MONTANA: Empty stores no more. SMDP file photo


Five new stores have all opened within the last six months with still more to come.

A flurry of new stores opening along Montana Avenue suggests that the impending economic doom currently facing much of the country hasn’t reached this serene corner of Santa Monica just yet.

Five new stores have all opened within the last six months with still more to come. Poketo (1233 Montana Ave) is a quirky, colorful collection of everything you didn’t know you needed, from kitchen utensils to home office supplies. Divine Vintage (1025 Montana Ave) combines an impressive range of wines, from all over the world together with vintage clothing and jewelry. Thomus Bikes (1314 Montana Ave) is the very first outlet outside of the company’s home country of Switzerland and offers a range of high-end, carbon fiber bikes for road and mountain riding and almost everything in between. Else Lingerie (1318-B Montana Ave) is an outlet of the up-market US lingerie brand. Casa Cu (923 Montana Ave) offers clothing, glass and ceramic ware from designers from Latin America.

Montana Ave is unquestionably at the upmarket end of Santa Monica’s spectrum and for about 10 blocks between 7th and 17th Street you can find a strip of boutique stores, cafes, bars and arguably the nicest Citibank in the continental US. If window shopping, leisurely wandering and listening to an almost seamless blend of hits from the 80s is your thing, this is an area you should definitely explore.

While two of these five new outlets come from bigger, more established origins, the other three are standalone stores that are totally unique to the area. While significantly smaller than Beverly Hills, another popular area that perhaps remains a tad too pricey for most of us, Montana turns its diminutive dimensions into a positive by creating a close community environment.

“This is not a run-of-the-mill shopping district, it’s a warm and approachable neighborhood that also respects elevated design,” said Suze Dowling, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of Pattern Brands, the parent company of Poketo. “This unique combination is hard to find, and incredibly special when you do.”

“I’ve seen this street shift and change with all sorts of different themes. For a while there, it was all nail salons and then it became all skin care stuff. I’ve seen it go from gas stations and hardware stores too and now it seems to be going a little more artisanal,” said Jennifer Rush, owner of Divine Vintage.

Along with the site on Montana, Else Lingerie has another brick and mortar store on Melrose, while its head office is in Istanbul, Turkey. Area Manager Emma Sauer said, “The reason we opened this store was because we have a huge clientele on the Westside, but if you know anything about the 10 [freeway], you’re not about to spend an hour in traffic to get to Melrose. So it was more of a strategic move for us to be accessible to people from Santa Barbara, Pacific Palisades, Malibu and Santa Monica.”

More stores, both independent and existing national brands, are set to open their doors along Montana soon including FaceGym (1034 Montana Ave), where — as the name suggests — you can fully focus on your facial fitness, building your ​​buccinator or giving your risorius a rigorous workout. Even the website says, “Think you’ve seen it all? You’ve never seen anything like this.”

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Scott Snowden

Scott Snowden started with the SMDP in 2023 with a long list of journalistic experience. He has written local and international investigative work in Forbes, The Sunday Times, The Financial Times, The...