8407 West Third Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Thank You For 37 Magical Years!

I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.

– David Bowie

Dearest customers,

After thirty-seven amazing years on beautiful West Third Street, we are closing our doors this summer. It has been quite the journey, and it wouldn’t have been possible without YOU.

Your support over the years (almost four decades!) has allowed us to grow, to take risks, to evolve and, ultimately, to flourish. Every one of you who has come through our doors has contributed to the unique and special culture of the shop.

You have given us your creativity, your curiosity and your camaraderie. You have given us a chance to be part of your lives over the years, as you gathered our treasures to mark your celebrations, honor your traditions, and spoil your loved ones. We have seen so many of you get engaged, and then married, with rings from the store. We’ve even seen many of your children repeat the process themselves, as adults. We’ve shared holiday cheer with you year after year, as you added to your tree-trimming stashes and stocked up on gifts, and helped you ring in so many New Years, sparklers in hand.

Your steadfast support for our little store has radiated far beyond its four walls and into the wider creative community in Los Angeles. Because of you, we have been able to support a thriving and ever-expanding roster of local artists, designers and craftspeople, allowing them to make a living making beautiful things.

In short, we’d like to tell you all just how incredibly thankful we are for you. You have made this labor of love worth every moment, and have given us memories that will last far beyond the life of the physical shop. From the bottom of all our hearts, THANK YOU.

We started two doors down (where Michael Hittleman Gallery is now) before moving to our current space.

Our story began all the way back in 1982 — when Reagan was in the White House, the Billboard top tune was “Physical” by Olivia Newton John, Melrose Avenue was full of mohawked punk rockers, the median monthly rent in Los Angeles was $560, and the “athleisure” of the day was inspired by the leotards and leg warmers of the aerobics craze. Down the street from the brand spanking new Beverly Center and right next to the St. Regis liquor store, at 8403 West Third Street, a little shop named New Stone Age was born.

Two curly redheaded beauties with a great idea! Fran and Susan with their partners, Marx and Chris, who helped them design the store of their dreams, from the floors to the fixtures.

Fran Ayres and Susan Skinner met while working at the Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum, and their shared love of unique, handcrafted artifacts inspired them to open up a boutique showcasing the work of American craftspeople. They came up with the name “New Stone Age” as an homage to the Neolithic Era, when technological advances and an improved quality of life inspired humans to make a prolific amount of art – everything from pottery to frescoes to jewelry. The 1980s was a similarly exciting decade for crafts, especially in Los Angeles. The metropolis was thriving, the economy was booming, and a spirit of maximalist optimism was reflected in the colorful, whimsical and functional ceramics, jewelry, furnishings and housewares coming out of the local craft scene. Fran and Susan were at the very forefront of the movement, showcasing work by emerging artists such as Lindsey Loch, Michael Corney, Nancy Cook Smith, Susie Ketchum and Thomas Mann. From the get-go, the store hosted regular themed group shows by these artists, bridging the distinction between gallery and store.

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In 1987, Fran and Susan had an opportunity to move into the storefront two doors down, a space that was twice as big. Local artist Lindsey Loch was commissioned to create a large corrugated metal storefront sign, adorned on either side by giant leaping metal figures in her signature whimsical style. Ceramicist Susie Ketchum completed a gorgeous Day of the Dead themed mosaic around the front door, comprised of hundreds of colorful handmade tiles, which still stands today.

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In addition to hosting regular art openings, Fran and Susan were inspired to start a yearly event inspired by Dìa de los Muertos. The Los Angeles craft scene at the time was heavily inspired by Mexican folk art, due in equal parts to the city’s rich cultural heritage and to the Eighties punk and goth subcultures with their reverence for macabre imagery. Many of the pieces in the store reflected this influence. Whimsical skull-shaped shot glasses and plates by local ceramicists were displayed side by side with papier-mâché calaveras and wooden nichos imported from Mexico and Latin America. The festivals held in the store were a logical extension of this aesthetic, and the eclectic altars displayed in the windows drew crowds from all over the city.

