November is almost over, which means that Long Beach’s walking corridors will soon turn into catwalks for those eager to flaunt their “ugly” holiday sweaters.

I place ugly in quotes because, in my opinion, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My favorite seasonal sweater features three grey cats surrounded by poinsettias, plaid stockings, blue clocks and other various Christmas tackle — all bordered by a thick layer of gold glitter. If I had to guess, it was masterfully constructed sometime in the 1980s and I can’t wait to don it in 2023.

When I was a kid, the only people who wore Christmas sweaters were my school teachers, my grandma, Bill Cosby — you get the picture. Such garments were revived through ugly Christmas sweater parties and a general hunger for nostalgia, allowing the movement to evolve past another ironic fashion trend.

Today, it’s a downright race to see who can forage the kitschiest sweaters — the ones with the loudest colors, the most gewgaws, glitter, baubles, blinking lights, etc.

In Long Beach, there happens to be more than a handful of places to find such a sweater, but this is your warning to get on the shopping early. The best (meaning the most gaudy) will fly off shelves before the end of next week.

If vintage isn’t your thing, you can really find anything you’re looking for online. For example, you can snag this “Challah at ya boy” Hanukkah sweater on Amazon, one of the many big retailers that caught onto the holiday sweater craze. If you’re looking for something unique to this city, you can order this Long Beach Christmas sweater from Legendary Locals Clothing Co.

For the really memorable goods, though, we recommend checking out these five thrift stores in Long Beach to hunt for holiday sweaters.

Meow Vintage – 2210 E. Fourth St.

Neon lights up the walls of Meow as owner Kathleen Schaaf stands inside her vintage store on Retro Row in Long Beach Monday, March 6, 2023. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Of course, we begin on Retro Row at the corridor’s first vintage shop, Meow. By next week, the shop will begin rolling out their Christmas sweater selection and if you’re looking for true vintage, this should be your first stop.

That’s because owner Kathleen Schaaf has stocked her shop with gems from a gamut of eras since 1986. From the 1920s all the way up to the ’90s and early 2000s, she’s got it all.

La Bomba – 2222 E. Fourth St. 

While you’re in the neighborhood, it’ll be hard to pass the giant seasonal racks outside of La Bomba, which typically lure folks into the shop toward the even larger holiday racks. It’s where I once snagged my beloved ’90s “jingle bears” nightgown for $10, which led me inside to buy a haul more.

Goods on Orange3414 Orange Ave. 

One of my favorite newer vintage shops is Goods on Orange. This place is a bit of a retro-lovers paradise with its labyrinthine layout. Its multiple rooms hold the goods of multiple sellers — clothing, shoes, housewares and more. I once bought an (unopened) pack of flashy ’80s birthday napkins here for a party. I expect they will offer similar holiday gems.

The shop said they already have holiday decorations and clothing on display, but the big, big racks are coming out early next week.

Belmont Shore Discovery Shop – 5235 Second St.

Departing from the shops dedicated to curating only vintage, for a moment, the Discovery Shop in Belmont Shore is generally a great place to find, well, vintage, at a good price.

Right when you walk in, you’ll find displays of Christmas paraphernalia so mountainous, so blinding, you’ll almost want to put your sunglasses on.

Beyond the dinnerware and tchotchkes, you’ll find sweaters, aprons, vests and more sprinkled about from a few different eras — all reasonably priced. You’re welcome.

Out of the Closet 3500 Pacific Coast Highway

One of the most beloved places to go thrifting in the city has long operated beneath a hot pink sign on PCH. Out of the Closet is another place like the Discovery Shop, where you may have to do some digging, but when do, you’re likely to find gold — or red and green in this case.

While they’re likely to get more next week, the shop currently has at least 10 sweaters on display ahead of ugly holiday sweater season. Happy hunting.