First-timers have no fear, the Santee Alley is here... to give you the inside scoop on how to shop the alley like a pro! Our veteran shoppers know there a few tips and tricks to follow to make the most out of your shopping experience. The Santee Alley is unlike any other outdoor shopping experience on the West Coast. If you've never been to the alley before, it's important to note it is actually an alley! The main entrance is on Olympic Boulevard between Santee Street and Maple Avenue, and we suggest you start your shopping here and make your way down. So put on your walking shoes and follow our lead for the ultimate Santee Alley shopping experience!
1. Check out the LA Fashion District website. The LA Fashion District website offers "Shopping Hints" for the entire district that cover all the basics, like wear comfortable shoes, bring cash, and don't be afraid to bargain. They also have a helpful listing of the most commonly used industry terms. For example, "overrun" refers to extra merchandise that's been left after retailers have filled their orders, and they are often sold at discounted prices. If you've never visited Santee Alley, we highly recommend you download a map.
2. Park in a lot. One of the most important reasons to bring cash is to pay for parking. There are meters throughout the district, but we suggest parking in all day lot. The most affordable lots are usually cash-only. There are multiple lots located around the alley. Look for the parking lot employees waving flags. They stand outside the parking entrance to wave cars in. Please note, all parking lots are privately owned. Locate parking lots near the alley here.
3. Everything is final sale. Most stores in the alley will not accept returns or exchanges. This means all items are final sale, as is. Make sure to inspect your items before you purchase them to ensure you have the correct size, they are not damaged, etc.
4. Try it on! Once upon a time, dressing rooms were basically non-existent. Now days, many stores in the alley offer fitting rooms for their customers. If fitting rooms are available, always try it on to avoid running into problems with tip number three. Insider tip: Special occasion/prom dresses are not all cut the same. You may be a different size in different dresses. ALWAYS try the dress you are going to purchase on, before you pay. Even if it's the same dress in the same size you tried on at a different store, try it on again!
5. Take advantage of wholesale pricing. "Wholesale" refers to the business of selling large quantities of goods, typically to be sold in retail stores. Wholesale buyers must have business licenses, and they are offered better pricing because they are buying in bulk. However, you don't need a business license to get a good deal. Many businesses in the alley will offer wholesale pricing to their regular shoppers so long as they meet the item minimum (the minimum varies by store). They will also allow you to mix-and-match sizes and styles. Insider tip: Take some friends shopping with you and combine your purchases to meet the item minimums. Many of the stores will allow it!