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BARGAINS / GERI COOK

Garden Delights : Luigi's offers the staples of back-yard tranquillity--statuary, fountains and birdbaths--all at affordable prices.

July 22, 1994|GERI COOK | Geri Cook's Bargains column runs every Friday in Valley Life!

GLENDALE — Accessories enhance the beauty of a garden or patio so easily and inexpensively that it's no wonder they are so sought after.

Statuary is always popular, especially when you personalize with your own theme--Oriental, religious, animal--whatever increases your sense of tranquillity. Fauna is used most, whether it's frogs, birds, fish or alligators. And then there are angels, angels and more angels.

Luigi's Pottery & Garden Ware stocks a broad range of concrete fauna, and has a heavy supply of cherubs of all sizes and manner, ranging from $8 to $150. A charming wall piece of two angel faces is about 10 inches wide and costs a reasonable $39.

Owned and operated by the same family for 60 years, Luigi's seems to be the favorite of many astute garden fanciers, despite having two garden supply competitors within a block or two of the store.

The day of my visit, I checked out the other stores and found more customers at Luigi's than at either of its neighbors. There also was no identifying sign or visible entrance to Luigi's--the in crowd just seems to know.

Luigi's focuses on items the others don't, and their prices are better for the quality of products they sell.

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The Santa Barbara Bells--the only chimes Luigi's sells--proved the point. Prices range from $40 to $240, compared to $80 to $600 for the same products elsewhere and in many catalogues.

The specialty of the house is fountains. The small interior fountain created by owner Gary McAllister is delightful. It is 12 inches wide and 8 inches high with a small electric pump that keeps the water (and the accompanying sound) trickling over stones. Luigi's price of $89.95 is definitely a bargain--a fountain similar to this would cost at least $125 elsewhere.

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Other fountains vary in size from 3 to 8 feet long and cost from $75 (retail $150) to $525 (retail $800). There are catalogues with hundreds of different fountains, and about 50 fountains, discounted about 35% to 40%, are in stock.

A three-tier fountain, about 5 feet tall with a submersible pump, runs $300 rather than $500.

Most people can install the fountains themselves and save on the installation fee, McAllister says.

Concrete pots in all sizes are everywhere.

A large one, measuring 21 by 20 inches, is $60 instead of $80 elsewhere, and the ratio of savings in other sizes is about the same.

Birdbaths also abound. A medium-size concrete birdbath, measuring 25 by 20 inches, is $40; expect to pay about $60 at most places.

Luigi's was founded by Sebastian and Dominica D'Angelo in 1934 and has been operated by their son-in-law, Lynn McAllister, for many years.

Great-grandson Gary, who has become somewhat of an expert on fountains, recently took over.

McAllister says the business has been buying terra-cotta pots from the same source in Mexico for more than 20 years.

"We try to carry what other garden shops don't carry," he says.

The rare black pots are an example.

Handmade in Oaxaca, Mexico, of black clay, they are becoming hard to get, and the stock here is slim.

In the standard terra-cotta pots, there is plenty to choose from in some unusual shapes and sizes, priced well below the average market price.

WHERE AND WHEN

What: Luigi's Pottery & Garden Ware.

Location: 5630 San Fernando Road, Glendale.

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Wednesday. Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cards: MasterCard, Visa.

Call: (818) 246-7579.

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