2017 Readers Poll
2017 Critics Picks

photo by Todd V. Wolfson

Best Early-Nineties Shopping Experience

The name evokes a grand and soul-crushing shopping experience, but the reality is far from the Gap and Hot Topic. This trailer parked outside the Museum of Human Achievement packs a lot of Day-Glo aesthetic in its 200 square feet. Shoppers looking to make a statement will find no shortage of art, accessories, decor, and zines to brighten up themselves and their surroundings.

The Mall
916 Springdale

Best Way to Flavnt Your Pride

Androgyny is in. Ask anyone. If you’re looking locally for unisex options, look no further than FLAVNT (pronounced flaunt, like Chvrches). This brother/sister duo specializes in T-shirts, hoodies, and binders (currently available in four colors to match varying skin tones). There’s a simple or sassy style perfect for queers, trans folks, and anybody looking to make an anti-gender statement – or rock a rad top. If that wasn’t cool enough, FLAVNT also partners with members of the LGBTQ community to help raise funds for gender-affirming surgeries. Since 2015 they’ve raised more than $15,000 in donations. What can we say, except patriarchy shmatriarchy!


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photo by Sandy Carson

Best One-Stop Bike/Coffee/Clothing Shop

Sometimes you need to fix your fixed gear, but you need your caffeine fix first. Kill two birds at Fast Folks' cool Eastside shop. And while you're there, might as well flip through owner Natalie Goforth's rack of hand-picked vintage clothing for sale and cross one more thing off your to-do list.

Best Breakthrough

Until surpassed by Michael Jackson’s Thriller after his death, Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) by the Eagles was the bestselling album of all time. At Breakaway, its used wax runs you $6. Most other places, $10-15. “Those albums sold millions of copies,” snorted one of the owners when lauded on the North Loop buzz mill’s levelheadedness during today’s topsy-turvy vinyl revolution. This summer, when they pulled a Pink Floyd and tore down the wall to the adjacent unit, the $1 section expanded and a used stereo store materialized. Breakaway hit.

Breakaway Records
211 W. North Loop

photo by Todd V. Wolfson

photo by knoxy knox

Best Place to Get Your Stitch Fix

This ain’t your grandma’s chain stitch. Known as the nomads of stitching, Fort Lonesome travels the continent preaching the art of embroidery and offering one-of-a-kind (and one-at-a-time) pieces of art tattooed directly to your clothing item of choice (they also have patches, shirts, and a trucker hat to round out their offerings). The Austin-based brand takes pride in their maker-driven, brilliantly colored creations and has been known to fundraise from time to time to raise money for the likes of Planned Parenthood.

Fort Lonesome

Best Boots That Won’t Cost You an Arm and a Leg

Just like Austin straddles the line between cowboy-casual and urban chic, Tecovas makes elegant shitkickers for city slickers. Designed locally and handcrafted at a factory in Léon, Mexico, Tecovas’ mission is to deliver high-quality boots at a lower price point. Still on the fence? You can stop by their bustling Eastside showroom, open on Saturdays, to fit some on for size and get a delicious sniff of that new leather smell.

2514 E. Cesar Chavez

photo by Jana Birchum

Best Nifty Thrifty

Next to finding cash money, there's little that's more economically thrilling than a bargain. Make it a bargain on spendy, trendy attire and it's like hitting pay dirt. Which can happen more often than not at the Goodwill store off Lake Austin Boulevard, aka Gucci Goodwill. The quality of the finds at any thrift store is dependent on the economic status of the donors, and the proximity to West Lake Hills and Tarrytown means the duds here are no duds. We've scored a NWT Neiman Marcus frock for a mere $11.99! It's not the biggest Goodwill, just the biggest bargain.

701 Newman Dr., Austin, TX 78703

Best Kawaii Storage Solutions

Piggy banks are cute. See-through teddy bear piggy banks are just cuter than dimples. That’s kawaii, the Japanese term for cute. But there’s also chibi, meaning tiny in the most adorable way, and that’s what Fit provides. The Japanese import store specializes in household and office goods, plus super-rare Studio Ghibli and Gundam merch, but it’s the desktop and shelf-space storage options – from boxes for displaying your favorite gachapon to stationary solutions – that will have your inner neat freak saying arigatou gozaimasu.

