This 14-block area of wholesale toy dealers is for adventurous shoppers in search of knock-off versions of popular toys. Find stuffed animals you can buy for loose change or electronic games for bigger bills. Most vendors are in the wholesale business, but plenty will also sell to anyone with cash.
Bordered by 3rd and 5th Sts., and Los Angeles and San Pedro Sts., Los Angeles, California, 90012, United States
Oct 24, 2008
I went to the Toy District in Los Angeles. It was crowded, busy, hot and a little crazy, but overall I enjoyed the experience. I wanted to share what I learned on this trip. I parked my car at one of the nearby lots. The stores use black plastic bags, and I was able to walk back and forth to my car and place my purchases in the trunk so I wouldn't carry them. I have seen people use wheeled suitcases to carry their purchases but it can be burdensome.
Be careful with all the parking lots, the signs say a certain cash amount for parking but if you read the fine print, they aren't advertising the hourly rate, the rate is only for 20 minutes. Still, the typical cost is only about $7 to $10 for the day. Also, you don't have to park in a lot just because some guy with a flag is waving at you, that's the lot's "barker". I went to the smaller stores first. The heat goes up during the day, and you'll be better off if you can walk around in the shade of the bigger buildings as the day goes on. The times are variable, so don't be surprised if some of the stores aren't open precisely at 10:00 AM. They will open very close to that time and the savings are worth the small inconvenience. I went to buy toys for my church's alternative to Halloween. Most of the toys are sold in bulk, wrapped in plastic, although each toy is often packaged individually inside the big bag. I bought traditional Yo-Yos (that light up), toy cell phones, gummy Yo-Yos, Hula-Hoops, rubic cubes, friction toy trucks and cars (pull back and they run), dolls, a case of silly string (although they will sell individually), many kinds of sticker books and sheets of stickers, a huge variety of balls, puppets, mini basketball sets, wind-up toys, glow in the dark bracelets and sticks, hair brush sets, children's watches, a huge variety of pencils, and a variety of bubble sets that were in the shape of smiling animals, cell phones, and cola bottles. I can't tell you everything else I saw, from electronics to kid's bikes to sports equipment and on and on. I should also mention that I bought some DS games for my son (there are two main stores, and some of the electronics stores sell a few things). The prices were amazing. 12 Hula Hoops for $15 ($1.25 each). A canister of glow in the dark bracelets were $6 for 100 (that's 6 cents each). The friction (pull back and they run) 6-inch race cars/trucks were 12 for $6 or 50 cents each! The 12 rubic cubes were also $6. Some of the smaller items can go for less, as low as 20 cents each. Obviously, I went in there to buy in bulk, and that's when you should consider it. Party favors, goodie bags, large families or friends getting together to buy, or as I did, for my church event. You should also consider it for fundraisers. I walked away with literally hundreds of items to be used for prizes at my church's halloween alternative. Of course I had to consider cost, the fact that I was shopping for different age groups, as well as the fact that I needed toys for both boys and girls. In total, I spent $200.00. Just checking some of the prices at large stores, I know the savings were incredible. Some stores sell baby clothes and shoes, since they have so many families coming into the area. Aside from these, there are a few small to medium-size stores that sell things such as candies, pinatas, party decorations and similar items. Food and drink is readily available from street vendors. Don't forget the alleys, alot of good deals can be found here too (clothes, party supplies, DVDs and more). Shopping at the district can be facilitated if you speak Spanish (sometimes Chinese or Korean) but it isn't absolutely necessary. The streets are swept by the city but still look very old. I can't say that it's pretty, but I didn't need it to be. Security isn't really an issue, there are primarily familes there even though a rescue mission and similar facilities are very close by. I saw LAPD and Toy District private security in cars and on bikes so I felt very safe, even though I had cash. I used a fanny pack with the pouch in front, so I knew where my money was at all times. Lastly, there now are restrooms. It was so hot though that I sweated out mostly everything anyway. On one trip, I recall using a restroom in one of the buildings, but that was because the vendor took mercy on my son(they usualy say they don't have a restroom). I believe some of the buildings have restrooms businesses. The cost is as little as 25 cents, but I always go with the little one in the main buidling in the middle of the district. This one seems to be run by one older Mexicana lady that keeps the restrooms extremely clean.