my traveling companion actually had a reason for being in austin, which involved a lot of shopping. NO I'M SERIOUS, YOU GUYS. or at least, window shopping. chris is one of the founders of modern bear, which is--and although i don't have actual proof, i'm pretty sure about this--the ultimate guide to modern design and bears. no, not these bears. or these. like this. NO I'M TOTALLY SERIOUS. it's a thing. anyway, he has a book called "guide for the modern bear" which is partially a field guide, travelog, and a sort of sex and the city-like romp. it's a fun read, no matter your predilections. and yes, my friend's name is chris bale. obvs not batman chris bale. anyway, he's working on a modern bear app, which is why we had to have a major shopping day. just to see what's out there.....
and as we expected, there were a plethora of used/vintage/retro shops throughout the city--every possible type of shop, from the carefully curated vintage furniture store with prices to match to the shops that were just a space to hold as much junk as possible where maaaaybe you could find a treasure after some serious sifting. one of the nicest shops we visited was uptown modern, which had a great selection of mid-century modern furniture mixed in with more eclectic designs and accessories. but i think the most eccentric place is where i had the most fun:
the texas facilities commission surplus store! although the state has several storefronts open to the public, the austin branch is the only one that features things that i have always wondered what happened to them: stuff lost or confiscated from airports. you have a nail clipper or switchblade taken away from you by TSA? did you drop your neck pillow rushing to the gate? if it happened in an texas airport, it's probably here.
there were trays upon trays switchblades, knives, boxcutters, keychains, belts (! really?), and nail clippers, which, i don't know, even at a dime apiece, i'd think twice about picking up. literally. i mean, once you get it home and sterilize it, it's probably fine, but where has it been--on someone else's body--in the meantime? and a sort of scary selection of weapons and things that looked like weapons. they also have a pretty interesting display case of things confiscated that weren't for sale, like an alligator in a jar of formadehyde and....well, actually, that's all i remember, because c'mon. an alligator. in a jar. that someone tried to hand carry onto a plane.
if i lived in austin, i'd probably utilize this place more as they had an impressive warehouse filled with useful office supplies and furniture. a LOT of file cabinets. some really beautiful old desks and practical drafting tables. chairs.
the prices here are super reasonable, but even better is that everything's negotiable. even those ten cent nail clippers.
we did visit a lot of other places that sold "normal" things, especially clothing boutiques, all which were quite lovely. i have to say i really liked a lot of the men's clothing shops we visited, mainly because a lot of them were eclectically decorated, so even though i wasn't interested in the actual stock, there was enough going on hold my interest whilst my friend shopped. also, i learned something really interesting about austin men's shops, which is that they encourage drunk shopping. almost every shop we walked into offered us a cold beer upon entering (and usually from a decent brewery). hell-o. we visited a LOT of shops, and it was 101˚F outside, it was a welcome enticement. i guess someone figured out that a little alcohol encouraged more impulse or whim shopping and i have to say that person might be right.