LA Fridays with Bob and Tom: Santee Alley and the Los Angeles Flower Market

LA Fridays with Bob and Tom

Week 10: Santee Alley and the Los Angeles Flower Market 

Today we visit two unique downtown LA sites. Our first stop is Santee Alley, described by one person as “The antithesis of Rodeo Drive”.  It’s a scene, it’s chaotic and not for everyone but one of the most popular retail shopping areas around the LA Fashion District.  The web describes it as having the feel of a flea market or swap meet.  The majority of the merchandise are knock-offs, replicas, and cheap items.  Most of the clothing does not have a price tag which beckons haggling.  The Alley has over 150 stores and vendors selling apparel for the entire family, accessories, luggage, toys, shoes, perfume, costume jewelry, gift items, and cheap sun glasses.  There are plenty of bargains.  We often buy four pairs of sunglasses for twenty bucks.

If your stomach can handle it, try a street hot dog.  Santee Alley is an actual alley, located at 210 E. Olympic Boulevard.  It stretches from Santee Street to Maple Avenue and from Olympic Boulevard to

12th Street.  Its open 365 days a year 9:30A to 6:00PM.  There are parking lots in the area and if lucky meters.


Los Angeles Flower Market

After walking the Alley for an hour and half we drove over to the colorful Los Angeles Flower Market.  It’s only a 10min. drive to 754 Wall Street, between 7th & 8th.  The market is made up of two warehouses opposite each other.  Though mainly a wholesale distributor vendors do sell to the general public.  

LA has some wonderful flower shops but this may be the Grand-daddy.  You will be awed by the beauty and variety of the dazzling arrangements.  In addition to the common flowers such as roses, lilies and gerberas there are many other varieties of blooms with fascinating shapes and vibrant colors.  For example potted orchards come in very size for little as $5.  The prices are so reasonable that Bob purchased six dozen roses for about $35.  He distributed several roses to each house in his entire neighborhood.  If you need a vase, pots and random plant accessories such as driftwood and moss this is the place.  Usually open to the general public 8:00AM to 12:00PM. Entry is $2 to both warehouses.  There are parking lots and metered parking on the street.


When finished go to The Pantry for lunch, Figueroa and 9th.  Open since 1924, cash only.  You won’t forget this place; it’s one of Tom’s favorites.





Robert (Bob) is a PhD physicist whose career has spanned academia, government and private industry. As a faculty member of the Department of Physics at the University of Tennessee, a Branch Chief at the United States Department of Energy and Vice President of an American International Group Company, his scientific endeavors include radiation physics, environmental research, environmental insurance and nanotechnology.

Originally from the East Coast, Bob was seduced by his sons and their families (and the California weather) to leave Washington, DC after retiring in 2010. While recovering from culture shock, Bob found many outlets to reconcile his eclectic interests. As a member of Senior Scholars for over six years he continues to take courses in a myriad of subjects ranging from film to art history to brain science and finds great intellectual and social rewards in Senior Scholars and the Plato Society.

As a latent artist, he sketches scenes about town once a week with an artist friend from his college days and is attempting to learn to play the electric guitar.

On moving to Los Angeles, he found Tom Jacobson, another recent transplant. They became great friends and decided to explore their new town together leading to over 113 sites in our city. Dubbed “LA Fridays with Bob and Tom” they are happy to share their experiences with others.

Bob lives in Brentwood with Phyllis, his wife of 56 years, an education policy executive. They have two sons and four grandchildren, one of whom plays a guitar a lot better than Bob.




Thomas (Tom) is an attorney who practiced trial and constitutional law in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Born in 1938 in Bamberg Germany, he was one of the youngest passengers on the ill-fated voyage of the Damned, the SS St. Louis, turned away from Cuba in 1939.

Tom represented local civil rights activists and Dick Gregory and twice argued cases successfully in the United States Supreme Court. In 1970 he was the Democratic candidate for Wisconsin Attorney General.

Retiring in 2008, he and wife, Peggy, moved to California to join their two sons and four grandchildren, and enjoy the warm weather.

Tom has kept busy as a member of Senior Scholars and Plato for the last six years keeping his brain stimulated and active. Yoga and swimming have kept his body in shape.