Best of San Antonio > Best of San Antonio
Best of San Antonio: Shopping
2011 Best Of winners in the Shopping category
423 W Grayson, (210) 324-0157, rgvintage.com
When Shelby and Jacob Guevara first opened their vintage shop on the St. Mary’s Strip, it courted punks by selling rainbow-colored hair dyes and handmade leather accessories. Four and a half years later, RG Vintage (formerly Redemption Garb) is a full-fledged shopping destination specializing in pre-1990 garb. While guys can match the perfect worn T-shirt with trousers suitable for golfing or ranching, gals can find prairie skirts, leather minis, and LBDs on the same rack. The couple’s handmade reconfigured jewelry sells fast (his before hers, she claims), as do cowboy boots, many of which were recently nabbed at a discount, thanks to a Groupon fortuitously timed with SXSW. RG also buys clothes (but not on weekends), which we took advantage of last week (as spies, of course), trading into an excellent $19 find for a mere $10. Our old Wranglers are now officially up for grabs.
628 S St. Mary’s, (210) 299-4774, facebook.com/VintageHouseSA
919 S Alamo, (210) 257-5132, jiverefried.blogspot.com
200 E Grayson, Ste. 124, (210) 826-6411, thetwig.indiebound.com
The book biz is tough today; with sales going online, even the chains are in trouble. The Twig breaks the trend, however, having upsized recently with a move from a Broadway storefront to bigger digs at the Pearl. More than a trove of fine lit, they take being indie seriously. The Twig supports community arts with poetry readings and an open mic every second Tuesday, and Story Time for wee folk Friday morns. Don’t miss readings by celebs like Sandra Cisneros at this garden of books, where discovering exciting new reads is more fashionable than posing over a cup of joe.
3207 Broadway, (210) 822-4597, hpb.com
4907 NW Loop 410, Ste. 102, (210) 647-5656, ninelivesbooks.com
1824 N Main, (210) 733-5354
In addition to brand-spanking new CDs, music DVDs, and special-edition vinyl released by your favorite contemporary bands, throwbacks hold a special place of honor at 30-year-old Hogwild. But the store also has plenty of novelty items like window decals, customized buttons, and poster flags, not to mention rows upon rows of black T-shirts just begging to be taken home. Looking for hard-to-find stuff? No problem. The scholarly staff can school you on everything from punk and metal to blues and jazz.
3207 Broadway, (210) 822-4597
7959 Fredericksburg Rd, (210) 615-1229, dlair.net
The Avengers hang out in a mansion, the X-Men live in a prep school in Westchester, and the Justice League meet up in a tower on the moon (freakin’ showoffs). In the real world, many San Antonio superhero and gaming enthusiasts call Dragon’s Lair their secret headquarters away from home. With more than 16 years serving SA, Dragon’s Lair has built a reputation as being a geek mecca, carrying all the latest superhero comics, manga paperbacks, and a nice selection of indie graphic novels. Most impressively, DL defies the stereotypical cliché of “dank, smelly comic shop” by being well-lit, impressively organized, and staffed by cheerful experts who treat their customers like good friends. The welcoming vibe extends to their six spacious game rooms, where gamers can throw down on anything from Magic: The Gathering to StarCraft, or just spend the afternoon creating custom figurines.
1534 SE Military Dr #101, (210) 977-8818, collectorsauthority.com
3903 Eisenhauer Rd, Ste. 36, (210) 400-0240, propagandapalace.com
12247 Nacogdoches, (210) 656-8696, thrifttown.com
If you’ve been shopping at Thrift Town as long as we have, and getting there by taking the Perrin-Beitel exit off Loop 410, then you may have noticed that the Department of Public Safety (where we failed our first two driving tests) is now a questionable-looking nail salon. But Thrift Town hasn’t changed one bit: It’s still the clean, organized, color-coded megaplex we fell in love with 20 years ago. On a recent Sunday (when they’re open ’till 6 p.m.), we scoured the racks for something fab with an orange price tag (the half-price color of the day), flipped through old books and not-so-old magazines, and eavesdropped on an adorable pair of geezers. Holding a VHS tape of Mission Impossible ($1.95), Geezer #1 mused, “D’ya think Tom Cruise knew he’d end up in here?” Geezer #2 didn’t think so, dishing perfect non-sequiters, like: “You know those little socks they give you at the hospital? Well, they’ve got ’em here for 49 cents and 69 cents, depending on the color.” Thrift Town, with six Texas locations, buys its stock exclusively from non-profit organizations — like old surgical sock charities, apparently — meaning: way rad finds to be had.
