February 26, 2016

All Signs Point to Hollywood at Nick Metropolis (Updated for 2019)

Update 6/23/19 9:55 PM PT: Nick Metropolis closed its LaBrea location on 6/11/19. Visit Nick Metropolis at its new location, 1846 West Adams Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90018.

I remember somewhere downtown on Houston Street in New York City, there used to be this place on the corner that was basically just a junk pile of old signs, except I think they were all for sale.

I never stopped in to visit, partially because it was usually nighttime if I was down in that neighborhood, and I was therefore on a mission.

But I also think I knew I'd be inclined to spend money I didn't have on pieces of pop culture that I didn't need...but, in the moment, would want desperately.

I think that's why Nick Metropolis* Collectibles on LaBrea [Ed: Now on West Adams Blvd.] caught my eye.

Especially because if I'm ever in this area, it's generally daytime.

While in New York, one man's trash might be another man's treasure... Hollywood, you can make a business out of anything.

Any discarded piece of signage, point of sale merchandising, retail display, or whatever can be repurposed as a prop for a movie...

...and sold or rented out for an easy buck.

And whereas some of LA's neon signage has been scooped up by non-profits like the Museum of Neon Art and Valley Relics, the backlit plastic lettering of Starbucks and whatnot ends up here.

Maybe one day these things will be considered "historically significant"...

...but for now, they're just waiting for some prop master or set designer to pick them out of the crowd.

It's set up like a boneyard, but this isn't really where household items and bric-a-brac go to die.

Rather, it's life after death for old seats from stadiums and movie theaters...

...disembodied heads...

...with their blank stares...

...and the archaeological relics of our commercial culture.

Even if you're not in the movie biz...

...and not in the market for miscellany...'s kind of fun to walk through the corner lot...

...which is chuck cram full of stuff, hanging overhead and sticking out underfoot.

Sometimes items are posed together to help attract attention to them...

...and sometimes they seem to have lost all hope and given up.

Although these "collectibles" are a commercial endeavor for Nick, sometimes you can find some treasures out on a sidewalk table marked "Free" for friends and family and neighbors. But because everything has some purpose in Hollywood, all the free stuff has probably been snatched up already by someone else by the time you get there.

But who knows? Maybe you'll find something you never knew you needed or even wanted.

But once you've seen it, maybe you just have to have it.

Fortunately, I walked away with empty hands and a full wallet...this time.

*no relation to the American physicist who died in 1999

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Neon Boneyard, Vegas
Photo Essay: Relics from The Valley

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