20 Years of Austin Gifts
... And a slew of other local businesses celebrating significant anniversaries
In case you hadn't heard, The Austin Chronicle is celebrating 20 years in Austin. We've seen our town in boom, bust, überboom, and near bust again. For our holiday shopping guide, we have chosen to focus on survivors also celebrating 20 years. Here are 20 places eager to assist with your gift-giving needs, plus a list of others celebrating anniversaries, as well.
Congratulations and happy anniversary, and happy holidays, everyone!
Surely, we have missed some establishments. That's where you come in. If you know of a local Austin business celebrating 20 years or another significant anniversary this year, please let us know. You may win a fabulous prize (see "Other Significant Anniversaries, p. 64). -- Kate X Messer
Atomic City Whoa, Bettie! Page, that is. Yeah, they've got just about anything Bettie Page ya could ever covet, from cuff links and lunch boxes to lighters. If ever you're at a loss for a unique gift, venture no further than this trove of retro treasures. Thousands of gems, from Devo Ts ($19) to hula girls, are crammed into this petite store. As one employee confided, some consider Atomic City the perfect last gift stop, the place guaranteed to have something to make anyone happy. But why save the best for last this time around? 1700 San Antonio. 477-0293. Monday-Saturday, noon-6:30pm, Sunday, 2-6pm. www.atomiccity.citysearch.com.
Austin All Maid Service Holiday merry-making making a real mess of your house? You've got two options: Get off your eggnog-enhanced ass and clean the place yourself or let Austin All Maid do it for you. Considering their 20 years' experience and 750+ customers, who do you think will do a better job? They'll sweep, scrub, and scour your home on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis, and offer hourly rates and gift certificates, which means that you can send tidiness along with your good tidings, and do it all without lifting a finger. 12108 Roxie. 336-0623. Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm.
Avant Roy Fredericks and crew have been delivering excellence and innovation for two decades, garnering numerous local, national and international awards for their work. From their top-notch colorists and stylists to their luxurious spa treatments, Avant, part of the Aveda Concept team of salons, rules the Austin beauty scene with multiple locations and a stellar reputation. With gift packs to-go that soothe the body and spirit, as well as other fabulous products, the savvy gift-giver might also consider an Avant gift certificate. 9901 N. Cap. of Texas Hwy., 502-8268; 3405 Guadalupe, 458-5231; 318 Colorado, 472-6357. www.avantsalon.com.
C. Kirk Root Design No doubt about it, this jewelry store is one of a kind -- much like the jewelry sold here. Everything is custom-made in the workshop across the road. What's more, the store is owned and managed by one of the only 38 master gemological appraisers in the entire country, so regardless of whether they use your stone or theirs, you are guaranteed careful handling and an accurate assessment. The shop also boasts one of the best collections of Texas jewelry in town: from blue topaz lone star pendants to replicas of Civil War-era uniform buttons. 1802 W. Koenig. 458-8258.
Celebration Enter this cozy Hyde Park nook, and see if you notice the positive She-Ra Princess of Power female vibe. Whether it's for a last-minute gift for a Xmas party or because your best friend in Africa wants a little bit of Austin shipped over, Celebration will fill the bill. The helpful staff pointed out some choice star-shaped stained glass art by local artists. Hang them in a spot with lots of natural light, and they will look phenomenal. They also offered some lovely silver bracelets. If clunky could ever be discreet, it would happen in the form of these bracelets. 108 W. 43rd. 453-6207. Monday-Saturday, 10am-6pm, Sunday, 11am-5pm.
Congress Ave. Card & Gift Shop "Proud Redneck." That sparkly bumper sticker is the first thing you'll spy in the window of this downtown souvenir shop, one of the only places on Congress where you can buy a box of Armadillo droppings (pecan pralines made by Lamme's), trays that make ice cubes in the shape of Texas, and a stuffed rattlesnake. Of course, they also boast Texas postcards, fridge magnets, and bumper stickers -- not all for the beer-before-noon crowd, either. The second thing you'll see in the window: "Don't Mess With Texas Women." 615 Congress, 478-1663. Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm, Saturday, noon-5pm.
Forbidden Fruit Check your list twice for those who've been naughty and nice at one of FF's three locations. The fetish boutique on North Loop offers myriad options. Come down the chimney in a Santa-red baby doll with marabou trim and matching thong ($31), or for men, a red g-string with white marabou trim and plastic "googly" eyes ($14, with Santa hat, $19). If "interactive" gets you off, don't miss the wireless remote-controlled vibrating panty that can be activated from up to 20 feet away ($90). You may get more than you bargained for under the mistletoe this year with any of the offerings at the adult toy store on Neches or the body-piercing salon on Sixth. 108-A E. North Loop, 453-8090. 513 E. Sixth, 476-4596. 512 Neches, 478-8358. Monday-Thursday, 11am-11pm, Friday-Sunday, 11am-midnight. Sunday, 1-8pm. www.forbiddenfruit.com.
