La Bomba proves that vintage rocks

Posted February 24, 2006
Emmah Obradovich
La Bomba, a ‘50s and ‘60s vintage clothing store in downtown Pomona, has been around for seven years. The store is one of two; the other of which is located in Long Beach. The store consists of books, sunglasses, lingerie, coats, purses, hats and rings. La Bomba manager Albert Gonzales strives to combine his love of hip art and music with reasonably priced vintage gear.

Katie Hillier
Staff Writer

A sales associate steamed a flashy vintage shirt as glam rock music blasted from the stereo and curious customers rummaged through racks of clothes, searching for hidden treasures.

With its sassy vintage clothes tailored to entice the rock star in everyone, La Bomba, located in the Arts Colony in downtown Pomona, is the vintage store of choice for musicians, filmmakers and eclectic fashionistas alike.

The vintage store originated in Long Beach, but since business was booming, the owner decided to branch out to Pomona. Since then, the La Bomba chain has been going 10 years strong.

The store’s interior is almost as outrageous as some of its clothes; three-dimensional paintings dress the walls, adding to the hip Vegas-meets-Deborah Harry environment.

“I come here when I go to a show,” said Camille Driscoll, a musician from Laguna Beach.

The store is popular among people in the music scene, but it also caters to filmmakers and theater types.

“In Pomona there are a couple of schools that come out for performances with a $250 budget, and I just let them go wild in the store,” said Albert Gonzales, the manager of both the Pomona and Long Beach stores.

La Bomba is the ideal store for costumes and vintage originals.
Its racks are filled with multi-colored dresses, shirts and coats, dating back to the 1940s.

La Bomba is also notorious for their extensive selection of avant-garde eyewear.

“We’re most famous for our sunglasses because they are unusual and rare,” said Shaun Curley, a sales associate at La Bomba.

The sunglasses, which are kept in a case near the back of the store and also on the counter, range in styles reminiscent of the polished Jackie O. to the androgynous David Bowie.

“I think people that look more to uniqueness and to a more artistic self-expression would want to shop here,” Curley said. “If you’re tired of wearing the same clothes as everyone else, then come here, we’re cheaper than the mall.”

Though most vintage stores in the area house expensive pieces shoppers only dream of buying, the prices at La Bomba are surprisingly thrifty, starting at $5.

The owner’s passion for music and art also make La Bomba a stand out, adding to the store’s overall environment and vibe.

Adam and The Ants and T.Rex are just some of the funky sounds that can be heard when shopping in the store.

In fact, La Bomba fits perfectly in the music and art-obsessed Arts Colony, amidst the Glasshouse and other music and arts galleries in the immediate area.

The eclectic vintage shop stays open late until 11 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month during the Art Walk, where hundreds of patrons wander the racks after visiting the nearby galleries.

Gonzales’s ultimate goal was to find a way to combine the music scene with the fashion world.

One way in which this store directly connects with the music community is by setting up a “ mini-store” at local music festivals like Coachella.

Coachella is an annual music festival held in Indio that has become very popular in the last couple of years.

Bands like Franz Ferdinand and Depeche Mode will be rocking the stage this April when the festival is held.

La Bomba is the only vintage store at Coachella; and therefore, thousands of people stop by and shop throughout the event.

Gonzales says that the most important thing to him is seeing his customers happy.

He loves watching them on sale days when there are mounds of clothes stacked sky high in the back of the Long Beach store, and customers are piling their fantastic finds onto the counter.

Sale days at the La Bomba store in Long Beach are a huge event, they happen on the third weekend of every month.

The back of the store turns into a flea market frenzy where customers go wild.

Gonzales said he buys all the clothing in bulk and then distributes the items between the two stores.

The hip combination of clothing and music are what makes shopping at La Bomba fun.

The store is a gem among its contemporaries and Gonzales is looking to expand this music-meets-fashion vibe to more areas.

“Come down and see it for yourself,” Gonzales said.

Katie Hillier can be reached at khillier@ulv.edu.

La Bomba in Pomona is located at 195 W. Second Street, Pomona, Calif.
La Bomba in Long Beach is located at 2222 E. 4th Street, Long Beach, Calif.

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