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THE GUIDE / NEIGHBORHOODS: SOUTH PASADENA

Place does mom and pop proud

September 23, 2008|Christine N. Ziemba | Special to The Times

MISSION STREET in South Pasadena -- between Fair Oaks and Meridian avenues -- is a hip little enclave that could become the next Old Town Pasadena. If it wanted to, that is. There's a big difference: Except for a Carrows restaurant, Mission Street (and the rest of South Pas) generally eschews large chain retailers and restaurants. There's a legit small-town feel: Call it the anti-Grove. Dozens of mom-and-pop shops cater to the shopping demographic subpopulations ending in "-ies": the yuppies, hippies, babies and oldies. Here's just a sampling of what you'll find.

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For the music fan

Always wanted to tickle those ivories? The South Pasadena Music Center & Conservatory (1509 Mission St., [626] 403-2300, www.south) recently expanded its store and school, with a full slate of private lessons and group classes for all ages. There are free public concerts and recitals put on by students and even a "rock school" so that your kids can jam like they're in a Jack Black movie.

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For the crafty

Zinnia (1040 Mission St., No. 103, [626] 441-2181, www.zinnia.biz) is an eclectic space chock-full of knickknacks, beads and baubles that might make scrapbookers swoon. The store also offers such classes as creating jewelry, making art journals and memory boxes, and embellishing portraits. Its Funky Junque Gallery displays and sells the work of local artists. Meanwhile, needle and thread aficionados should check out Abuelita's Knitting & Needlepoint (1012 B. Mission St., [626] 799-0355, www.abuelitasknittingandneedlepoint.com). More than a yarn store, Abuelita's holds knitting, needlepoint and crochet classes throughout the week.

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For the collector

Mission Street is home to a number of antiques stores, including Etc (1110 Mission St., [626] 799-6581). Depending on your view, the quaint little shack is either filled with nostalgia -- or stuff straight out of Grandma's attic. One of the more interesting items: pages from a handwritten dictionary some ambitious soul started in the early 1800s.

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For the sweet tooth

The Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain (1526 Mission St., [626] 799-1414, www.fairoakspharmacy.net) opened in 1915, and customers can still sit at the counter and wash down their burgers with root beer floats or chocolate egg creams. But it's the ice cream specialties and sundaes that keep bringing people back. You'll need a few friends to help polish off the Kitchen Sink: eight ice cream flavors, eight toppings, diced banana and brownie chunks for $24.95. For those who need an even larger sugar fix, there's a wall dedicated to candy sold by the pound.

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For the thirsty

Mission Wines (1114 Mission St., [626] 403-9463, www.missionwines.com) is an unpretentious little wine shop with friendly staffers who won't laugh if you don't know the difference between a Rioja and a Riesling or have a wine budget of $10. There's a tasting bar at the front, where Sundays to Fridays they offer a flight of three wines for $15 (or $10 if you buy a bottle from the store). On Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m., they'll pour five samples for the same price. Wine not your thing? They've also got Pasadena's Craftsman Beer on tap for $4.

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The Guide on the Web

Visit The Guide, our tipsheet to entertainment in SoCal, for more picks, listings and reader reviews at theguide.latimes.com.

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