#1
Particularly in San Gabriel, Pasadena area? I just imagine there has to be lots of mom & pop shops in this diverse area but I haven't been able to find any. Some shops sell piano and has a few yamaha guitars that I am not interested in. So...can someone give me some idea on finding these shops? I'd like to just window shopping and maybe buy some cheap strings and case.
#2
no, it isn't. offhand here are the ones i can think of:

pasadena guitars - haven't made it there but i hear very good things about the place.
http://www.pasadenaguitars.net

grayson's tune town in montrose - good place to check out guilds, among other things. they had a bunch when we were there and other great brands as well as reasonable prices. http://www.graysonstunetown.com

charles music in glendale - sort of crappy but they do have some stuff.
http://www.charlesmusicstore.com

not too far from there is west l.a. music in universal city in the valley (one of my favorites) on ventura blvd. they're not open sundays, though. the guitar sales dude there is clint, and he seemed cool.

outside of the area, there's sam ash (ask for kali in acoustics - she's cool and knows TONS about martins) and guitar center in hollywood, plus several smaller stores on the block west of guitar center. there's boulevard music in culver city, true tone in santa monica (VERY recommended!!!), and west l.a. music in west l.a. (good selection but weird sales guys).

and if you get to west l.a.. don't forget west l.a. guitar center on pico. nate is our favorite sales guy there - no pressure but very helpful and a good acoustic player, too.

btw, i love pasadena guitar center. they let me play there for hours and leave me alone. ditto west l.a. guitar center, true tone and grayson's.