Hest Fitness Products Got a nutty exercise nut on your Christmas list this year? Or an over-indulgent loved one who wants to shed a few? Hest can help match equipment to any work out routine, work with you to develop that routine, and service the equipment if it breaks down. If you've got cash to throw around, consider a top of the line Precor EFX 5.23 Elliptical Fitness Crosstrainer ($3,699). Tighter budgets might stock the stockings with weights, mats, balls, and belts. According to Team Hest, these are essential tools for getting in shape, and with 20 years of workout wisdom under their belt, who's to argue? 2438 W. Anderson. 451-4378. Monday-Friday, 10am-7pm, Saturday, 10am-6pm, Sunday, 12am-5pm. www.hestfitness.com.
M.C. Howard's Electronics Inc. Mel Howard started salvaging precious metals from junkyard electronic equipment back in 1981. These days, M.C. Howard's is nothing short of techie heaven: a mother lode of new, used, and in many cases, unique electronic stuff. What kind of presents can you find in this maze of monitors and memory? If you're able to weasel a few particulars out of the computer nerd in your life, you might find that his/her ideal stocking stuffer is within Mel's reach. Or, you could pick up some handy new or used parts: $5 keyboards, $40 monitors, and Pentium processors starting at $109. 9417 Neils Thompson Dr. 837-2525. Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5:30pm, Saturday, 10am-2pm. www.mchoward.com.
Movin' Easy Dancewear Their slogan is "Dancewear for Everywhere," and we believe it after seeing their selection of yoga, dance, and gymnastics apparel. Yoga pants by City Lights and Austin designer Satori are roomy, but chic ($50-$60). If Latin or ballroom dancing is your New Year's resolution, buy an instructional tape ($35) and a pair of high-heeled dance shoes ($110 and up). They also boast a massive selection of point shoes, ($45-$80), ballet, tap, and jazz shoes ($20-$140) and a darling ballet slipper shaped tote bag in pink satin (only $13.95). 502 W. 30th. 474-0980. Monday-Thursday, 10am-8pm, Friday-Saturday, 10am-6pm, Sunday, 1-5pm. 12129 N. FM 620. 257-8850 (same hours, except: Monday-Thursday, 10am-6:30pm). www.movineasy.com.
A New Leaf Florist Whether you're interested in sending poinsettias across the country or a gourmet food basket across town, Jackie & Al Morris of A New Leaf will hook you up ... with style. A TeleFlora, FTD, and VNS affiliate, these botanical brainiacs will get your fresh flowers to the far corners of the globe in no time flat. They'll also ship any number of the holiday-themed baubles (snow-shoed reindeer hiking over Santa Claus candles, festively dressed teddies, et al) that cram the shelves of their 20-year-old shop. 7325 Burnet Rd. 453-5323. Monday-Friday, 9am-5am, Saturday, 9am-3pm. www.anewleafflorist.com.
Pecan Square Emporium Psssst ... wanna know a secret? Pecan Square really is Santa's southern base of operation. Just like the North Pole, only in Texas. What, you still think he makes presents for the whole world out of that one workshop? Have you seen Pecan Square Emporium's ornaments, those wreaths, candles, stocking, nativities, those little figurines? Do you really think somebody could get their hands on that kind of stuff if Santa and the elves weren't involved? 1122 W. Sixth. 477-4900. Monday-Saturday, 10am-8pm, Sunday, 11am-4pm.
Pet Cave The Pet Cave has everything to make Fluffy and Fido pant and purr. How about a holiday sweater or a yummy gingerbread treat? A bottle of wild honey suckle shampoo? And if you're looking for pets, they carry and can special order rodents, lizards, birds, and fish. Conscientious owners Rex and Christy Flaczynski direct future dog and cat owners to certified breeders or the SPCA. What are you waiting for? To the Pet Cave, Robin! 3201 Bee Caves Rd. 328-0191. Monday, 9am-6pm, Tuesday-Friday, 7:30am-6pm, Saturday, 9am-6pm.
Precision Camera & Video Ready for the digital age? Precision Camera is, and after 20 years in business, they'll have your megapixels maxxed out in plenty of time for the holidays. They feature dig cams in a variety of price ranges, and now offer Fuji Frontier technology (for prints cheaper than traditional methods). Check out their accessory kits from $19.95 on up, and impressive selection of photo albums ($14.95-$29.95), and picture frames for under your tree. 3810 N. Lamar, 467-7676. Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm, Saturday, 1am-6pm, Sunday, 1-5pm. www.precision-camera.com.
