Last weekend, Bodega slid in my email inbox with an invitation to a book signing they were hosting at their place. I originally pulled up to Bodega to write an article on the event, but I personally felt that the event was underwhelming, so I’m not even going to waste time talking about it. The book, Chicken and Charcoal, is something you can look up and read about on your own time. To be fair, it is a well acclaimed book, with great things about it, but this is Clean Your Shoes, not Clean Your Plate, so I won’t discuss that here.
I will discuss Bodega Los Angeles, however. Situated at The Row DTLA, you have to be particularly savvy about either The Row DTLA or just what Bodega looks like, because I spent a cool 10-15 minutes trying to figure out just where it was in the complex. This is the second time; the first time was upon a visit to A+R for a meet and greet. Perhaps I missed it walking in, but I didn’t see any signs outside of Bodega which would indicate that the place was indeed, Bodega. The only reason I had any idea it was Bodega was because I saw two security guards outside of the place checking IDs for the aforementioned book signing. Fine.
The entrance of Bodega is something that you would see in a meat shop: plastic clear curtains that lead to a cold (which I am using in no less than two ways) corridor with a bunch of wooden crates and other things reminiscent of such an establishment. Either Bodega retrofitted a former butchery for its Los Angeles storefront, or it was purposely done to look like the back side of a bodega. Either way, it works. When you walk in, Bodega looks exactly that: a bodega. A spacious bodega, I add, as when you first enter from the corridor, shelves of sneakers line the walls on the leftmost side of the store. The latest collabs and drops easily accessible at your fingertips, if you wanted. Very few general release models were on the shelves. In the middle space, a display with a lot of 90’s nostalgia propping and complimenting the arrangement of latest sneakers, magazines, and clothing the store has to offer. Both the curio and the sneakers have been carefully curated and provide further reinforcement of the bodega environment and feel.
If you look to your right, there is a little more, and in a little less space. Under the stairway, there sits a small room that literally looks like a bodega. When you walk in, rows of Bodega merchandise and accessories are mixed and sprinkled in between canned goods, syrups, soaps, cleaning supplies, etc, with a little nook for a cashier stand. A bodega inside of a Bodega. A little further past that room is another room that has been set to look like a cleaners, adorned with a clothes rack and white collared shirts hanging from it. And finally, in the back of that space, is a room that, at the time of this writing, was a room marked Vans x Ralph Steadman. And it was no wonder that the room was lined up with mostly Vans, not just from the Ralph Steadman collaboration, but also other models from Vans Vault, and a wall that was dedicated to headwear.
At the base of the stairs leading up to the second floor is a classic letter board further welcoming you to Bodega and what I assumed to be the theme of the collection and/or decoration going on at the store. The stairs were just stairs; nothing spectacular about them.
On the second floor, the feel is a bit different from the ground floor. Much more spacious than the ground floor, the second floor was an open space with a small wooden shelf along the wall with more hats and accessories greeting you as you get to the floor. On it’s right, I small botanical display with some more of Bodega’s hat offerings. A few of their shirts and shorts hung in mid-air from the aerial decorations that lined the walls. As you move further along the second floor, there is another small wooden shelf, this time displaying some of the most classic and greatest hip-hop and r&b records. A small chair, a peculiar painting, and a table with more curio were lined up to the right of it.
There was a third floor, but due to the event taking place, there was something at the stairwell blocking the path. Looking at the letterboard at the base of the stairs, I can only imagine it contained the actual clothing and wear from brands that Bodega carries, seeing as there weren’t many clothes options available on the ground floor or the second.
I didn’t end up purchasing anything at Bodega that night, and I probably couldn’t outside of the book for which they threw the event for, but another given day I find myself at The Row, I’ll be sure to have a grip of cash on me. CYS endorses Bodega.