Did you know that Austin has banned plastic bags? Not the good ones but the really thin ones you get in supermarkets. What a great idea! Wish someone had told me though to bring my reusable bags to Austin with me for the shopping.
Primadora is right next door to Magnolia Cafe South, one of Austin's most popular restaurants and one our family always visits when we are in town. It's really popular and there is always a wait,but we don't care because we are always looking to see what's new at Primadora.
What Primadora has going for it besides its convenient location on So. Congress is the variety and uniqueness of the items. And the staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the merchandise.
What to buy: Enter with an open mind. You'll see stuff you hadn't even thought you, or a special someone, needed!
I've bought a precious baby feeding set in bright orange stripes and polka dots, of course my Keep Austin Weird t-shirt, some really funky jewelry, a graduation gift for my son - an MBA in a pocket size book (hoping to save another $30,000 in tuition?!).
What to pay: Prices are moderate, well in line with other Austin stores, not pricey, but not discount. You're not going to find this kind of stuff at Walmart...
This a cool, eclectic store in downtown Austin that has products from around the world. They specialize in Folk art, jewelry, textiles, clothing and lots of interesting trinkets, such as Buddha and Hindu items. This is a great place to come and wander around. Good place to get items from Mexico, Nepal and South America.
This store is also a special place for me, because they are carrying one of my own postcards that I made of "Sadhus of Nepal".
Along Sixth Street you'll find several souvenir shops, but we chose to stop at SAINT X. This shop had all sorts of Longhorns souvenirs ranging from bumper stickers to t-shirts. We selected several cool t-shirts from adult to child size to take home with us.
The sales clerk was very helpful in showing us the different types of t-shirts available. Although his store was filling with souvenir seeking customers, he spent a nice amount of time helping us make a decision on which ones to purchase.
The store was crammed full of merchandise and it would be hard to imagine anyone having trouble finding a souvenir t-shirt to their liking. Hours are Mon.-Tue. 12Noon-12 am; Weds. 12Noon-2am; Thurs. 12Noon-2am; Fri. 12Noon-3am; Sat. 12Noon-3am and Sun. 12 Noon -12 am.
What to buy: University of Texas Longhorns souvenirs
What to pay: $14.99 for an adults size t-shirt
100 W North Loop Blvd
Austin, TX 78751-1943
Phone: (512) 453-1850
This little japanese store has a little bit of everything. Snacks, pancake flour, frozen meat & fish, calrose rice, wine, tea sets, vegetable cutters, chopsticks, rectangular tamago pan... but bento sets.
The owner is very friendly. I usually ring her up to check if she has a certain item I want before I head over to the store.
The more traditional chinese folks will tell you that dressing in morbid colors does no good for your luck. The exterior of this store IS black. I was like, "What? that's so sick." I meant that it's sick in a cool way. It's a gigantic grand piano (see photo). Pretty unique, don't you think?
This is the only Fry's in Austin. This store is huge! There are about 13 different models of webcams, plenty of computer and console games, computer parts, nice looking laptop bags and backpacks, laptop skins, office furniture, CDs and so on.
If you're use to going to Best Buy to look at computer stuff, you'll be glad to know that Fry's carry a lot more items.
You'll notice the big yellow tag on almost every item that says "LOWEST PRICE GUARANTEED". I suggest you do your research online and about before you take that line seriously.
There is a cafe inside which is cool if you wanna hang out while waiting for your friends or spouse to be done with their 3 hour electronic shopping. There's a Half Price Bookstore at the other end of the block too if you feel waiting at the cafe for 3 hours gets boring.
Continued from my previous entry of Asian grocery-
MGM Indian Foods
Rich Creek Plaza
7429 Burnet Road
Store hours: Monday- Saturday 11am-pm
Sunday - 12p.m- 9pm
I came here to get some curry leaves and to check out the store. It was a little hard to find as it's tucked in the far end corner of the plaza. Looked quite unassuming from the outside. Oooh, you'll be greeted by the waft of spices and the friendly owner as you walk into the store. I asked for some curry leaves and they only had dried ones in packets. Was told they weren't in season. It was winter, maybe? I found frozen roti prata and chapati, tosai, grated coconut, etc in the frozen foods section. Cool! I grabbed a pack of frozen chapati made in Malaysia. Bah! I asked if they had a coconut grater. None. That's ok, I thought.
There's a huge selection and number of Hindi, Indian and Bangladeshi VHS tapes. They look worn out but I'm glad someone is providing the homesick peeps some entertainment. This is an average size store. Good enough to get the essentials also if you want Nescafe, SunSilk, soaps, tea and stuff made in India other household items from South Asian countries.
The items available in H-E-B are very similar to Wal-mart, more concise... sans the ultimo low prices.
Comparing with Wal-mart also, H-E-B has a better selection of Mexican ingredients and Asian spices. I was looking for Calrose/ sushi rice once and found it here. There are coupons stacked on the aisles and you can use them right away.
I haven't found any fresh south Asian ingredients here such as lemongrass, pandan leaves, etc. But you can find other things to work with your cooking and daily necessities.
Side note: Check out my other (restaurant) tip - Maui Wowi Smoothies & Coffee
I miss the convenience of getting the very always available spices and ingredients back home in Malaysia. Also, more often than not, sundry shops as we call it are a stone's throw away from home if you need to make a quick stop. The upside of Asian grocery shopping in the US however, is the variety from other ethnicity.
Here's a run down of a few Asian stores I've been to in Austin. I will be updating it from time to time when I can.
