>Things to To – Shopping somewhere in between Downtown and Bankers Hill

14 Jun

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My new favorite shopping district isn’t much of a district at all—not quite Downtown and not exactly Bankers Hill, but somewhere in between. It’s unassuming save for the bar bookends—Tin Can Alehouse and the yes-there-are-drunks-outside-at-9 a.m. SRO Lounge. It’s the 1800 block of Fifth Avenue.

We’ll start our journey at SRO—or, rather, right outside of SRO. Just next door is the humorously named (to me) Gallery of Fitness (1811 Fifth Ave.), ingeniously subtitled “The Art of Movement” but curiously sporting the URL plan-b-fitness.com. I love the illustrations of people bending into the A the R and the T on the shop’s sign. I have no idea if the instruction is creative or especially colorful, but the facility is pretty darn attractive.

Next is Double Break Gallery (1821 Fifth Ave.,), a new art space (for reals this time, not metaphorically) and shop run by two recent UCSD MFA grads, Matt Coors and Louis M. Schmidt. At 6 p.m. this Friday, June 17, at 6 p.m. they’ll open their first exhibition, Gravity and Trajectory, showcasing the work of Sadie Barnette, Micki Davis and Scott Lyne. In general, they’ll be selling art books, artist-commissioned T-shirts and other cool objects,  and they have a film screening and book-signing party on the horizon. There’s a release party scheduled during Comic-Con for Wuvable Oaf, a pretty great comic book by Ed Luce. That points to good things to come.

Broken Heart Tattoo (1833 Fifth Ave., 619-237-0058) is next. I can’t vouch for the artistry—I don’t know anyone who’s been tattooed here, but I have to say, the place has a great vibe and it’s gotten stupendous reviews online. Very pirate-y!

Moving on, there’s the new location of the Undercarriage (1837 Fifth Ave.,), the locally renowned and brilliantly named cootchie waxers. They don’t just do Brazilians; they do men’s Brazilians! And they do what they refer to as “The Classy Chassis” (custom designs). They wax the jawline, eyebrows, underarms, legs and so on, as well as give a variety of facials. But that’s not why most people come here. It’s for the Brazilian in the Baroque atmosphere.

Further down is JG Color Studio (1843 Fifth Ave.,), which has a beautifully dressed window that was sort of like a riddle: What does a wedding dress, orange kitchen scale and a vintage typewriter have in common? I have no flipping idea—and the place is by-appointment-only, which just left even more questions unanswered. Turns out the space belongs to Jennifer Guerin, interior designer, painter and “color specialist” once featured on an HGTV reality show. Ignore that; I once saw a mural Guerin did at a friend’s mom’s house and it was truly stunning. What she has to do with wedding dresses, I still don’t know.

However, it was the next space that had me most confused. It housed two unique businesses—Star Grooming (1845 Fifth Ave., 619-571-1795), which is no ordinary pet washer but, rather, a “professional pet stylist,” and Pet Portraits (619-742-6588), which, I presume is where you make your dog a star.

But the primary reason to visit the 1800 block of Fifth Avenue is our final stop: Tasha’s Music City (1859 Fifth Ave., 619-233-4664). Sure, it reeks of cigarette smoke, and you’ll leave with dried, gray, filthy fingers, but it’s all worth it for the vinyl—wall-to-wall-to-wall vinyl. I used to go to Tasha’s when it was in Downtown proper, but, apparently, that was more than eight years ago. When I posed the rhetorical “How have I missed you here all these years?” the owner replied, “Well, the sign used to blink, but no more.” The records run $6 and up. I love 45s, and this place has a lot of them, starting at $1. (I did see one for 50 cents: Michael Bolton.) David Allen Coe, Cameo and Betty Wright all came in around $3 each. You do have to reach over stacks of boxes to get to the 45s but it—like the dirty fingers and smoky hair—is worth it.   


Write to clea@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com.

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