Palisades’ BOCA Settles in on Santa Monica’s Montana Avenue

By Laurie Rosenthal
Staff Writer

BOCA, one of the most beloved locally owned stores in all of Pacific Palisades, recently re-opened on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica.

The date was September 10, almost to the day when the original women’s clothing store opened in 1994 on Antioch Street. In 2004, owner Denise Martinez relocated BOCA on Swarthmore Avenue, where it remained until July.

Caruso’s Palisades Village construction on Swarthmore forced the move to 1034 Montana, corner of 11th Street.

BOCA owner Denise Mangimelli with longtime employees Misty Simpson, Latifeh Moshary and Hilary Barrett.Photo: Lesly Hall
BOCA owner Denise Mangimelli with longtime employees Misty Simpson, Latifeh Moshary and Hilary Barrett.Photo: Lesly Hall

The new store, like its two predecessors, exudes a casual-chic vibe. It feels familiar, and the layout is reminiscent of the space on Swarthmore. You can almost “see” the old Baskin-Robbins behind the cash register.

Denise and her husband, Michael Mangimelli, strived to create an environment where everyone can relax, whether they are buying something or not.

“We want our friends/guests to feel welcome and comfortable, and we hope that they will find our staff to be friendly, helpful and knowledgeable,” Denise told the Palisades News.“We always love when our friends hang out and have a cup of tea with us.”

BOCA is well suited for those who loathe shopping in big department stores or malls, as Denise and her staff do the editing for customers, carefully choosing select pieces from myriad brands.

She is especially proud that the store carries jewelry made by Palisadians Julie Starr Dresner and Robin Terman. Popular clothing brands include Ulla Johnson, Zadig & Voltaire and Current/Elliott, while shoes by Calleen Cordero do well.

“We’re selling fall merchandise, and I’m happy to say that our business is equal to the Palisades despite the decrease in store size,” Denise said.

Longtime employees Latifeh Moshary (15 years), Misty Simpson (10 years) and Hilary Barrett (five years) made the move to Montana, and help make the store feel like home. Though the commute is now a bit longer for Moshary, she is excited about the new store, and said the extra time in the car is well worth it.

For those worried that BOCA will not return to the Palisades, the Mangimellis want everyone to know they will absolutely be coming back once Caruso’s development is completed (estimated for fall 2018), though they may keep a satellite store on Montana.

“It’s kind of nice that this is a little destination area,” Denise said, mentioning other nearby shops on Montana. She and her staff are happy to be on a notable shopping street, and welcome new clients and familiar faces alike.

“We’ve had such a warm welcome here on Montana and have enjoyed meeting lots of new clients,” said Denise, “and our Palisades clients are making their way to us— we are always thrilled to see familiar faces.”

A graduate of Palisades High School, Denise worked on Swarthmore for decades. When she was 16, she wrapped gifts at La Femme. Later, she worked at Encore and then Whispers. All three stores occupied the same space (at different times) where BOCA was located until July.

“This was my place,” Denise said about the store’s 1024 Swarthmore location. She is excited about the changes that are happening on the street, and looks forward to returning.

The Mangimellis live close to PaliHi with their dog, Walter.

Denise calls Michael the “mastermind” of their operation; after some effort, he secured the area adjacent to BOCA’s courtyard for his men’s store (BOCA Man, also formerly on Swarthmore), which is slated to open later this month.

“We’ve been open for six weeks now, and we continue to love our new home on Montana,” Denise said.

Contact for (310) 459-7259 for more information.

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