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In 1990, Susan moved to New Mexico to focus on her jewelry line, Fibula Studio, and Fran became the sole owner. Over the years, Fran has used her finely honed aesthetic eye to expand the store’s scope, filling every corner with handmade and one-of-a-kind treasures from around the world. Her buying has always been intuitive, stemming from her own keen sense of delight in discovery. Her approach to sourcing is akin to that of a Victorian collector curating a cabinet of curiosities; every inch of the store is packed to the brim with beautiful and unusual artifacts, like a modern day Wunderkammer. Under her loving and attentive direction, the store has evolved seamlessly with the decades, and has remained an arbiter of quintessentially LA style. The store has also become a notable destination for unique fine jewelry by local and independent artisans, which has given a whole new meaning to the “stone” in New Stone Age. Fran has honed a talent for discovering emerging jewelry collections – many renowned designers, like Jeanine Payer, Chan Luu and Polly Wales, got their first exposure in our glass cases. While our mercurial metropolis has shifted and changed dramatically over the past 37 years, this little oasis at 8407 West Third Street has remained a constant fixture, welcoming the passerby into a world that has always felt novel and timeless in one breath, thanks to Fran’s impeccable curation.

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The same panoramic shot, taken twenty-five years apart.

So many amazing artists, designers and salespeople have been a part of the store’s journey, infusing their own unique skills, tastes and personalities into the space. Fran has always made it a point to hire creative individuals to work in the store; our register has been helmed by all manner of visual artists, musicians, actors, writers, makers and designers. It is hard to imagine a boss more supportive of her employees and their creative endeavors than Fran has been. She has cultivated a nurturing environment where we have felt free to express our creativity, encouraging us to make and sell our own wares in the shop, to design logos and graphics, to display our artwork, and even to take a stab at designing and maintaining a website (which the author of this post has had the honor of doing since 2013). Over the years, so many of us have left the nest of New Stone Age to pursue our passions, each of us carrying a little bit of the store, and of Fran’s support, with us. Many former employees have gone on to become successful actors, writers, jewelry designers, exhibiting artists, small business owners, and even a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient. We’re all part of an extended family, thanks to Fran, who brought us all into the fold. And we haven’t even mentioned the canine family members — Emma, Lita and Charley are star employees in their own right!

Clockwise from top: Charley the Muppet, Lita the Paperanian and Emma the King Charles Cavalier, the three hardworking doggos of New Stone Age!

It truly takes a village to sustain a small business. Thank you all for being part of our little village for so long. We couldn’t have existed without you. A store without customers is just a room full of pretty objects. Together, we all made it a magical place to be.

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From the Eighties...
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to the Nineties...
to the aughts!
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We welcome you to share your own experiences, memories and favorite purchases from New Stone Age in the comments. Even better, come and say goodbye in person anytime before the end of June, shop our ongoing sale, and leave with a one-of-a-kind keepsake.

Thanks for all the fun times!

We love you all!

– Fran, Holly, Alexa, Marian, Charley, Lita and Emma xoxo

32 Responses so far.

  1. Lynn says:

    New stone age is part of my life! Who cries when a store closes…i do. Thanks for the memories

    • John Hall says:

      First Plastics, now New Stone Age. L.A. is steadily disappearing. I cannot begin to guess how many times my wife, Janice, and I have journeyed to West Third Street to visit these two delightful stores, and how much from each of them is now in our home. You will be missed.
      John Hall

  2. Lisa Katz says:

    I’m literally in tears. New Stone Age has been my favorite shop for the last 30 years. No hyperbole here. I have treated myself to a little something special at your store before every major surgery (21) and every birthday. New Stone Age was exactly the store I’d have myself with everything I didn’t even know I wanted, but craved. You will be so sorely missed, not just for the things you offered, but for your kind help when I could never decide between two necklaces, the wondrous wrapping, and genuine smile the minute the door opened, so lacking in LA. Thank you and wishing you the best in whatever’s next!

  3. This is my favorite gift store. Creative and unique. Thank you ! I bought bird spheres that hung over my child’s bed when he was born that now adorn my living room. They break the plane!

  4. Nancy Cook Smith & Peter Tigler says:

    It’s hard to think of our LA without NSA. A quirky hub with heart, you gave us a showcase and portal like no other. And friendship like no other. To Fran and all – CHEERS!

  5. Andrea Alsberg says:

    Got married in 1990 and directed all potential gift givers to your magical store. Since then you’ve been our go to place anytime we needed to to purchase a unique gift, and you’ve been the heart of our strolls down 3rd St. So sorry to see you go, but wishing you the best in your new ventures!

  6. Lynne says:

    Oh man, this hits hard. New Stone Age is part of what makes LA special to me. The most meaningful gifts I’ve received from my husband came from your shop. And it’s always an exquisite pleasure to browse.

    Thank you, and best wishes.
    Lynne S

  7. Kathy Solomon says:

    What a beautifully written tribute to an iconic altar of creativity. Thank you! And thanks to New Stone Age and Fran for enriching all our lives with this important landmark

  8. I’m so sad to see such a wonderful store, that has been such a landmark,
    vanish from the L.A. landscape.
    I wish you well.

