With the three-month UK/LA Festival running through April 30, Southern California's awareness of ties with Britain is becoming keener. Besides the opportunity to attend cultural events, now is a good time to explore some of the British gift stores around the Southland and become more familiar with the life style of the British.
These specialty import shops are aimed at the about 50,000 British folks who live in the area, the 250,000 to 500,000 people who have some direct connection to Britain and all the residents who have visited Britain or want to get a bit closer to the genuine British experience.
The following gift shops carry everything from teapots to collectibles, from books to baby items. Foods available in the grocery departments of most of the shops include teas, bangers (British sausages), pastries, meat pies, biscuits and sweets.
Rose Tree Cottage British Imports, 824 E. California Blvd., Pasadena, (818) 793-3337. Open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Sundays noon-5 p.m.
An English atmosphere pervades the two cottages--formerly residences--that comprise this shop. Among the imported goods for sale are handmade miniatures, the popular collectible David Winter cottages, antique linens, Liberty of London fabrics, travel and gardening books, books for children, British magazines and a variety of teas and food items. Within each cottage is a tearoom in which cream tea (tea and scones) is served Monday through Saturday 3-5 p.m. and Sundays 2-5 p.m. Reservations required.
Continental Shop, Ambassador Hotel, 3400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 383-2995. Open daily 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Validated parking with $5 purchase.
Hundreds of British videos are available for rent or sale at this shop; call for a free catalogue of titles. On display are a large selection of phonograph records from Great Britain and the rest of Europe, maps and guidebooks, British magazines and newspapers, china and crystal, posters, tartan skirts from Scotland and imported food items, wines and beers.
Hare and the Hounds, 2975 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, (805) 495-4042. Open Monday through Saturday 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Sundays noon to 5 p.m.
Some of the imported goods carried here are china dolls and gifts, teapots, newspapers, collectors' plates, Lilliput Lane cottages, vases, Bronnley bath products, toy cars for collectors, place mats and tea towels. Various food items are also for sale.
The Piccadilly Shop, 2011 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank, (818) 842-2324. Open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sundays noon to 8 p.m. Closed Mondays.
New owners recently took over this import shop, which has been open since 1961. A wide range of British goods is stocked, including china, soaps, calendars, tea towels, kitchen aids, Brown Betty earthenware teapots, a selection of tartan ties and wool ties, soccer magazines, books and the weekend editions of British newspapers. In addition, English teas and Canadian Red Rose teas, as well as a complete range of food and grocery items, can be found here.
Scottish Heritage Center, 7561 Center Ave., Old World Village, Huntington Beach, (714) 893-5555. Open daily 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Also located at London Town Village near the Queen Mary, where the shop is open daily 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m., (213) 590-9092. A third location will open in spring at 915 E. California Blvd., Pasadena, (818) 795-8072.
All sorts of Scottish and Irish imports are carried at these shops, including 400 tartans, mainly in the form of ties, scarfs and sashes. Also stocked are cassettes, compact discs, records, videos, musical instruments, jewelry and coats of arms from all European countries. Imported edibles are found at the Huntington Beach location and will be available in Pasadena.
Tottenham Court, 12206 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 761-6560. Open Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturdays 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Other locations: 1231 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, (213) 394-3306, open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday (open this Sunday only, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., for a sidewalk sale), and 122 E. Ojai Ave., the Oaks, Ojai, (805) 646-2574, open daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The Ojai location is also open Sundays 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
These well-stocked shops carry silver, perfumes, crystal, cookbooks, soap, commemoratives of the Royal Family, music boxes, magazines and newspapers, antique linens (tablecloths, pillow cases, doilies), antique christening dresses and other baby items, fabric garment bags and a large selection of teas, jam and chutney and other food items. Their specialty is putting together food and gift baskets in all price ranges. Orders may be called in. The British Weekly, a local newspaper, is available free.
All Things Bright and British, 8401 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa, (619) 464-2298. Open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m.