There is a cool little stretch of Austin which took me by surprise.
South Congress, or SoCo as the locals call it, is about four blocks long and lined with an odd assortment of shops I hadn’t quite expected to find in Texas. Of course, I was operating under the ignorant assumption that Texas was all about cowboys and big belt buckles and very little else. I was, of course, quickly proven wrong nearly everywhere I turned in Austin, especially in SoCo.
SoCo, you see, is full of antique and oddity shops. Not stuffy old antiques, mind you, but cool, retro items favored by hip home owners who want to spice up their living quarters with some rusty anachronisms.
I spent a few hours in such shops as Uncommon Objects, wandering through generations of knick-knacks, odds-and-ends, and other people’s treasures. Some of it was absolute junk, like an enormous garage sale, but there were plenty of way cool items as well. My friends bought some vintage jewelry but I found nothing of real interest other than the pure joy of peeking into the past. Hey, I used to have a lunch box like that!
Towards the end of SoCo looms a Texas-sized store which, unlike the antique stores, lived up to all my prior misconceptions about the Lone Star State. Yep, this was the famous Allens Boots–the place to go for all your leather cowboy needs. As you can see from the above photo, they specialize in boots–every kind of boot imaginable, from reptile skins to mammal hides. Everything else they sell is nothing more than an accessory to the boots; Wrangler jeans, colorful shirts, and, of course, cowboy hats. I didn’t buy anything here either, but it sure was worth a few minutes of my time checking it out and pretending to be a cowboy.