307 W Olmos, (210) 826-2195, boysvilletexas.org/about/thrift.aspx
2100 McCullough, facebook.com/texastrash.clothingexchange
18738 I-35 N (Schertz), (210) 651-6830, busseysfm.com
Like so many points between here and Austin these days, Bussey’s Flea Market, a family owned business since 1978, feels a lot closer than it used to, thanks to all the development of recent years. And San Antonians have done well to get over the hurdle, because from the edge of Guadalupe County, Bussey’s beckons with 500 weekend vendors selling an array of stuff we never knew we needed. Love birds ($22), money trees ($29), vintage lunch boxes (The Six Million Dollar Man can carry your soup and sandwich for $50), and hard-to-find books, such as Portable Voodoo (a steal at $6) await. If you spend all your mad money on guinea pigs, fly swatters, Cuban cigars, or action figures to span the ages (The Fantastic Four, ThunderCats, The Spice Girls, et al.), two onsite ATMs have got you covered. Never been to Bussey’s? Just take exit #177 off I-35 North and look for the giant armadillo in the parking lot.
3903 Eisenhauer, (210) 653-7592, eisenhauermarket.com
9333 SW Loop 410, (210) 623-8383, tradersvillage.com
Angelina Mata is among a handful of local designers who’ve succeeded in making high fashion a reality in San Antonio. A former model who apprenticed under Aveda founder Horst Rechelbacher, Mata gave up a successful career in hairstyling to focus exclusively on fashion. The mother of three balances her two distinct fashion lines — Angelina Mata Reinvintage and Angelina Mata Atelier — with private orders for impeccably crafted bespoke garments. Since winning Best Local Designer last year, Mata’s work has evolved to include high-concept sculptural installations, as seen in Creatures, her well-received exhibition in Blue Star Contemporary Art Center’s Project Space, which nearly sold out.
5152 Broadway # 201, (210) 320-9669, mysewchic.com
Knowing the right tailor is proof the city is your own; though making use of their services might seem too much a luxury. Not necessarily so. With over 30 years of practice, Sew Chic’s Barbara Slusher is a master of her craft, offering alteration and design services for men and women at prices that won’t break your bank. And you’ll feel like a million bucks when you look like a client of London’s Savile Row.
6714 N New Braunfels, (210) 826-7278
While they were not keen on us taking pictures inside the store, the staff at MAC’s North Star location are about the helpingest bunch of associates the makeup-challenged could ask for — and always eager with the demos. Even the most highly skilled in the facial arts trust MAC to keep them up-to-date on the latest trends. Noteworthy: MAC’s Viva Glam line, established to support men, women, and children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS around the world, donates every penny reaped to the MAC AIDS Fund. None other than Lady Gaga is serving as MAC’s Viva Glam spokesperson this year, and after her tour, she’ll be back out spreading the word on the fund and how you can help make a difference.
4025 Broadway, (210) 822-7653, soleboutique.com
Considering that Sole Boutique is on the outskirts of Alamo Heights and has the word “boutique” in its name, one wouldn’t automatically guess that behind its heavy doors lies a sanctuary for street culture enthusiasts and sneaker junkies alike. Sole Boutique almost feels like a gallery, one where the art comes in the form of footwear unavailable anywhere else in the city. Julio and Fabby Rodriguez’s shop regularly stocks Adidas, PUMA, New Balance, Saucony, PF Flyers, and several other brands that are distributed only to boutique accounts by the manufacturers. Footwear ranges from $40-$200, so there is a shoe for anyone looking to distinguish themselves from the pack at prices comparable to the blandest of department stores.
Exclusivity doesn’t end with the unique kicks, either. T-shirts and button-downs from the likes of Kidrobot, IM King, tokidoki, 10.Deep, and Undefeated can also be found amidst the pop-art adorned walls. The flavor of these shirts is decidedly urban and meshes appropriately with the street culture theme that runs throughout the store. Accessories include New Era baseball caps (in styles you can’t find at specialty hat retailers), and Cloud 9 watches whose distinctive styles look like miniature offspring of Willy Wonka and any of those rave kids you knew in high school. Add in a dash of manga knickknacks and the fact that new products arrive every 10 to 15 days and Sole Boutique comes together as a truly one-of-a-kind shopping experience.
