the Book Jewel also hosts children’s storytimes, poetry readings, and book clubs, among other events. Paiges, the bookstore cat, is waiting to greet you!

The Coffee Company, 8751 La Tijera Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90045, 310-645-7315, www.thecoffeecompanyla.com  

The line of patrons waiting for tables at The Coffee Company is testament to the quality of the breakfast and lunch offerings at this family-run restaurant. Fortify yourself for holiday shopping with fluffy pancakes or house specialities like shrimp n’ grits and country style chicken hash, and wash it all down with a Moet mimosa. 

Flowers by Felicia, 200 Culver Blvd., Suite A, Playa del Rey, CA 90293, 310-305-1200, www.flowersbyfeliciapdr.com 

For over 30 years, Felicia St. Denis has run her Playa del Rey flower and gift shop, which locals have likened to the Cheers bar for its coziness and “everyone knows your name” level of familiarity. Where else can you buy flowers for yourself or someone you love, and gifts such as jewelry, soap, or candles? 

Graphaids, 10003 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA  90232, 310-204-1212, www.graphaids.com 

Graphaids offers a great selection of supplies for the artists and designers in your life (hint, hint), as well as small gifts. The main store recently relocated to a new space in Culver City and, while closed on Saturdays, the Otis campus storefront is the only one where you’ll find exclusive, limited-edition Otis-branded swag like t-shirts and hoodies. 

Hotel June, 8639 Lincoln Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90045, 310-645-0400, www.thehoteljune.com/west-los-angeles 

A haven for weary travelers, this boutique hotel boasts a hidden gem of a restaurant, Caravan Swim Club, where chef Angie Lee blends California ingredients with a Northern Mexican culinary flair. The restaurant also features a mural by Otis alumnx Stephen Carballo (’13 BFA Product Design). For a great escape, day passes for use of the hotel pool are also available. 

Lily Love Boutique, 8125 B W. Manchester Ave., Playa del Rey, CA 90293, 323-373-5490, https://lilyloveboutique.com 

Former stylist turned entrepreneur Sara Lashkari opened her clothing boutique in the middle of the pandemic last summer, but her passion and a good eye for fashion has kept the shoppers  returning to her boutique on Manchester Avenue in Playa del Rey for on-trend pieces and accessories. 

Playa Provisions, 119 Culver Blvd., Playa del Rey, CA 90293, 310-683-5019, www.playaprovisions.com

Playa Provisions is the third endeavor from Top Chef winner Brooke Williamson and husband Nick Roberts. It includes four different restaurants nestled within one 7,000-square foot, beachside location: King Beach cafe, Dockside, Small Batch, and Grain Whiskey Bar. Inspired by the city’s “country marts,” the four separate, yet cohesive dining experiences offer something for every taste. 

Qargo Coffee, 8601 Lincoln Blvd., #140, Los Angeles, CA 90045, 310-341-9416, https://goo.gl/maps/Q4PUJ2V7rVK7kFDi6 

A new coffee shop on the block, Qargo Coffee—just down the street on Lincoln Boulevard—serves up Lavazza specialities including espresso con panna and Mediterranean cold brew, perfect for keeping your holiday spirits properly caffeinated during the busy shopping season. The cafe also offers free refills on drip coffee, and freshly bakes pastries on the premises.

Soundstations Records, 8701 La Tijera Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90045, 310-641-8877, http://soundsationsrecords.com 

Longtime friends Pete Grasso and Lee Wilson opened Soundstations in 1990, after having worked in record shops throughout college while dreaming of the day they’d open their own spot. With all things analog—including vinyl LP’s—back in style, Soundstations is a perfect gift destination for that music-lover in your life. This year they’re also celebrating RSD Black Friday, when record labels release special editions as a way to promote these independent businesses. 

Tony P's Dockside Grill, 4445 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292, 310-823-4534, www.tonyps.com 

Westchester resident Tony Palermo and co-owner Danny Ringwood have been in the food business for almost 50 years, half of which was spent making Tony P’s into a waterfront destination for delicious seafood and steaks and “foo foo drinks” like botanical martinis and smokey margaritas. It’s the perfect place to unwind and catch an L.A. sunset. 

Also in Culver City: Our MFA Fine Arts Studios are located in nearby Culver City, which is home to a walkable downtown and many small business stars, such as Destroyer, Village Well Books & Coffee, Lundeen’s Gift Shop, and Plant Mama, as well as the popular Platform.  

No matter which neighborhood you find yourself in this weekend, supporting Small Business Saturday is now more important than ever. Don’t forget to also support Otis alumnx small business owners, which we have previously shared. You also can visit the Otis Online Store at any time to gift some Otis love to anyone on your list this year (and beyond!).

Main image: Inside The Book Jewel; courtesy of The Book Jewel