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Shoppers Profit From the Mistakes of Others


Many of the upscale home furnishings at Designers' Bloopers are custom pieces made for clients by local decorators . . . and most are mistakes. They are either too big, too small or the wrong fabric or finish.

Over the years, this Westside store has become a regular stop for many budget-conscious shoppers in search of something unique, top quality and way below retail. Owner Carmel Matteson opened the shop when the showroom she was managing at the Pacific Design Center was overloaded with the mistakes various designers had made.

Rather than "eat" these errors, the designers were more than willing to place them on consignment. Matteson welcomed the mistakes and opened Designers' Bloopers. That was nine years ago, and now there is an expanded version of the original on one side of the street and the recently opened Designers' Bloopers, Too just across the street.

This is where I headed. To the right as you enter is a handsome Oriental antique television cabinet with hand-painted doors that fold back. It measured 6 1/2-by-4 feet, which did not work in the space the decorator had planned. The price was $1,299, down from $3,000 wholesale.

Another interesting piece was an Italian black-lacquered hall stand with a lighted mirror. The client who ordered it had not realized the lighting would adhere to the European system.

To sell it, the price was dropped from about $1,000 to $350, and the wiring has since been changed to conform with U.S. electrical current.

Not everything in the store is a mistake. There are many showroom samples, such as an Italian deco platform bed with headboard and two night stands . . . a terrific bargain at $790, considering the retail price was more than $3,000.

Manufacturers' close-outs also make their way to Bloopers, like the woven, white leather and iron armchairs for $175 that would retail for about $700. Many of the accessories are close-outs; lamps that range from $95 to $400 are priced below wholesale.

The serendipity of shopping Bloopers stems from Matteson's whimsical streak. You are greeted in Bloopers, Too, by a bamboo bicycle with carrying cases front and rear, similar to the tuk-tuks seen in Singapore. Matteson saw one in San Francisco, tracked down the maker and now you can have your own for $600 instead of $2,500 retail.

Designers' Bloopers, 12600 Washington Blvd., Culver City (310) 398-9396; and Designers' Bloopers, Too, 12611 Washington Blvd., Culver City (310) 626-1489). Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

WEEKEND SUPERSALE: All the spring-summer apparel at My Fair Lady is marked an additional 40% to 80% off its already discounted prices on labels such as Rock Candy, Designs, Ltd., Diane Gilman and Estillo. Early fall arrivals are being reduced by 50%.

My Fair Lady, 6000 Reseda Blvd., in the rear of Alley in the Valley. (818) 881-1651.

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