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3-HOUR TOUR

Trolls to Artists : Unobtrusive street offers a curious mix of charming boutiques and no-frills, warehouse-style stores.

July 16, 1993|CINDY LaFAVRE YORKS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Cindy LaFavre Yorks is a regular contributor to The Times

A brief glimpse of Business Center Drive and unsuspecting motorists might view the street as little more than a wrong turn off Tam pa Avenue on the way to Northridge Fashion Center. But on closer inspection, serious shoppers will find a number of unique stores offering reasonably priced merchandise in a no-hassle atmosphere with ample parking.

The unobtrusive street is a curious mix of charming boutiques and no-frills warehouse-style stores with humorously generic names. Many stores limit their hours, but weekends--and Fridays in particular--are good days to visit there. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and cool clothing, since you'll be outside in the heat between stores.

Since there is little shade in this concrete complex, it's best to start in the morning, perhaps with a late breakfast at Marie Callender's. Sip coffee on the patio area and take in the cool morning breeze as you breakfast alfresco. This gives you more time to shop through lunch and beat the heat.

10 a.m.: If you have young children in tow, the best place to start shopping is at Puzzle World & Troll World so you can buy them some goodies--and some time for yourself--to keep them amused for the trek ahead. It's at the far corner of a small horizontal line of shops with decorative, Old World-style exteriors.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday July 23, 1993 Valley Edition Valley Life Page 30 Zones Desk 1 inches; 33 words Type of Material: Correction
Wrong place--Angel Wings, 19350 Business Center Drive, Suite 101, Northridge, was misidentified in the Three-Hour Tour in Valley Life on July 16. It stocks dried floral arrangements and Victorian trinkets, and offers craft classes.

Not surprisingly, trolls proliferate. There are trolls with white hair, trolls with prison uniforms and even trolls with breasts! A variety of jigsaw puzzles are also for sale, including the standard cardboard variety, decorative cast-iron ring-style puzzles and more classical games such as Botticelli playing cards. There are storybooks and decorative Russian nesting dolls. Attention, parents on budgets: miniature plastic dinosaurs start at 99 cents each.

10:15 a.m.: Bringing kids into The Finishing Touch by Dee is like taking the proverbial bull through the china shop, so beware. However precarious it may be with children, the stop is well worth it. Inside the fragrant store are beautiful dried flower arrangements and decorative items. Potpourri sells for $6.95 for a generous five-ounce size, and a quaint collection of apothecary-style bottles adorned with small dried rosettes and other dainty petals are $24 to $32. Feminine hats and ballet-style flats are customized here with the dried blossoms of your choice for weddings and other festive occasions. Amateur jewelry artists will appreciate the unusual assortment of charms and beads starting at 20 cents apiece. Classes for a variety of crafts are also offered.

10:30 a.m.: Inside Fabric Warehouse, materials and notions of all types from all seasons fill the store. Prices are low and even patterns, uniformly priced in most fabric stores, sell for discounted prices every day. For example, patterns regularly priced from $3.95 to $15 are $3.49 and $9.99. Some patterns are pieced as low as $1.79.

There are bolts of couture-inspired wool suit fabrics, elegant velvet, bridal tulle and lace fabrics, and even whimsical Joe Boxer printed cottons. Parents who want to get a jump start on Halloween '93 will find a variety of whimsical animal print fabrics ideal for costumes.

10:45 a.m.: Few menswear stores are as affordable as 3-Day Suit Brokers. Inventory is vast, and the systematic pricing relies on a color code. Green dots signify suits priced at $89, marked down from $225. The most expensive fixed price, $219, included suits originally priced at $535. Suits with brown tickets are individually priced and reflect varying savings. Designer names include Hugo Boss and Paolo Gucci. The limited operating hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.

11 a.m.: Marilyn Monroe fans will go bananas at Weston Fine Arts, where owner/dealer Edward Weston has a large collection of Monroe black-and-white photos. But the gallery's overall inventory is quite diverse. There are porcelain plates, ornate glass pieces, lithographs, oil paintings and even unframed posters starting at $25. The priciest piece of the lot: a Jackson Pollock glass globe selling for $1 million. Other artists featured here include Picasso, Andy Warhol and Norman Rockwell.

11:15 a.m.: While there is a good deal of professional beauty supplies inside Wholesale Beauty Supply, run-of-the-mill beauties may benefit from outstanding prices and hard-to-find items. Hair products by Paul Mitchell, KMS, Tri, Sebastian, Sorbie, Redken, Aveda and Mastey are featured, among others.

Thera are tiny makeup brushes with pen-tip-size bristle points for as little as 25 cents and larger, more colorful powder brushes for $5.95. The entire Cici line of color cosmetics is featured, as are Cabot's Corrective Cosmetics designed to conceal birthmarks and the like.

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