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Store Tour

Hemingway and Pickett in Echo Park

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Those of us who love shopping understand it’s appeal. It’s a therapeutic, inspiring, and sometimes mindless way to relax. The smallest pattern, color or function can elicit a number of joyful responses as you scan the display shelves seeking something useful. Or something that just plain makes you feel good. In the midst of this euphoria, it may be hard to understand why your husband/friend/child/etc. has found the only chair near the exit to plop in and shoot daggers at you from across the room with their eyes. I get it. Not all shops are geared towards everyone — namely, those masculine in nature. Well, Hemingway and Pickett nails shopping for everyone, even dudes. With everything from backpacks to bowties, necklaces to knives and the occasional taxidermy animal, there’s something fun for everyone. Commence virtual tour…
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Owner: Toby Burke Hemingway

1. How long have you been in business and how did you get started?
The store opened in 2011. I don’t really recall how I got started, honestly. I guess 10 years or so writing and performing in the music business just wore me out and I wanted to do something close to home, something tangible and “undownloadable”. It all happened it a bit of a haze – a small idea that kept getting more serious somehow.

I was always bad at selling myself, but good at selling my friends – so it started just by wanting to help sell the great work of a lot of creative people I had met over the years as a musician. It was either stay in music and risk getting really bitter and tired and more drunk, or do something completely different. I guess this is my “completely different”.

I borrowed a little money to start us off and went for it. Music involves a lot of risk and vulnerability, so it didn’t really feel that intimidating to open a store.

2. Why did you choose this location to open your business?
Probably just because it’s at the end of my street! That sounds lazy, but I also felt confident that I knew the neighborhood pretty well (and what people here would be looking for), as I’d already lived here for 4 or 5 years.

3. How would you describe your store’s style/aesthetic?
Friendly, practical, surprising, a little masculine and definitely with a sense of humor.

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4. Where did you get your name from and what other names did you consider?
Hemingway and Pickett was the name of a business my grandfather owned in Melbourne, Australia (where I was born and raised). It was started by his grandfather (my great great grandfather) in 1888. It was sold out of the family around the time I was born and the name disappeared. I wanted to revive it. I never considered another name. I think once I made that connection to my past and the retailing in my blood, it all made sense to me and I had the confidence to do something so far removed from my former profession. The name also keeps me honest and working hard, I feel a great responsibility to only do good with it.

5. What types of items are your best sellers?
It really varies. I designed a keychain for the store that says “I hope I never lose you.” I think that’s our best seller, which I never would have guessed. We also sell a lot of affordable art, which pleases me a great deal, supporting independent artists is a big part of why I wanted to have the store.

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6. What item do you have in the store now that you would want to have in your home?
We have a few rare Australian taxidermy pieces that aren’t for sale, they’re just for people to check out (a kangaroo head my mother gave me, an emu, a kookaburra). I’d love to have them at home, but I get a kick out of so many people being able to see them too.

7. What have you been inspired by lately?
I’m still inspired by all the things that inspired me as an artist – music, books, film, artwork. But I think travel is still my number one inspiration. I’ll go just about anywhere and feel inspired. Just getting out of the day-to-day helps my mind open up a great deal.

8. Is there something you thought would sell really well but didn’t?
Oh boy. Happens all the time. All part of the fun! The store would be pretty boring if we didn’t take chances.

9. Where do you mainly source your items from?
Lots of different ways. Traveling. Trade shows. The web. People approaching us – we’ve found a lot of great things directly from artists and makers. We sell a lot of Australian goods that I’ve found through friends down there and from regularly visiting home with fresh eyes.

10. What was the first big lesson you learned from opening your store?
Be open and be stocked.

11. What would your one piece of advice you would give to small businesses?
Listen to your customers.

12. What stores do you shop at?
I tend to stay pretty local – Origami Vinyl, Skylight Books, Old Style Guitars, Individual Medley – I creep around those from time to time.

13. Do you have any plans to expand your inventory?
We’re always trying to cram more stuff in here! Sometimes I have to stop myself so that the store stays spacious and inviting, and doesn’t turn into a finely curated hoarder’s den. Although, that sounds kind of fun, come to think of it…

14. What trends, if any, are you tired of?
I love the California desert, my family and I spend a lot of time out there… but for god’s sake, stylists… let it go.

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Here are some hand-picked selections…

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There you have it. Lots of local vibes and well-made goods for those of all persuasions. This concludes your PSA on shopping equality. Head over to Hemingway and Pickett in Echo Park at 3208 Sunset Blvd.
All photos by Jessica Isaac for EHD
Want more of my LA vintage stores that I’m stupidly, publicly revealing? Check these out: Sunbeam Vintage | Gibson | Hammer + Spear | Poketo | Inheritance

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  1. I’m so glad that you put a list of all the LA stores you’ve been posting about, because I was just thinking that I need to go back through your blog and bookmark them all! I’m about to move into a new apartment and I need to DECORATE.

    This store looks amazing, and Toby is very handsome as well 🙂 (sorry, that’s creepy.)

    1. I thought he was really handsome too, so not creepy.

  2. i really like these ‘store tour’ posts. i wonder if as you are putting these together, would you be willing to compile a Los Angeles city guide? maybe a map that highlights the different neighborhoods and shows which of your favorite shops/bars/restaurants are close to each other to make it easier to figure out how to make the most of a few days? there seem to be so many amazing places but for those of us who are unfamiliar with LA, the info is a little hard to consolidate.

    as an example, i love this city guide of cape town. (p.s. if you haven’t been you should go). just wish it had a map!

    http://www.capetowncityguide.co.za

    1. Yes please to that! I don’t get out there as often as I used to and don’t want to miss a thing.

  3. We have a store like this in Louisville, Revelry, and I find myself spending way too much time in there from time to time, just perusing what they’ve got in and taking photos. What’s even better is that it’s all from local artists, win, win for sure.

    Josh | The Kentucky Gent
    http://thekentuckygent.com

  4. Love the name! And where he gets his inspiration!

  5. I love all the bright colors and exposed wood! So pretty!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  6. There is so much creativity going on in this nice store. This keychain is to the point! Love it.
    http://www.dorisleslieblau.com/blog

  7. So sorry I am not in LA(

  8. It really is fantastic. Good site

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  13. It is a very nice store.
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