Echo Park Style: Sunday’s Best (My Ode to John Hughes)

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Echo Park ForumsI picked Sunday’s Best as the first in the showcase of Echo Park’s vintage and thrift shops, because this is one of those amazing finds, where someone might begin Christmas shopping immediately.

The best part of Sunday’s Best?  The best prices!

I found out the great way, through pleasant surprise.

Our first weekend in EP, we decided to take a walk down Sunset and check out the new neighborhood.  This memory is so vivid because my daughter was going to start her sophomore year of high school the next day.

So we walk past the shop and my daughter sees this amazing vintage dress in the window.  Without hesitating, I tell her to go in and check it out.  

But then I have a moment of mother’s dread.  What was I thinking?  

It’s unassuming in every way, but this is definitely a hip neighborhood.  I was reminded by all the twenty-somethings I work with when I let them know I had finally found a great place to live in Echo Park.  

So I watch my teen wander into Sunday’s Best and feel terrible that they’re going to snub her when she asks how much for that pretty polka dot dress in the window and it’s (I guessed) around $100—not in this mom’s budget.  

How wrong I was!  

That amazing vintage dress was incredibly affordable (can’t recall the exact price so I won’t try).  But I will tell you this, it was so much so that as the shop attendant smiled and put up the next dress to replace the dress we bought, my daughter loved that dress as well.  They were both so affordable that mom could buy that one too!  (Honestly, I think I got them both for under $30.  No kidding.)

Now, I understand that not all of us are under quite as strict budgets, but I think anyone appreciates a great deal, right?

Actually, I always walk away (happy with my latest find) but asking, how does that place make any money? 

Behind the Scenes with Sunday’s Best

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Shop Owner Denisse Rodarte and employee Anthony

Owner Denisse Rodarte explains that part of her business plan before she even opened was making her shop affordable to everyone.  And much like Kate Hudson, it’s Rodarte’s close family ties and upbringing that instilled these core beliefs.

“My dad’s been in the thrift business his whole life,” Denisse explains.

In the early seventies, Rodarte’s father emigrated from Mexico to the US when he was a teen.  He and his entire family, including aunts, settled in Echo Park.  

“One of the first jobs he ever got was working at a warehouse where they would buy thrift clothes.  And they would ship it to different countries or ship it around the United States, and he would sweep the floor,” she says.

“He literally went from sweeping the floors to managing to opening his own business.”  

Denisse says most of her family moved out of Echo Park in the eighties, and they now live in Bell, where she grew up and went on to college.  

By the age of 30, however, Rodarte returned to her roots.  

She recalls, “So I started coming back to Echo Park, and I was like, I remember these streets as a kid.  I remember going to the park.  I remember my aunt used to live in this big old Victorian-type looking house down on Douglas.”  

Rodarte laughs at family memories of an aunt singing karaoke at Barragans and all the stories her dad told of those days in the 70’s, and the club scene in Echo Park back then.

“I started remembering a lot of my youth,” Rodarte says.  “And realizing, you know, this is amazing.  I love this community.  I love that it’s such a melting pot.  I love that you can go to a bar and then hop and then go to a restaurant and then you know, listen to a good band. “

But something else was mixed in with her nostalgia, Rodarte remembers.  “I wanted to change course.”

The only girl among four brothers, Denisse has watched her father work six and seven days a week since she was a young girl. She graduated college and began working in TV and Film, but quickly became disenchanted.

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Sunday’s Best Store Front, on Sunset Blvd.

She went to work for non-profits, where she hoped to make a difference.  There, too, she found the less desirable aspects of business, even in the non-profit sector.

At the same time, she knew her father was going to keep up his work pace, with no one to carry on his years of dedication.  “I started thinking that he’s worked his whole life to build this business,” she explains.

“One day I was sitting at Masa of Echo Park, and I was watching people pass by.  And I thought, ‘these people have some great sense of style.'”

Rodarte saw people dressed in fashions from the 50’s, 70’s, to today, and everything in-between, and loved the daring statements residents here displayed—what she felt was truly LA.

“I was like it would be amazing to have a thrift store here,” she exclaims.

