"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
_ William Morris
, 19th century craftsman, designer, writer

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Shopping Celebrity Style: Brentwood Country Mart

A cross between L.A.'s  Original Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax and a pricey, upscale shopping center, the Brentwood Country Mart offers the kind of down home style one might find at Ralph Lauren's ranch in Colorado or Martha Stewart's Turkey Hill "farm"-which is to say, this is country done Hollywood style.

Sure, the whole shebang is housed within a big red barn, but we are definitely not in Kansas anymore. This is not necessarily a negative -I happen to prefer the idealized, fantasy of "country life" to the real thing. Let's just say it's more of a warning to wayward farmers who may be tempted to show up with Wranglers, roping boots and a can of chew. This here is celeb country. Hang up the reins and take the Porsche, or hybrid as the case may be...

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner were spotted shopping here just last week, and one Yelp reviewer says she has never visited the Country Mart without running into an A,B or C-lister. On my visit, however, since I require business cards, signed headshots and flashing arrows to spot celebrities, I didn't even attempt to go paparazzi. 

Instead, I played to my strengths, namely food and shopping.

We got there early and by doing so were able to score a parking spot in the itty-bitty lot. YeeHaw!

Floral shop, Botany, and independent bookstore Diesel Books were two of my fave finds!

The Country Mart's al fresco food court features local legends, Reddi Chick, Barney's Burgers, Caffe Luxxe, and Frida Taqueria. It's a no-frills, picnic table and umbrella space with a fire pit and plastic trays. 

 Sugar Paper is an absolutely wonderful stationary store chock-full of clever paper goods and decor. I spent a few minutes browsing a book on Emily Posts manners for teens...before making a gaffe of my own.

 Turns out, my large tote bag wasn't a good idea in a small shop decked out with darling little table displays....let's just say they were very gracious about the whole thing and assured me I can come back any time...

Toy Crazy was another stellar shop with a plethora of playthings to keep kids of all ages browsing happily. While I was there, one little guy was absolutely desperate for a very large, garbage truck complete with cool lights and working parts. I for one, hope Santa heard him!

The Country Mart had a truly local vibe and is clearly the kind of neighborhood hang out everyone wishes they had in their own neck of the woods. Complete with a barber shop, shoe repair, ice cream store, post office, clothing boutiques, eateries and gifts galore, the small quaint center is a throwback to Main Streets of days gone by. A place to cross off several errands at once and run into friends as well.

For the rest of us, the Country Mart offers a great little field trip and presents a fun spot for lunch, shopping and people watching. Wear dark glasses, and you may want to rethink the tote bag...

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