Monday, March 08, 2010

In N Out Company Store: What a Hamburger Chain's Retail Shop Is All About

When my parents come to visit Southern California, there are a few "must" places on their checklist. Pizza at Casa Bianca. Lunch at the Oinkster (that one's because of Evan, as the Oinkster is still his fave eatery). And, of course, several stops at In-N-Out Burger.

We sometimes forget how Southern California is the envy of the fast food world. Not only did many of the nation's top fast food chains get their start here, but In-N-Out is still the gold standard when it comes to burger chains.

I don't eat many hamburgers. But when I do, it tends to be with my parents on one of their In-N-Out runs.

After watching Huell Howser's recent look inside In N Out, which featured a trip to the chain's company store in Baldwin Park, I imeediately thought of my parents. I've already exhausted most L.A. attractions for them, so the In-N-Out Store would be perfect.

In February, they visited -- and we took a short drive to Baldwin Park to see it first hand.

The store itself isn't big, but does indeed carry plenty of In-N-Out paraphernalia. That includes every In-N-Out t-shirt (new designs come out annually), back to the late 1980s. Jackets, blankets, polo shirts, aloha shirts, baby onesies, all with the In-N-Out logo. Mugs, notepads, Christmas ornaments -- all there.

Above, the original In-N-Out sign, located just outside the chain's HQ in Baldwin Park.

In-N-Out University, where management is trained.

And the In-N-Out company store.

The shop, which is one of two (the other in Las Vegas), normally has specials on certain items (the location had piles of discounted $5 tees). We picked up a few $10 retro shirts (although I think mine was this year's design) and a few $1 sticky note pads shaped like an In-N-Out burger.

We also ate at the nearby In-N-Out -- the flagship Store #1 -- and somehow, and I don't if this was because of the proximity to the corporate headquarters -- but it just tasted better.

A word of caution: Construction around the offramp to the Baldwin Park store has made it tough to get off the freeway, at least for now.

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