Hidden Treasures in Topanga Canyon

Submitted by Douglas Wood July 3rd, 2010
Certifikitsch Winner

Hidden Treasures is a vintage clothing store in Topanga Canyon, California where I live. I love it because it typifies the spirit of this canyon which has always been a haven for hippies, artists, actors, musicians and other non-conformists. It’s a miracle, but Topanga has somehow managed to retain its funky charm since the sixties despite the influx of yuppies through the years.

As you can see from these photos, this shop has everything but the kitchen sink in terms of its appearance: Victorian architecture, pirates, Tiki, and yes, that’s a dinosaur head in the top photo on the upper left-hand side. The store has mostly vintage clothes, but there’s also some kitschy antiques and collectibles and old movie props (at the kind of prices you’d expect for L.A., unfortunately.) It’s also THE place to buy Halloween costumes.

I have two favorite anecdotes about this store: a few years ago I was browsing and came upon a very, very old lady sleeping on a couch in the middle of one of the interior rooms. On a later visit, I saw the same old lady (who looked like she weighed about 75 pounds) walking around with a cigarette in her hand, wearing a Granny gown, lots of scarves, jewelry, leg-warmers, a big hat and Converse high-tops on her feet. I think she may have been the mother or grandmother of the store’s owners.

The other anecdote also took place several years ago. The store used to have a little bulldog named Buddy who would walk around with a rubber pull-toy in his mouth and badger customers to play with him. I made the mistake of indulging him and he loved it so much, he would NOT leave me alone. He had an amazingly strong jaw and a tenacious grip and the harder I pulled the more he liked it. At one point I was literally swinging Buddy and the pull-toy around so vigorously that all four of his feet were off the ground. Later, when I was at the register and Buddy was butting his head against my leg, the pull-toy in his mouth, trying to get me to play with him some more, the clerk said, “Stop it, Buddy!” and then to me, “we discourage customers from playing with him, because we don’t want him to become aggressive.” (Apparently, she missed the little sideshow of me swinging Buddy around like an out-of-control tilt-a-whirl.)

Above is a life-sized Cowgirl standee with a dolphin at her feet in one of the the outdoor courtyards.

The mannequin above is apparently contending with frisky sea creatures.

Fellow Akitschianados– if you’re driving through the canyon, to or from the ocean, and you see this sign, I encourage you to stop in and check it out.

7 Responses to “Hidden Treasures in Topanga Canyon”

  1. Allee Willis

    Everything you say about Topanga is true. I used to make daily treks there my first few years in LA in the late 70s because one of my best friends and collaborators lived there, Toni Basil, brilliant choreographer known best for her hit song, “Mickey” (and with whom I’m having dinner tonight at Street). But all times that I’ve driven up the canyon I never actually stopped at this store which I now feel like jumping in my car and going to immediately. That won’t happen today as I am so overladen with deadlines getting my Pomplamoose songs/ videos and online games ready for the release of our first effort together, ‚ÄúJungle Animal‚Äù, (had to get a plug in there) but I can assure you I’ll never drive over the canyon again without pulling into this parking lot. Buddy is probably long departed but it appears that I can find a lot more to hold my attention there. Thank you for this excellent tour, Douglas!

  2. Lisa Rios

    I couldn’t really afford this shop but I LOVE it! It would be a regular stop every time I’d go up to Topanga Canyon. It’s been nearly 9 years since I’ve been there and I’m happy to see that nothing much has changed. I too have seen the old lady w/the scarves. It really is like stepping into a John Waters film. And who doesn’t love that?

    Yes Allee, you really should stop in there. You may even re-vist this post and think Camembert. The place is that good. I think picture 4 w/the floating weirdo 1950’s heads says it all.

  3. denny

    I always loved Topanga!

    Please tell Toni I am the one who gave you the paper bag sleeve. Do you think it would be possible to hold up a “Hello sign”. I was just telling a friend here about the menu and all the fabulous food I consumed. I still can’t believe that bread at “Street”.

  4. Douglas Wood

    I think the heads (which are probably from mannequins or displays) are just situated on top of the old lighting fixtures– don’t think they’re part of the original lamps.