200 E Grayson, (210) 826-6770, adelanteboutique.com
4821 Broadway, (210) 368-8600, centralmarket.com
Central Market’s wine department is extremely user-friendly. And with a reported 2,500 wines in-house, it better be. Thankfully, it also boasts an extremely friendly staff that’s not just pretending to know what they all taste like. Even at 8 a.m., you can pick a pro’s brain about which Pouilly Fuissé might pair best with chimichangas. And the speedy chilling station comes in handy if there’s no time to ice down the bubbles. Unfortunately, the powers that be wouldn’t allow us to photograph anything or anyone in the store without going through so-called “proper channels,” but we’re pretty sure you already know what the place looks like.
638 W Rhapsody, Ste. 1, (210) 349-5149, jsfinewine.com
334 W Sunset, (210) 824-3772, shadesofgreensa.com
One of the hottest urban trends is planting, and I don’t mean your grandma’s petunias. Today, it’s chefs’ gardens with heirloom foods, rooftop gardens that cool buildings, and backyards filled with abundance of foliage. Whether food plants or flowers and ferns, the push is to make it local. Shades of Green can provide you with Texas natives harvested from sustainable sources, and for them keeping it organic isn’t an option — it’s a way of life.
3920 N Loop 1604 E, (210) 497-3760, milbergernursery.com
3700 Broadway, (210) 804-0600, schulznursery.com
1821 Bandera Rd #B, (210) 432-5747, dandylandtattoo.com
2011 marks the 15th year in business for Dandyland, and body mod fanatics were quick to praise their favorite shop once again in this year’s Current poll. No other competitor came close to dethroning Dandyland, who has taken top tattooing honors for over five years and come in first for piercing since 2008 (the first year it was a Current Best Of category.) Dandyland has become a household name for those desiring various forms of body art largely due to the shop’s commitment to cleanliness, safety, quality work, and customer service.
“When people hear our name in town, a lot of them associate it with being expensive and pricey,” said Dandyland manager and piercer Miro Hernandez, who has worked at the shop for five years. “But we can’t really buck that stigma, because we provide such a high level of service and quality that it needs to be set at a certain price.”
Dandyland’s piercers are highly regarded for their non-traditional work, and it’s common for other shops around the city to refer clients desiring work of the bolder variety to them. (Obviously, they’re more than capable of handling standard lip, nose, or eyebrow piercings, too.) In addition, the shop has begun to carry more high-end jewelry for those desiring unique pieces. On the tattooing end, Dandyland boasts six artists who easily cover the spectrum of work requested through their diverse styles and frequent group brainstorming sessions. The shop draws a discerning crowd who’s done their homework, and artists like Miles Larsen (who has been tattooing there for 10 years on and off, 14 years total) embody Dandyland’s reputation for quality ink.
4741 Fredericksburg Rd, (210) 979-9877, elementtattoo.com
2710 N St. Mary’s, (210) 736-6900, mrluckystattoo.com
8503 Broadway, Ste. 107, (210) 824-0188, indseyetattoos.com
5545 NW Loop 410 (@Evers), (210) 682-5239, platinumtattoos.com
300 W Bitters #150 (210) 494-3006, theshadesoflove.com
The three sisters who own Shades of Love have successfully removed the “ick” factor from the sex store experience. This is a place you can go alone, especially as a woman, and not be creeped out by leering men fumbling out of viewing booth with leering, still-hungry eyes. It’s so much more than dildos, videos, and fake va-jay-jays. Much here is intended to cater to couples, including a vast selection of books, oils, and everything you could possibly need to connect with that special someone — though no judgment for those who choose to fly solo (or in groups). An extensive lingerie selection will soon include sexy club wear, according to owner Rita Delgado. And look for coming sexologist lectures on such things as how to flirt with your partner, fetishes, and more.
11827 US Hwy 281, (210) 404-0011, sexysite.com
1608 North Main, (210) 472-2800, zebraz.com
5911 Broadway, (210) 828-5558, bikeworld.com
Opened as a Schwinn shop 40 years ago this October, Bike World was the first local bicycling store to seriously champion the people-power trend sweeping the U.S. like an Italian fever in the 1970s. Nowadays, you’ll still find Bike World in the thick of SA bike culture, offering a range of wheels from Bianchi to Fisher from locations in Alamo Heights and 1604 W. Their staff is regularly praised for its knowledge and helpfulness, and even has been known to table area health fairs and transportation meetings.
1414 S Alamo, (210) 858-0331, bluestarbrewing.com/bikes
1931 NW Military, (210) 494-0035, bicycle-heaven.com