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STREET LEVEL

In Brentwood, quaint finds a new crowd

January 28, 2007|Mayrav Saar

SHOP owners know it. Celebrities know it. Locals know it: 'Tween girls have taken over the Brentwood Country Mart.

One thing no one knows is why.

The Mart, with its high-end kid stores, is the place to go to hunt for wooden toys with Reese Witherspoon. But journey to the center, between Barney's hamburger joint and the Reddi Chicks, and it's clear who owns this place: Taylor, Chloe, Paris and Dina.

"My brother and sister are older -- they're 15 and 17 -- and they never used to hang out here," said Chloe Karmin, 13.

What changed?

"They don't get mad at you if you loiter," said Paris Humphrey, 13.

So. Loitering.

"Hello?" Chloe said into a pink Razr phone.

"The shops are better," Paris said.

"The shops aren't better," Taylor Burns, 12, said.

"It's close to our bus stop," Paris said. "Well, not my bus stop."

Buses for Harvard-Westlake and Marlborough schools stop in front of the Mart. But is that enough to create a hangout?

"It's safe here," Chloe said, closing her phone. "Dina's coming. I want fries."

"Get me fries, and a drink," Paris said.

So, safety?

"I don't know," Paris said. "Century City asks you to leave at 9:30."

You like being able to stay here late?

"It closes here too," Taylor said.

Dina Chang, 13, arrived with fantastic gossip and a hankering for a smoothie.

"Get me a lemonade," Chloe said, handing Dina her blue clutch.

"I'm buying a drink with your money," Paris said, pawing through the clutch before disappearing into the City Bakery. Taylor evaporated through the doors, followed by Dina and a protesting Chloe.

The girls left nothing behind but 10 spent ketchup packages and an unanswered question.

-- Mayrav Saar

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