City Guide 2013
Published: February 28, 2013
Desperately seeking a Kabbalah from 1874? Can't sleep without an 'N Sync pillow? For treasure, oddities, and other things you never knew you needed, look no further than our nine new favorite stores.
– Words and photos by Bryan Rindfuss
Bearded Lady Emporium
The compelling conversations one might hear in Janessa Consenz and Jedidia Reid's Bearded Lady Emporium can rival the oddities on the shelves. But try not to let the talk of searching for spotted owl feathers and special-ordering skulls distract you from browsing the fascinating spread of antiquarian books (a Kabbalah from 1874 is on offer for $290), screen-prints (including works by Michael Michael Motorcycle for $82), vintage black-light posters ($5), and hard-to-find T-shirts ($28). While the shop sells a fair amount of animal bits and pieces ($8 raccoon penis bones fly off the shelves), Consenz assures its all part of recycling efforts made possible by roadkill collection and a source who cleans up National Parks — no creatures are harmed in the process.
On Saturdays, Midtown bustles and the Blanco Bazaar has been at the center of the action for nearly a decade. Organized in aisles that make shopping the 25 vendor booths a breeze, the neighborhood antique mall offers everything from industrial salvage and folk art to vintage vinyl and comic books. An easy winner in the eye candy department is Debra Zeitung and Dawn Martinez's Retro Haus. Scattered between several poppy alcoves, the duo's settings could easily pass for camera-ready sets from The Mod Squad and Laugh In era. With groovy furnishings and accessories including swag lights, sofas, cocktail tumblers, and other home bar accoutrements, the outfit makes shopping for retro on eBay seem like something of a dated concept.
Jesus (on a rug), Madonna (on a T-shirt), Selena (on canvas), 'N Sync (on a pillow), and Tweety Bird (on a tote) can all be found at After L1fe, a progressive little boutique stashed in a North St. Mary's strip. The collaborative brainchild of Katalya Bustos and Elena Hernandez-Peña, the compact shop stocks a thoughtful selection of vintage duds (think rainbow-colored Wrangler shirts, fanny packs, and nylon ball caps) and truly unique DIY items (crafted by the likes of Chronically Cute, Moontime Gypsies, and 'Y' Clothing) and is also the only retail outfit in Texas stocking the occultish Seattle-based fashion line Actual Pain. In keeping with its roots as a First Friday pop-up, the adaptable space hosts monthly happenings showcasing local artists, bands, and performers.
628 S St. Mary's, alamowasteland.tumblr.com
Resource sharing is a theme at Collective, a multi-faceted venture founded by Rachel Ann Dealy in the summer of 2012. Combining DIY retail, retro resale, and a warehouse workspace where bands can rehearse, the venue specializes in items and services you're unlikely to find elsewhere. Fashioned from recycled bicycle chains and tires, the onsite Cycle Pit produces sturdy belts, industrial jewelry, and giftable black roses that share shelves with groovy garb from Dealy's own RAD Vintage and Thrift, furs and other frills collected by Santa Fe transplant Beth Rose, and rentable cult treasures courtesy of VHS 1138. In addition to art openings (First Fridays from 8pm-midnight) and movie screenings (Sundays at 8:30pm), Collective's headed in a culinary direction with pop-up dinners already in the bag and something permanent rumored to be on the horizon.
> Email Bryan Rindfuss