MT Supermarket (Photos):
10901 N. Lamar Blvd., Bldg G
Opens daily: 9am to 9pm
Biggest oriental store in Austin by far. Vietnamese owned, stocks are mostly catered for Vietnamese. Has a wide variety of spices and ingredients from South Asia, fresh seafood with seasonal crabs and crawfish. Essential ingredients like lemongrass is also available in the frozen food section. They sometimes have fresh pandan leaves in the fresh vegetables section. Pricing, slightly higher than others.
Chinese new year and other oriental decor available.
Asia Market (Photos):
8650 Spicewood Springs Rd#115
Opens daily: 10am-9pm
My latest find. There's a cafe (Asia Cafe) at the back of the store that serves Sze Chuan food. I have a feeling I might try it someday after much good reviews from friends. This is a quick stop store for me, seeing it's close to me as well.
They haven't got fresh seafood and a big variety of frozen foods. But it's good enough to stop by if you've run out of oyster sauce. There's a small selection of greens and they sell some knick knacks like bags or decorative items.
Opening soon a few doors away is an Indian store (see photo).
Hong Kong Supermarket:
Opens daily: 9am-9pm
8557 Research Blvd # 130, Austin
Average size store, narrow aisle. There are maybe 4 cashiers so it takes a bit of time to check-out. I almost gave up waiting but I needed some galangal and taro for cooking that weekend. The selection of foods and household items are slightly larger than Asia Market. Unilke Asia Market, they have fresh seafood here. You can also get Vietnamese desserts and snacks, pastries at the front of the store. There's a H-E-B Plus a few doors away, if you need to get more provisions like meat and vegetables.
Din Ho, a chinese restaurant next door is a much mentioned place. Mostly for the harsh service and 'meh' food.
Asia Market would be my other quick stop grocery store.
I browse their online store quite often. The clothes and home decor items have a cool edge to it. The online clearance items are better than what you can find in their sales rack in-store. They do have pretty nifty clothing accessories, home decor, gifts and books too.
There's an upbeat vibe about Urban Outfitters. I think it's also got to do with it being near UT. Demographics of in-store customers... definitely young... uni students... and boy, can they swipe their credit cards fast! Most of them look so sure of their purchases. They shop with confidence. Hmmm...
Me? I like browsing most of the time. I do love UO, but I prefer to DIY gifts and certain housewares. The clothes are a little overpriced for me. But of course, I'm comparing shopping the same kind of styles and items with what I get from Kuala Lumpur, where I'm from and some other indie stores on Etsy.
Profanity alert: Check out the photos, see if you can tell.
Toys, they are versatile and have many uses. Think about the endless possibilities of what you can do with them. Are they only good for kept in the unopened boxes and bubble wraps? OK, I hear you toys and comic collectors scoffing already. But hey, I'd say the Spawn figurines and Fantastic Four comics can be collaborated into your home decor. WHY NOT? That's timeless. Home decals, wall sconces are kinda over used by now, don't you think?
Wonko's is packed with toys, comics, trading cards and such. There's a spot at the back of the store for you cards buff to hang out and do your thing. The guy at the counter is not overly friendly, which is fine by me. One could easily spend a while just browsing at the items and check out the items to be traded in. The website allows you to check the current and upcoming stocks too if you wanna do that.
Sunday - Monday, 11am - 6pm
Tuesday - Saturday, 11am - 8pm
Now, where should I place the AVP figures?
If you're into mid-century, you will love this place. I liked that the items in the store were well maintained and it wasn't like a junk store like some I've been to. You can try on the clothes and shoes. Look at the photos to get an idea of the kind of things sold here. There are other vintage stores along this street, so take your time to shop around a little.
Pricing: Some things cost a lot but if you're a collector, I don't suppose you'll mind paying so much for a piece of vintage chair or jewelery. It is not a very large store, but it has a lot of interesting items. Also a good walk-through on a weekend.
Other items - Match box/ Records/ Rolling Stone Magazines/ Mugs/ Curtains/ Fabrics/ Furniture/ Clocks/ Posters/ Kitchen appliances/ Vase/ Radio/ Rugs/ Toys/ Telephone/ Ashtrays
Today, I decided to check out a couple of consignment stores - Next To New and Room Service Vintage.
Next To New is spacious and carry items like vintage pianos - priced about $1500 each, furniture, lamps, clothes, accessories, hats, TV sets, cabinets, potted plants, kitchen appliances and home decor to name a few. Stocks are frequently replenished. Take notice of the tags and there are indications of price slashes and how much that particular item may be reduced to the following week or month. The layout of this store is spacious and it wasn't crowded on a Saturday afternoon.
The condition of the items are in pretty good shape but do expect some to look old and worn out. Price wise, I'd say they're a little pricey. But, if you have a knack for shopping for consignment furniture and you like refurbishing them, then this place may work for you. Good to just do a walk-through on a weekend anyway.
When you get to Austin, one of your first stops should be to the Austin Visitor Center. You can get free maps, a free visitors guide and great information on things to do in the area. A stop to the visitor center will help make the rest of your trip a lot easier. If you can't get a chance to make it to the store, then you can get great information from the website http://www.austintexas.org
What to buy: You can buy uniquely Austin gifts and postcards...but best of all, you can get free advice on what to do in the area!
Its like the Harbor Freight catalog coming to life! So many tools to choose from, and the prices are great, especially during their Christmas sales. Maybe they have other specials throughout the year as well.
(TO SEE SOME OF THE GOODIES I GOT, CLICK THE PHOTO!)
What to buy: wrenches, screwdrivers of every description, clamps, brushes, pop can crushers, files, locking key boxes, etc. etc.
What to pay: cheap
THE PHOTOS HERE should illustrate the type of shops you can find at the Arboretum Mall. Sharper Image, for example, and Restoration Hardware.
What to buy: ANYTHING YOU DESIRE
What to pay: ITS A BIT PRICEY, except the Barnes & Noble bookstore seemed to have standard prices.