‘Tis the season for merry making, party throwing and all-around decorating. And at the corner of Melrose and Wilcox avenues is perhaps the largest party mecca in Los Angeles.
Lining the aisles of Vine American Party Store are napkins, banners, pop-ups and plates. From the simple to the extraordinary, each item will soon play an important part in someone’s unique celebration, especially in time for the holidays.
Among the thousands of items, customers will discover leaf garlands and festive trays for Thanksgiving, tiki torches and silk leis for luaus, and centerpieces and unity candles for weddings. Although the choices seem never ending, the selection wouldn’t be possible without Leslie Macias, who has been helping customers prepare for special occasions since 1979.
Macias grew up in the neighborhood and remembers visiting the party store as early as age 5 with her family. When she turned 18 and needed a job, she immediately knew where she wanted to work.
Macias began learning the tricks of the trade from the Irving family, who owned the store since 1934. Although she learned a lot about purchasing and marketing, her favorite part of the job was decorating for the holidays.
“It’s always exciting getting the new stuff in and setting it up,” said Macias, whose favorite decorating holiday is Halloween. “It’s great seeing all the new products that come in over the years.”
Macias continued working at Vine American, and in 2008, the Irvings sold the store to her. She said she’s always kept the customer-first values she learned from the original owners.
Although Vine American has a larger variety of specialty items than most big box stores – it carries more than 100,000 unique items – if they don’t have what a customer is looking for, Macias will place a special order.
“Because it’s a family business, we really care about the customers,” Macias said. “We listen to what they want and we are available to help them find, or even buy, whatever they need.”
Macias actively works with manufacturers to bring specialized items to the store. In the 1990s, they carried only five or six items for Pride month. Macias reached out to manufacturers to ask what could be done to increase variety.
“I told them, ‘You’re missing out on a whole line of items that can be made for a community that is desperately looking for stuff that shows their pride,’” Macias said.
What started as a 2-foot by 4-foot area in the store dedicated to Pride has now grown to more than 48 feet of merchandise. It’s that attention to detail, Macias said, that keeps families coming back to the store year after year.
“The best part is watching the kids who come in grow into adults and come back with their own children,” Macias said. “Some of our customers have been shopping here for decades because we truly are a neighborhood store.”
Vine American Party Store is located at 5969 Melrose Ave. Hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 9 a.m.- 4 p.m., Sunday. For information, visit vineamericanparty.com.