Cheryl Shops...Austin

Aside from the fact that it was in the 40s and 30s the entire time I was there, I thought Austin was a pretty great city. As my friend MT put it, if the state of Texas is a city, Austin is the gay neighborhood. Austin is also the lone blue pocket in the entire state, so with it comes a bunch of liberal-mindedness. For example, Austin is very into supporting local businesses there, a concept I also like to stand behind. Two very awesome examples of this are Book People, which is about the size of your average Barnes & Noble, but actually way cooler--there was a psychic giving readings, magnets of the local drag queen (Leslie), and an ample section of books on sustainable living (random for me to bring up, yes, but I was once an intern for a magazine called Mother Earth News, and I've always been quite fascinated by all that sort of stuff). Across the street from Book People is a great record store called Waterloo Records, which is basically like Other Music, except the people who work there are actually nice. (This is something that kept stunning me all weekend--I'm used to the garden-variety surly Williamsburg hipster, so I was continually shocked to see them smiling and being pleasant. Maybe it's the Texas sunshine.)

Across the street from Waterloo is a little shopping complex, where you can find the biggest By George branch. Sort of a mini chain in Austin, By George has been around for awhile, and I'd say is kind of like a more upscale Calypso. They were having a big sale when I was there, but most of the clothes (Dries van Noten, Miguelina, Velvet) were still in the three figures. Now, you'd think that with all of its liberal-mindedness, Austin would be full of hippies who shop at thrift stores. It is, but there are also a lot of well-heeled residents, hence the pricey boutiques that dot the downtown area.

Of course, across the street from By George is the behemoth Whole Foods headquarters. Now, I love me some Whole Foods, but words cannot describe how awesome this one is. They sell organic cotton clothing. There's a tea bar and a nut bar. There's a walk-in beer refrigerator. There's a living food station. And, this being Texas, there's an in-house barbecue pit and meat smoker. It smells delicious in there, and we ended up going there pretty much every day.

I was really looking forward to shopping on South Congress Street--it's kind of like the Smith Street of Austin--but by the time we got there, on Monday, it was 30 degrees and we were in the middle of an ice storm. So we didn't spend a lot of time over there, unfortunately, but my favorite store in that section was called Therapy and had a nice mix of clothing (guys and girls), chocolate, and candles. There's another store that we actually didn't have time to go into (impending weather and all), but I'm going to save it for this week's website of the week.

Since I ran out of clean clothing, we ended up making a trip to the mall and I bought a hat at Anthropologie. So I didn't keep my Austin shopping 100% local, but in the spirit of the city, I tried. Also, speaking of non-local companies, I'd highly recommend staying at the Four Seasons, as we did. Awesome shower, L'Occitane bath products (which I pilfered daily), and the most comfortable hotel bed I've ever slept in. Also, a special shout out to MT, who showed us a great time, in spite of the weather. Next time I'll wait till the rainy season is over!

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