The location: The Pawn Shop.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. A pawn shop.

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. The location isn't mentioned, but somewhere in or near Newport Beach.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. In Episode 25 (of season three), "The Graduates", when Ryan goes into a pawn shop to hock Marissa's pearls (a gift from her father), to pay off Volchok (who was blackmailing Ryan for money to get out of town).

    After Ryan hocks the necklace and comes out of the store, he meets Volchok in the alley next door and gives him the money. Volchok wants to talk to Marissa, but she refuses and she & Ryan speed away in her SUV while Volchok rages. This hostile meeting eventually leads to Marissa's accidental death, later in the same episode 25.

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A hobby store.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. It's in Old Torrance.

    Most people know the city of Torrance for the huge Del Amo mall and its surrounding area, but the original downtown section of Torrance is located a few miles east of Del Amo. Known now as "Old Torrance", it, like many downtowns, fell on hard times, and degenerated into a tacky neighborhood complete with a Pussycat theatre and several pawn shops. In recent years, the city has made an effort to gentrify Old Torrance. They tore down the porno theatre, and the neighborhood has definitely improved a lot, although a few of the pawn shops remain. So it's not surprising that the O.C. location scouts came here when they were looking for a pawn shop.

    What is surprising is that they didn't use one of the real pawn shops in Old Torrance. Instead, they used another brick building in the same village, which houses a hobby store called "The Model Shoppe" (as well as "Frank's Lock & Key" shop right next door), and put up a fake sign reading "Pawn Shop" over the window.  I'm not sure why - but my guess is that they fancied the real alleyway next door, where they could stage the confrontation between Marissa & Volchok.

    You'll find The Model Shoppe at 1415 Marcelina Ave. (at Sartori Ave), in Old Torrance. The alleyway, where they meet Volchok, is right next door (to the northeast).

    (I shot the photo to the right in late 2006.)    

    Here is a map link with the exact location in Old Torrance. (If you're out looking at other O.C. locations, it's about four and a half miles east of the Redondo Beach Pier.) And here is an aerial photo from Live Local.

    [ For fans of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer": 'Sunnydale High' (AKA Torrance High) is located just a few blocks away, and so is Buffy's home. Also, a scene from the "Charlie's Angels" movie was filmed right around the corner from the pawn shop. ]

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A. I recognized Old Torrance almost immediately (my dentist, Tiffany Lee, has her office in the same neighborhood), but I wasn't sure exactly which shop they had taken over. Fortunately, if you freeze-frame the shot of Ryan exiting the store and heading into the alley, you can see the name of another shop right across the street: "The XP Guys", which let me pinpoint the exact location. I then went there in person to double-check and shoot the photo.

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