Getting ready to throw a birthday party for your DTLA kid? Forget about driving to the mall for party supplies. There are two party districts right here in downtown where you can pick up piñatas, favors and decorations for half of what you’d pay at Party City.
Party district #1 is centered around Olympic Boulevard and Central Avenue and Party District #2 is centered around 3rd and Wall Street. I prefer #1 even though it’s farther away from the core of downtown because the stores are bigger and selection tends to be better. Plan to arrive no later than 10 am because these stores get packed–getting there late means shelling out $5 for parking instead of snagging a free space on the street.
One of the bigger and more established stores is Joker Party Supply at 1512 E. Olympic Boulevard, but they have dozens of competitors so make time to shop around. Remember, this is the warehouse district so don’t expect niceties like wide aisles, good lighting and items with price tags. What you get in return is a huge selection of plates, napkins, tablecloths, lighting, and party favors, and a ginormous selection of balloons and piñatas. The piñatas are priced around $13, compared with $35 for a comparably priced piñata at a mall store.
You’re guaranteed to find whatever character your kids are currently obsessed with, including Angry Birds, Mickey Mouse, Thomas the Tank Engine, Disney Princesses, My Little Pony and more–though whether the items are legally licensed is another story. If buying bootleg goods is a problem for you, you’d best skip the party district altogether. The party stores also have rentals for tables, chairs and large helium tanks, and they sell candy, though I don’t recommend getting anything edible here. Surprisingly, the sales staff in these places tend to be very helpful, but it may take a minute or two to find someone who speaks English. Before you go, practice saying “Can you give me a better price?” You’d be surprised at how many stores will bargain with you.