I had wanted to visit the Santee Alley since last summer. Somehow, it was easier to convince my mom to take me there once I told her she could buy skincare products for herself. On a school-free Friday in February, my mom, brother, and I woke up at 7AM to take a trip to Los Angeles. Traffic wasn’t too bad. We paid $6 for all-day parking one street away from the Alley, somewhere near the CMC and the Prom district.
The first thing I noticed as I approached the Alley was the display of “Urban Decay” Naked 4-5 palettes and other “UD” products I have never seen before. I visited beauty stores like HM Hormiguitas (I should’ve bought the $6 NYX Macaron in Blue Velvet) and Iyalorde (I should not have bought the $4 JCat Lip Paint in Wonderland). They both sold almost the same, cheap makeup (L.A. Girl, NYX, Santee, Kleancolor, etc.). These stores did not seem to sell fake makeup
Pretty much all of the shoe stores sold the same shoes, but they were much more fun than the shoes typically found in the mall. Most of them were heels, so I would probably never wear them. As far as clothing goes, I found much more in the alley that I would buy than in any mall. I wish I could have visited when cobalt blue was a big deal. Too bad I have enough clothes. I will visit again for clothes shopping when I get rid of most of my clothes. Speaking of coming back, I should return for luggage, as well.
I bought some plumeria bobby pins at the Hawaiian themed store. My mom bought a dress.
Yes, we got an Alley Dog. It was good. Next time I’ll try El Big Happy.
If you ever pass by people yelling out luxury brand names, they’re advertising their (fake) merchandise. If you are interested, tell them and, if what I read last year was correct, they will push you into a car and show you what they sell. This is dangerous, but it is how they somewhat get away with selling fake goods.
After touring much of the alley, we stopped at Nature Republic. They displayed samples of everything they sold, but they did not sell every product from Nature Republic (I tried to look for the armpit whitener out of curiosity). They carried sanitizers, lotions, makeup, hair care, and Korean skin care (keep in mind there are many, huge differences between Korean and Western skin care). While my mom bought the snail line, I slipped the Bee Venom Mist Essence ($10.90) and Lip and Eye Liner brush ($3.90 or $2.90, I forgot) into her basket. We also got 4 jars of the 92% Aloe Gel (buy 3, get 1 free for $12ish?) and 2 packs of aloe cleansing wipes (buy 1, get 1 free for $11.90). My brother got some hair wax that he claims to be the best. It is called Super Hard, and it had a picture of one of the members of EXO. The shop was filled with EXO, actually.
Not too long after that, we used the restroom (hidden on the 3rd floor of a parking lot) then headed toward the Flower District with the bags in our hands. Because this was the day before Valentine’s Day, the flower markets were busy with people. We entered the San Julian Flower Market, LA Flower Mall, Papillon Flowers, Lee’s Orchids (I bought my brother a $2 fake flower), and many other flower shops on that street. We did not enter the Original Los Angeles Flower Market or Southern California Flower Market because we did not wish to pay $2/per person at each place.
After leaving the Los Angeles Fashion and Flower Districts, we strolled through Chinatown. We ate tres leches at Phoenix Bakery, drank boba drinks at Lollicup, bought dim sum at Won Kok, walked through the Dynasty Center and whatever stores were adjacent (not the Alpine Center), purchased goods at Skyline, and wondered what the hell happened to the Chinatown Swap Meet.
Traffic on the way home was TERRIBLE. We tried to get to the 5 through Echo Park, but the street was just too slow. Thankfully, we were next to Echo Park Lake, where we stopped to take a break. We sat on a bench and ate our dim sum from Won Kok after being chased by ducks when we initially sat on the rocks. That visit was so peaceful. The sky was getting dark, the skyscrapers of Downtown sat at the foot of our view, and the vast lake and fountain completed the scenery. I hope I can come back and explore the island on the other side of the bridge.
Overall, this was such a positive experience, despite how busy Downtown Los Angeles was. I would love to do this all over again and explore the rest of the Alley.
As a side note, I thought it was a genius idea for Nature Republic to set up shop in this dirty, black market Alley. (Actually, I would feel comfortable bringing my purse to the Alley, to be honest). I cannot deny it was a gamble, but it was a smart move. Santee Alley is a tourist attraction that people from all over the world visit. When they visit Nature Republic (because they WILL visit Nature Republic), they will bring home word of the brand and try to purchase products from home after finishing the ones they bought in California.