NICK METROPOLIS: Trash and Treasure at LA’s Most Unique Vintage Shop

100 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

A familiar sight to LA locals rolling down La Brea is the massive lot of recycled treasure known as Nick Metropolis Collectible. To everyone else, open your eyes and gawk away at the insanity on display here; it's pretty outrageous and you won't find many other places in weirdo Los Angeles, or anywhere, like it.

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Some might call it a magical garbage dump come alive, while others might foam at the mouth, feverishly browsing around at the hundreds of discarded trinkets for sale. Either way, there isn't much actual garbage here, just a bunch of really cool artifacts piled up, scattered about and arranged into an enormous blob of vintage memorabilia. It's like an open air market (or maybe a graveyard of sorts?) for some of Hollywood's wackiest and most random items from its sordid past.

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There's a lot of special things going on at Nick's: used signs, weird art, unique furniture, and amazing relics from closed down businesses across California. You never know what you'll run into.

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Need a portrait of a sad clown? Check. Could you use a garden gnome wearing a tuxedo for your front lawn? Of course you could. How about a neon sign promoting cherry slushees? Nick's got you covered! I kid you not, they have everything under the sun here, and you might even stumble across something that brings all of those feelings back. A win for all!

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That's not to say that it's all fun and games here, Nick's is also pretty good at dishing out the nightmare fuel, offering creepy mannequins, terrifying posters/props and who could forget this winner:

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Roaming around this place can best be described as being stuck in a real life version of 'The Descent,' but with a distinct lack of those creepy creatures running around on the ceiling. People with claustrophobia need not apply in these parts, as it can be a bit overwhelming to experience the darkest corners without a flashlight and a valium. At Nick's you're just a rat in a maze-- scurrying about, and looking for that sweet slice of cheddar.

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And aside from the shopping, I gotta say that the best part about visiting Nick's is the adrenaline rush one gets from surviving the experience; this place is basically a death trap. There're so many labyrinths, nooks and crannies that one could easily go missing for weeks and possibly starve to death. They should be dishing out those corny shopping cart flags that Target has, or enforcing the old buddy system while exploring. Just do whatever it takes to survive and see the light again.

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And don't discount the danger involved with grabbing something and ending up on the wrong end underneath an aquarium. There's stuff on top of stuff on top of stuff around these parts, so watch out from above. 

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And alas, like most establishments that throw around the word "antique" Nick's isn't easy on the wallet. A vintage Ronald McDonald piggy bank might run you a few hundred bucks, but it seems like Nick will fairly haggle with ya. Remember kids, one man's trash is another's treasure, and vintage means big $$$ for the right clientele, even if that gumball machine sold for only twenty bucks back in 1988.

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But no need to purchase anything, it's more than worth stopping by and seeing into the legendary realm that is Nick Metropolis. Whether you need movie props that'll take your production to Mars, or are just looking to spruce up your crib with some gnarly Hollywood memorabilia, Nick's got ya!

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HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN?

Known locally as the "King of Collectables" Nick Metropolis (his real name, he swears...) has been keeping this wacky store alive for 20+ years.

After leaving his hometown of Rochester, NY in the 1960s, Nick arrived in LA with big dreams to make it as a singer. Billing himself as a "George Harrison Impersonator" Nick eventually ditched the singing for acting (he still has his headshots from back in the day) until he decided to start selling random items on street corners to make ends meet. This hobby eventually paved the way for the insanity you see on display today.

With rents rising all over LA Brea, Nick claims the shop is in constant danger of shuttering, but that he's always a "sale away" from paying bills on time. Plus, it also helps to have a steady celeb client base that includes Bruno Mars, Iggy Azalea and most of the Hollywood Studios.

 

 

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