The shopping mecca that changed it all in OC for anyone looking for some character and a non-commercial vibe is The LAB Anti-Mall in Costa Mesa. And now, it's celebrating 25 years of “anti-mallism” including special celebratory music performances, communal dining experiences and rotating art installations in abundance starting this summer through year-end.
In 1993, Shaheen and Linda Sadeghi created The LAB retail experiment as a bohemian, “hang out” shopping experience anchored by youthful, like-minded, complimentary and curated entrepreneurs – in protest to the homogenized retailing of the time. Although breaking away from careers in the apparel industry into a new realm of a commercial real estate, the Sadeghis have garnered national and international attention by abstaining from the look and feel of conventional retail.
Repurposing a night vision goggle factory on Bristol Street in Costa Mesa, the Sadeghis added innovative details including DG pathways, recycled broken concrete walls, community art projects, indigenous landscaping, tilted parking lot light poles and permanent scaffolding façade.
“Most important,” adds Linda, “was space allowed for a central “Living Room” area for visitors to hang, eat and simply enjoy the California outdoors.” “We wanted every corner embellished by local artists, live music playing, poetry readings; totally interactive and welcoming,” said Shaheen. “We believed if we provided a creative, colorful environment that commerce would eventually come. We realized corporate American had lost its heart, so The LAB was designed to promote connection and love.”
The LAB has served the community as a village for creatives; musicians, fashionistas and makers and continues to remain at the forefront of design, unique programming, and services. The LAB is an acronym standing for Little American Business and is proud to have supported and nurtured local small business people of all talents, products, and mediums over the years.
Merchants include Blends + Carve, Brandswalk, Buffalo Exchange, EB Denim Pop-Up @The Artery, Eye Society, May Martin, The Little Penguin Shop, Red + Blue Vintage, Urban Outfitters. Eateries include Bootleggers (opening soon), Calipoke, Good Town Doughnuts, The Gypsy Den, Habana, Hana Re, Honey & Butter Macarons, LA Brisket, Nook Coffee, PopBar, Ruin Bar and Seabirds Kitchen. Hair salons include Barber Shop and Crew Salon.
Picture Credit @maggiejae
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