Fit Japanese Store
10901 N. Lamar Blvd.

photo by John Anderson

photo by Jana Birchum

Best Place to Pick up a Philodendron for Your Favorite Person

On the hunt for something small to make the day of someone special? Candice Bertalan’s snug Chicon shop specializes in potted succulents and other petite treats ideal for gifting – soy candles, dangly earrings, a feminist tote or two. More of a window shopper? The store’s Instagram ( will have you dreaming of a cactus to call your own. Go on – be your own bae and gift yourself something pretty. You deserve it.

The Fox Den
1105 Chicon

Best Retail Therapy for Animal Lovers

Not only does Austin's newest thrift store have a great selection of super-affordable vintage furniture, designer fashions, and pet supplies, but 100% of proceeds go toward APA!'s mission of saving animals' lives, including recent hurricane survivors. The shop dog, Sweets, told us a south location is coming soon – another reason to wag our tails.

Austin Pets Alive! Thrift
5801 Burnet Rd.

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Best Kill-You-With-Cuteness Clothing

There’s something about Luella’s that screams "Nacho Babe." It’s one of their T-shirts. This woman-owned small business is the epitome of clever, nailing that perfect combination of feminine, feminist, and fashionable. From their love of queso to their celebratory sisterhood shirts and sassy comebacks (to be whipped out after a poor pickup line or catcall), Luella’s is Austin’s one-stop shop for Grrrl Power.


Friendliest (Ladies and) Gents in the Screenprinting Biz

We loved FSG's "Hold It Down H-Town" tees (from which 100% of proceeds were donated to Hurricane Harvey relief), but it's the pleasure and ease of working with the designer-run screenprinting company that puts them at the top of our list for fast and professional shirts, posters, flags, and more.

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photo by Todd V. Wolfson

Best-Case Scenario in Which the Bugs Are the Features

For those of us who can resist, at least long enough, the maudlin gravity of a shelter-bound cat or dog's please-adopt-me eyes, there's no place in town as pet-wonderful as Daniel Keeper's ZooKeeper Exotics. The newly expanded store is stocked from floor to ceiling with reptiles, amphibians, and more species of arachnids than ever haunted Ron Weasley's nightmares – and those spiders 'n' all are personally wrangled by acclaimed arachnid guru David Moellendorf, who definitely knows what's up among the eight-legged set.

ZooKeeper Exotics
9012 Research Ste. C-11

Best Place to Get All Oiled Up

It's like walking into a well-stocked library of oils and vinegars there in three different locations around town, and the helpful staff at any one of the tastefully appointed venues owned by Organizzazione Nazionale Assaggiatori Olio di Oliva-certified Jeff and Tabatha Conarko will provide you with inspiration – and the requisite fluids, whether herbally enhanced, perfectly spiced, or straight-up Extra Virgin – for the best meals you'll ever make.

Con'Olio Olive Oils & Vinegars
215 Lavaca

photo by John Anderson

photo by Andrea McArdle

Most Bling for Your Buck

Unleash your inner Nordic goddess with pieces from Nina Berenato's Warrior collection. From selling her stunning jewelry out of an Airstream trailer parked on Barton Springs Road just last year, the metalsmith's industrial-femme designs are now showcased in her airy brick-and-mortar space at the Domain.

Nina Berenato Jewelry
3200 Palm Way #152

Best Shop for Slaying Domestic Demons

It is a rite of passage that no one really looks forward to. One of your appliances has died. Be it the fridge, your dishwasher, or (God forbid!) your wine cooler, Austin Appliance Rebuilders has an ever-rotating selection, and great deals to boot (we got a washer/dryer combo for $400, and they delivered it the same day). Be on the lookout for the house cat, Garfield, as he may be the divining rod that leads you to your new kitchen set.

Austin Appliance Rebuilders, LLC
11704 N. Lamar, 512/832-1100
9300 Brown Ln. Ste. B, 512/832-1164

photo by Todd V. Wolfson

photo by Jana Birchum

Best Place for Your Keyhole

Your front door. It’s the first part of your house you face when you’re coming home, and the last thing you touch when you’re leaving. Your door defines your house, and you’ll always want something a little unique. Luckily, Door Outlet’s massive warehouse of new, custom, and surplus doors has every design imaginable, from French windows to solid core. Perfect for pros or determined DIYers.

Door Outlet
8701 Research Blvd

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