Although her father never owned retail stores, he had continued in the thrift and vintage business by dealing with what are called “rag houses”, where charities and churches sell donated overflow items. 

“The clothing isn’t sold by the piece.  It’s sold by the pound,” Denisse says.  “They bulk sell it.  But you’re buying blindly,” explains Rodarte.

Her father sold to different vintage shops in LA and all over the United States.  He had clients from all over the world and met with great success.

When he heard his daughter’s idea to open a thrift and vintage shop in his old neighborhood of Echo Park, “My dad’s like, ‘You’re crazy.  You don’t know what you’re doing,’” Denisse admits.

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Doc Marten’s Boots, $15-25

But Denisse was not easily discouraged, and the family-owned and run business has proven the only girl in the Rodarte family had the right idea after all.  

She says, “To me, it was bringing everything full circle.”  She combined her belief in community-activism and love of family to achieve her goal.  And make a lot of people in the neighborhood really happy.  

“To me it’s like it was kind of poetic,” Denisse admits, of the success so far.

The business has already expanded to take over the space next door when it became available.  The family also opened a second location in Maywood, where business is doing just as well, under her brothers’ management.

Denisse handpicks the items for both locations.  Out of thousands and thousands of pieces, her aunts then steam clean each and every piece.  Prices are kept as low as they are because of dad’s lifelong connections.  

Denisse’s close friends Danielle and Adriana are incredible and will likely be there when you drop in to shop.  Most likely, though, Denisse’s cousin will be standing behind the register—the tall, silent, “are guys his age really still that polite and friendly” kind of guy, Anthony.

Far from snubbing anyone, this hip store is totally a neighborhood hangout.  No doubt.  But secretly, here’s my real favorite part of going into Sunday’s Best:  The music!

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Christmas Vintage Sweaters, $5-15

Denisse admits, Yes, when I ask if they carefully pick the tracks for the shop’s playlist.

I tell her, “Sunday’s Best is the John Hughes of vintage/thrift stores in Echo Park.”

“I love John Hughes,” exclaims Rodarte.

“No, really” I insist.  “You are the Pretty in Pink of vintage and thrift.”  

And it’s true.  The music, the kind vibe, the way they wrap their arms around you in a fashion hug (as long as they pick up that you’re up for it), the staff at Sunday’s Best truly embodies what Kate Hudson talks about in a healthy relationship with fashion: Real, sometimes surprising, personal, comfortable even while wearing a sports bra (it just may inspire a work out) and, finally, affordable.

Sunday’s Best is both a thrift and vintage shop, nicely divided by separate rooms.  They also have “Dollar Vintage” on Saturdays!  Right now you can grab amazing Christmassy vintage sweaters (photographed) from $5 to $15.  You can also find amazing deals on vintage blankets, quilts, and accessories. 

Finally, Papi Rodarte’s tip to his daughter was to sell what I call “Faux Doc Marten’s” (photographed above).  These are brilliant, brand new, and range in price from $15 (low tops) to $25 (boots). 

Sunday’s Best Shop Details

Echo Park ForumsSunday’s Best could almost be missed.  It’s on Sunset, sort of nestled between the 99 cent shop and an odds-and-ends store, between Echo Park Avenue and La Veta Terrace.  (It’s next to Barragan’s parking lot.)

Address:

1547 and 1549 W. Sunset Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90026

Neighborhood: Echo Park

(213) 986-5695

Hours:

Mon-Thu, Sun 11 am – 7 pm

Fri-Sat 11 am – 8 pm

Oh yeah, and people seem to love them on Yelp.

 

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Photo credits: Sunday’s Best logo courtesy of Sunday’s Best. Picture of Denisse and Anthony, Christmas Sweaters, and Doc Marten’s Boots, courtesy of Margaret Leyva. Photos were taken and used with the consent of Sunday’s Best. Store-front images provided by Yelp user Mim Z.

Writer Heather McTear, a local of Echo Park, is a vintage/thrift shop enthusiast. She welcomes us to appreciate the vintage scene in Echo Park. To join a conversation about this topic, simply leave a comment below. The comments are an extension of our Echo Park Forums.