    Your journey down memory lane was wonderful. Beautifully down.

  9. Randy Auerbach says:

    Its hard to remember a time when the store wasnt there. I moved to L.A. in 1978 and was in this neighborhood and soon discovered this amazing store. when I moved up to Sunset area I continued to buy all my gifts there and then, when I was able to afford my own home I wanted back in the same original area so that I could again walk to such a fun store. Every gift (whether for someone else or me) was so genuinely loved that it was my automatic go to place. I look around my house and see years of unique and very cool items that make me smile. While I understand the decision to close I am devastated!!! It was always a pleasure to go in and just browse or chat with whomever was there. you all will be greatly missed but I wish you only good luck in whatever life puts in you path.

  10. Tina Alonso says:

    So sad to hear… but a huge thank you for always being a fun store to visit and shop! My house and my ears have beautiful unique items from your store!
    Much love and adventure in your future wherever it takes you!

  11. Susan says:

    For 37 years I have bought every piece of jewelry I own in your store. 19 years ago I bought the same earrings for myself, mom, sisters and best friend, and haven’t taken them off since. For 37 years I have bought almost every birthday, housewarming and Christmas gift in your store. Sometimes I had $5 dollars to spend, other times $500, but each time I walked out with something special, always wrapped beautifully and with care.
    I was in three weeks ago to say goodbye to Fran. I found her sitting in the front window, absorbing the news, and reflecting, with one of the dogs of course. I quickly bought three necklaces but had to leave because I found myself tearing up over the loss of a piece of LA that has guided me through my entire time there (I moved to LA in 1984). LA has changed immensely over the years, often not for the better. Soon I won’t recognize it at all. Thank you for the memories and celebrations and artistic education. I wish you all the best, of everything, always.

  12. nina anderson says:

    Beautiful farewell from the beautiful ladies at New Stone Age. It makes me incredibly sad to see the store closing and I know I’m not the only one feeling this way.

    Where will I go to find the extraordinary things for my family, my friends and myself. There is no other store like this one.

    And where will I find such amazing people that make you feel so welcome and that now I call friends.

    But I wish Fran and Holly and Alexa and Marian all the best in their new chapter. I know they all will be having an exciting time, they all are so creative and smart and capable of great things.

    Love you

  13. ellen says:

    You’ll be missed!

  14. Nita Alvarez says:

    My heart sank when I saw this in my email. Your sense of art, design and beauty displayed in that lovely little shop has inspired me as a graphic designer and comforted my creative soul over the years.

    The first thing I did on my way home from lung cancer surgery at Cedars Sinai 20 years ago was stop at New Stone Age to celebrate by buying myself something wonderful! And I still have every item I ever bought there!

    I, too, am in a state of change, so completely understand that it’s time to shift into a new and different stage of life..

    Thank you for everything — words cannot express how much you will be missed, Fran.

  15. What a beautiful article and so well written. A delight to read and remember. I wish all you the best. Love Nelda.
    Former owner of Zosaku Fine Crafts Berkeley CA

  16. Toni Miller says:

    I’m sorry to hear the shop is closing, but so happy for you!
    I have loved you store almost since it opened and have purchased so many one-of-a-kind fabulosities I can barely count!

    I wish you all the best in your well deserved retirement (?) and hope that you continue your life’s adventure….

    All the best Fran,


  17. Bobbi Gonzales says:

    This is one of my Los Angeles destinations when I come down from the North. True sadness!!!

  18. Bumble Ward says:

    Thank you for having the most wonderful store in town. I have been buying Christmas and birthday presents here for, yikes, a quarter of a century. You have made so many people so very happy. Thank you and bon voyage, wherever your journey takes you. Much love,


  19. Lindee Levicke says:

    I always knew when I walked through the doors of New Stone Age that I would find the perfect item I didn’t know I needed for myself or the perfect gift for someone else. I don’t work on the Westside anymore, but anytime I find myself on 3rd Street, I would always stop because I considered New Stone Age as one of my “happy places”. Now these days there are fewer and fewer of them. Change is hard.

    I will miss your wonderful store always but I understand that life is always evolving…

    I wish you all the best for everything wonderful in your future.

  20. daisy tigler says:

    I grew up in this store 🙁 will miss it so, so much. Thank you for the memories.

