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VALLEY WEEKEND | BARGAINS

Full Plate of Good Buys at Doin' Dishes Store

From Fiesta ware to fish platters, store offers variety of open stock.

February 01, 1996|GERI COOK | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

When someone gave me a tip that there was a great discount dish store on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, I didn't zip over there right away. A bargain on Montana? Sure. Well, my cynicism was unwarranted. There is a great discount dish store on Montana and in the ritziest of neighborhoods. First off, the name is perfect . . . Doin' Dishes.

When you walk in, the bare-bones decor screams out "bargains." Actually, there is a total lack of decor, which in itself is refreshing on Montana.

The colorful patterns on the pottery provide the decor. There are pastels from Fiesta ware and wonderful designs from L.A. Pottery's Laurie Gates. All sizes of plates, bowls and service pieces grace the room. Nancy Calhoun's brightly colored pottery is everywhere.

Owner Anya Kemak, with no previous experience in retail, just seems to know how to please. Her basic formula is to buy discontinued patterns or seconds from Southern California manufacturers and resell them to the public at 30% to 50% off retail. But it's Kemak's good taste that seems to be the key. Hardly a clinker in the lot.

The popular Fiesta ware, which at Doin' Dishes is served in seven colors, reflects a healthy savings. The dinner plates, which retail for $9, are $6, salad plates, which retail for $7 are $3.50, and the cereal bowls are $4.25.

Nancy Calhoun is not manufactured in Southern California, but the distributor is located here. So you'll find discontinued patterns, some first quality, some seconds at 50% below retail. The flaws in the seconds are generally slightly off color tones. There are many interesting shapes and sizes, similar to those found in restaurant supply stores, and these are irresistible. Ramekins and mini-pitchers and ceramic muffin pans all add to the fun at Doin' Dishes.

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Everything is open stock, so you can pick as many or as few as you like. Who needs both a bread & butter plate and a salad plate? Mix and match. There are some terrific serving pieces--like the really long and skinny fish platter that retails for $60 but sells here for $35. Trivets that sell elsewhere for $14 are $8.50. Some cheerful and very large pasta bowls that Doin' Dishes sells for $22 cost $46 elsewhere.

About 90% of the inventory is country and breakfast-style, but from L.A. Pottery, a Laurie Gates dramatic black and gold design is definitely dinner party material. One very large platter sells for $47 at retail stores and here costs $21.

There's a small selection of stemware from Mexico marked $4 each and some charming glass bottles from Italy for $11.

Doin' Dishes, 925 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (310) 319-3474. Hours: Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visa, MasterCard. Other location: 5016 E. Second St., Long Beach. (310-439-3474).

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WEEKEND SUPER SALE: Shopping the sales at bargain stores is a sure way to land a good deal. Starting Friday it's 20% off already discounted prices on everything in the place (except shoes) at Apparel Warehouse. Dance wear and aerobics apparel with labels like Gilda Marx and Baryshnikov are the offerings. A Gilda Marx leotard that retails for $20 and regularly sells here for $15 will be $12 starting Friday. The sale goes through Feb. 12 in Tarzana and Feb. 10 in the Westwood location. A good time to stock up. Apparel Warehouse, 6010 Yolanda St., Tarzana. (818-344-3224). Other location: 2089 Westwood Blvd., Westwood. (310-475-1400).

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