730 S. Western Ave., Koreatown
This comic book store—hidden at the top of a strip mall stairwell—consists of two rooms of floor-to-ceiling shelves tightly packed with Korean comics, manga, and graphic novels. The difference here is that you rent—not buy—what you read, and for fifteen bucks, you’re free to browse the archive and settle into one of the comfy leather sofas for an entire day (beverages and Korean shrimp crackers included), or check out a few comics to take home, like a lending library. It’s entirely normal (and encouraged) for people to set up shop for an afternoon, their feet on the table, a stack of comics—and a refreshment—by their side.
3513 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown
Poketo founders Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung—partners in business and in life—have a whimsical aesthetic that’s all their own, and their shop in the Line Hotel explodes with color and a sense of playfulness. We’re usually tempted by everything here, whether it’s the beautifully illustrated notebooks, a stack of richly patterned textiles, or a set of quirky ceramic mugs. It’s clear that much thought has gone into the store’s curation, but at the same time, nothing is taken too seriously, and you can sense the joy Vadakan and Myung must have had finding everything. We rarely leave empty-handed.