  21. Sarah LaSaulle says:

    I have never been in a store, in any city of the world, that has had such excellent and imaginative gifts that so perfectly filled every spot in a delightful haven. I have loved coming here to shop for as many years as I can remember and have thought of Fran as more than just the owner, but an influential friend. Fran and NSA is a tastemaker, trendsetter, influencer, educator before all those words became popular. I told everyone that I know if they ever needed a special gift that they would always find something here. When someone was looking for a gift for me they knew to come here and it didn’t matter if it cost $10 or $300 I liked it all just the same. New Stone Age will be sorely missed but all my lovely jewelry and special treasures will remind me. I’ll keep you in my heart forever with love and gratitude, Sarah

  22. Sharon Kagan says:

    It’s crazy when a place becomes a hub, a spot where all the beautiful parts of life connect to and with.

    I have always loved this store, in the early days when I could only look and long for the bigger ticket items and left happily with my treasure and later when I could buy those beautiful more expensive pieces. As everyone has said it’s been the special place to find the perfect gift.

    My favorite moment connected to NSA was during one of my classes at SMC. There was an assignment to map 72 hours of your life. I walked around looking at all the assignments and saw photos of the store. “Do you work at New Stone Age? It’s my favorite store in all of LA.” It was Holly. And the web got bigger when I found out she was dating a former student who I also adored. They returned to my class on a big birthday of mine and asked if I would officiate their wedding. One of the biggest honors of my life. There is no end to the many circles of connections.

    Fran you’ve created so much more than a store. It breaks my heart that this city keeps losing treasures to unaffordable rents. A little piece of the soul of this town goes too.

    I believe that everything happens for the highest good and am certain the next chapter will be wonderful for all of you. But what about us?!!! LA just won’t have the same sparkle without you.

    So much love and gratitude,

  23. Neile says:

    I’m so proud of you, mom! NSA will always be a big part of our lives. Here’s to what’s next… Love you!

  24. Denise Osso says:

    When I left Los Angeles and moved to the Hudson Valley four months ago, I discarded many things, but kept everything I ever found at New Stone Ag.

    My guest towels that seemed expensive when I bought them 10 years ago. Every time I dry my hands, they remind me I am worth it.

    I have worn my ironstone drops for 30 years. They make me feel like myself.

    My daughter looks forward to new jewelry from the store every birthday. She is always delighted.

    I wear a silver cuff from the half-off box – a bargain and a talisman.

    My dear ones have received the perfect cards and gifts for decades. I wouldn’t think to go anywhere else.

    I thank you for imagining a world full of objects that make life better and then curating New Stone Age with the beautiful, the whimsical and the essential.

    Best wishes to you, dearest Fran, and to all whose welcoming presence and many skills made every visit worth the trip.

  25. lorraine says:


    Fran, saying goodbye to something you’ve created and nurtured and loved is always very sad, but it’s also very exciting. Freedom is liberating. I predict that your next act will be another Fran original that raises the creative bar even higher. I loved shopping at NSA, for clients ( they loved their gifts) and for myself ( still have my yoga mat that wasn’t really a yoga mat but everyone at Yoga was impressed).

    I’ll miss your always being there on 3rd st.There are so few things one can count on anymore. Have fun and be sure to wear sunscreen and laugh a lot.

  26. Deborah says:

    A beautiful tribute to an amazing store!
    While I treasure all the unique items I’ve bought over the many years it was the prospect of exploring NSA’s exquisitely curated aesthetic that I will miss. That was magical.
    All the best to you Fran!

  27. Linda Hesh says:

    Fran, you are the best! You really created a special place and affected many people in a happy way. Thank you!

  28. Tim McNeil says:

    Thanks for your beautiful store. My wife always loved your taste and was excited to see a package from the amazing New Stone Age under the tree or menorah. You will be greatly missed. Thanks and good luck! Tim (and Bonnie) McNeil

  29. Angie says:

    I left town for the summer. Today driving down Third Street for the first time in months my heart sank when I saw the store shuttered and a For Lease sign in the window.

    Your store was my go to place for one of a kind jewelry and gifts but I also loved going there just to browse and see Charley. Christmas shopping will not be the same this year without you.

    I am sorry it has come to an end but you really had a long run…such a rare thing in retail…especially these days. So Congratulations on your many years. I wish you all the best in your next adventure. You will be missed!

  30. Delila says:

    Was really sad to see it close. My favorite gift store in LA. But congrats on your new journey.

  31. Ruth Lambert says:

    I am so sorry about this. I have loved your store for the last 30 years and will miss the thoughtfully curated items that I’ve enjoyed looking at and buying. What a loss for the neighborhood and for all of us who love beautiful one of a kind items. I wish you all the best. I’m going to miss your little store more than I can say. xoxoxo

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