Shopping in Austin

Sure Austin has a fine collection of shopping malls, like Barton Creek Square in South Austin and Lakeline in North Austin, where all the big name retailers can be found, but this is also a city where artists and craftsmen flourish so finding the unique, the unusual is not hard. There are four notable areas where the city's vibe is on display and for sale.

The so-called central Design District is anchored on the western edge of downtown Austin, near the Clarksville neighborhood. The landmark Whole Foods Store and its corporate headquarters (a homegrown Austin company) is at the district's nexus at Lamar and Sixth Street. Other Austin native companies, like Bookpeople and Whole Earth Provision are nearby, plus a collection of antique shops housed at Whit Hanks center. There are several chic clothing stores in the area, plus the popular Zanzibar shops, one featuring Asian imports, the other an eclectic mix of home furnishings, knick knacks and accessories. Other design-oriented stores are clustered in the area, hence the district's name.

South Congress Avenue, SoCo, is a blend of small and fun shops featuring recovered and antique objects, fashion shops and art galleries that sell works by local and ethnic artists, and several art galleries. First Thursday marks the day SoCo shops stay open late into the evening so shoppers can stroll the avenue and mix shopping with a stop or two for refreshments.

A third shopping corridor along South Lamar Boulevard is home to some of the city's funkiest stores including retro clothing and tattoo parlors, urban garden centers and used furniture shops.

Arboretum area, located in Northwest Austin, is home to some of the top merchandising names in the country. It is named for an open-air, shopping paradise called The Arboretum. Many consider it to be the Rodeo Drive of Austin.

The shopping finds are not limited to these four areas, but throughout the city's neighborhoods small shops offering local crafts and clothing, handcrafted furniture or imported ethnic arts, locally baked bread and freshly made smoothies are a natural part of the scene. The multitude of homegrown stores make shopping in Austin both a joy for shop-a-holics and a pain free experience for even those who are allergic to shopping malls.

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