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No Need to Cross Ocean for Fine English China

Affordable, first-quality place settings and open stock are available, as well as some seconds.


If any of your friends have recently returned from England with what they believe to be fabulous bargains on china, don't send them to The Almost & Perfect English China Shop. You'll take the wind out of their bargain-hunting sails.

Take the very popular Royal Albert, for instance. It's 50% off retail here--all the time. And to make the deal even sweeter, it's open stock. So if you don't want (or need) the entire place setting sold at most retail outlets, why pay for it? For most folks, having a salad plate and a bread & butter plate is a redundancy.

Ruth Hertz, owner of The Almost & Perfect English China shop, travels to Europe on a regular basis purchasing fine china, most of it from the British Isles. She always has some interesting and unusual pieces not usually seen at American sources, and at a truly great price. On her most recent trip she found some lovely and unusual English floral cups and saucers, which collectors refer to as "fancies," that would sell here and there for $29.90 (or the British equivalent). Hertz's price is $14.90.

An Anglophile will love the Brown Betty, in England the "workhorse" of teapots, which holds six-eight cups and sells for $24 rather than the regular retail price of $39.

The most surprising bargains the day of my visit were the white china "blanks" of a very high-end china manufacturer that cannot be mentioned. Most china buffs will recognize the rather intricate designs, which are visible, but without the usual vibrant colors. This makes for a very classy look. The sales tag reads half off the usual price, i.e. a $200 place setting for five is $100. The handsome serving pieces are also marked at half off, as is the crystal stemware from the same manufacturer.

Most of the inventory is first quality, and almost all of it is made in Europe. But there are some dazzling buys in seconds, which means it may have a bubble on the bottom. And occasionally something comes via Europe, though it was not made there. Anyone shopping Harrod's recently might have seen some charming cheese shakers in the forms of cats and mice. Hertz spotted them selling for $45 American, saw that they were made in Los Angeles, purchased some seconds and is selling them at $9.50.

The Almost & Perfect English China Shop, 14519 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 905-6650; Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. MasterCard, Visa.

WEEKEND SUPERSALE: The well-known manufacturer of outdoor gear, Patagonia, has an outlet store in Ventura called Real Cheap Sports. It is a deal on any given day, but every so often, Real Cheap Sports has a sale and then, my friends, the deals are superb. That sale started yesterday and will be on through Monday. Expect reductions from 30% to 70% on clothing and some gear for the best camping weekend ever. Real Cheap Sports, 36 W. Santa Clara St., Ventura. (805) 648-3803.

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