Room Service In a city known for its thrift-store cool, Room Service is a big ol' fantasyland. Sitting tight in the same North Loop location for two decades, Room Service is a visual overload of retro curiosities and plain-ol' schwanky, nostalgic goodness: the kitschy/camp glass set you always wanted;the ironic/nostalgic board game you never knew you needed; the lamp/coat/ ashtray/bauble that would just look so perfect next to that vase/cowboy shirt/ lighter/bangle. If you've got time to browse -- and we suggest, oh ... hours -- Room Service rewards your patience. 107 E. North Loop. 451-1057. 11am-7pm, 7 days a week.
Round Rock Travel & Tours Oh, why can't Santa fit a fresh perspective and a renewed sense of well-being under the tree? He can. Hearth-huggers notwithstanding, this holiday season in particular demands escape. With a statue of Chisholm Trail pioneer Hattie Cluck presiding over the entrance, Round Rock Travel is ready to forge new routes. Bill Peckham and his trusty staff have seen it all, so whether it's navel-gazing you're after, or just plain fun, they'll have your toes in the sand, your head in the clouds, or your ass on a cruise ship faster than you can hit the eject button. 407 Round Rock Ave., Round Rock. 512/255-4011 or 800/749-7625. Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm, Saturday, 9am-noon.
UT Performing Arts Center This year, the University of Texas PAC celebrates its 20th anniversary season with a schedule that is wildly eclectic and downright fun. And there is something for absolutely everyone on your Christmas list. Mother might appreciate Bobby McFerrin, Celia Cruz, the Gypsy Caravan, South Pacific, while your brother might go for The Ying Quartet, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Dave Douglas Sextet. There are oodles of great performances, and each one as different as the many people you know and love. So why not simplify your shopping this year, and pick up some tickets to the PAC? 471-2787, 471-1444 or www.utpac.org.
Waterloo Records "We found a way to be a part of the community by listening to our customers and doing what they asked us to," says John Kunz, learned mahatma of the still-growing CD giantess Waterloo Records, which has dominated the vending of musical artifacts in Austin for 20 years now. "From day one, we've had extremely consumer-friendly policies, such as listening booths where you can hear the music before buying it." He speaks the truth. You can find any music you want here, and the staff is "friendly and knowledgeable" (his observation) and nice-looking (our observation). There are even some nonmusical items that make perfect gifts: postcards, lunch boxes, T-shirts, and colored jewel boxes that make the eyes swim with delirium. 600 N. Lamar. 474-2500. Monday-Saturday, 10am-11pm, Sunday, noon-11pm. www.waterloorecords.com.
Wheatsville Food Co-Op Who knew? This legendary food co-op has great gifts! Someone you know need an ant farm? They've got 'em... well, one ($9.99). How about handbags? We're talking those of the armadillo ($11.99) and hula skirt ($12.69) varieties. And if the mere image of Jesus on the candle doesn't quite do it, please consider picking up the Jesus action figure ($4.99). Stock is limited, so, go thou and shop likewise, before that armadillo handbag is gone. 3101 Guadalupe. 478-2667. 9am-11pm, 7 days a week. www.wheatsville.com.
Whole Foods Market Organic fruit baskets, homeopathic care kits, custom-crazy florals, transporting coffees and teas -- just a few of the ideas that come to mind upon entering Whole Foods. But you know all that. The real news is custom gift baskets, which you can fill yourself or have their creative elves do it for you (prices vary). And for those beleaguered souls lucky enough just to get to the store, much less plan an entire holiday menu, Whole Food wizards are standing by (Turkey Feast $99.99, Vegan Dinner $69.99, or a la carte by the pound). For recovering control freaks and the psychopathically undecided, a nice, fat gift certificate will do nicely. 601 N. Lamar. 476-1206. 9607 Research (Gateway). 345-5003. 8am-10pm, 7 days a week. www.wholefoods.com.
The Austin Chronicle Okay, we lied. We said this was a list of 20... but this last entry makes it 21. But, hey, we'd feel incomplete if we didn't humbly suggest ourselves as a gift option. What better way to show your out-of-town crew that you care? Gift subscriptions (periodical 2nd class) are $35 for six months, $60 for one year. Individual issues also available. Why not throw in a sweet Chronicle T-shirt? Logo varieties go for a mere $10 (including the rare, goofy 20th anniversary edition, featuring Nick and Louis on a golf cart) and non-logo (Hot Sauce, Music Awards, etc.) for $15 (shipping not included). 4000 N. I-35. (PO Box 49066, 78765) 454-5766. Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm. austinchronicle.com.