I recently spent the morning in the former Brenham Mattress Factory, which is now an inspired modern general store, the Ballad of the Bird Dog. I sipped a latte from its in-house micro coffee shop, talked about Texas makers with passionate supporter and co-owner Jared Anderson, and peeked into the back room, where a barbershop was being set up, all while Anderson’s two sweet pups (bird dogs, of course), Ruby and Rye, roamed around, greeting passersby. Anderson and his wife, Kathleen, have created a design-forward and light-filled retail experience on a charming block in downtown Brenham. My time at their store felt indicative of what’s happening in indie shops across the state, and it’s exciting to see how nimble shop owners are coming up with fresh concepts and creative ways to draw fans of local shopping into their well-appointed spaces. As a follow-up to last year’s piece on the Texas shops of the year, here’s a tour through my favorites shops of 2018.
Curio at Hotel Emma, San Antonio
The shiplap-lined walls of Curio, hidden behind a pair of steel factory doors on the first floor of Hotel Emma, house a mix of interesting finds from Texas makers, including luxe Dos Carolinas guayabera-style robes and other Mexican wares like etched glasses made by hand in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. 136 E. Grayson.
Set & Co., Dallas
If you need a gift for someone who is impossible to buy for, or if you just want a dose of design inspiration, Set & Co., in Oak Cliff, is your spot. The 1922 brick mercantile building is stocked with pretty glassware, delicious jams, and style-forward home and kitchen goods. 841 W. Davis St.
Austin’s high-fashion mecca first started as a tiny shop on Guadalupe near the University of Texas in 1979. Now with local high-profile entrepreneur Larry McGuire at the helm, it’s continued to grow as a hub of avant-garde designers that you can’t find anywhere else in the city. I love the Lamar Boulevard flagship as well as the more casual South Congress location, which is now stocked with a smart collection of home goods (think Garza Marfa blankets, stunning ceramics, and apothecary). 524 N. Lamar Blvd., No. 103, and 1400 S. Congress Ave.
Ballad of the Bird Dog, Brenham
This new addition to the Brenham shopping scene is a smartly curated general store of sorts, featuring leather goods, jewelry, home accessories, apothecary necessities, and apparel, all special pieces crafted mostly by makers, which friendly owners Jared Anderson and Kathleen Matthews search high and low to find; a coffee shop (Mescalito) that boasts beans from roasters that will make even the most discerning coffee snob happy; and a by-appointment barbershop in the back room. 212 W. Alamo St.
Kristen Lee Cole, fashion biz veteran and cofounder of the inspired store Ten Over Six, became the president and chief creative officer of Forty Five Ten in 2018. She merged the two for a concept called 4510/SIX within Forty Five Ten’s sprawling jewel box downtown store that highlights emerging fashion designers; she took 4510/SIX to Miami as well. Under Cole’s guidance, Forty Five Ten opened its Aspen location in November, and its NYC store will debut in the spring. 1615 Main St.
The Modern Shop, Fort Worth
It’s not just the kids who will enjoy browsing in the playful Modern Shop inside Fort Worth’s Modern Art Museum. There are art books aplenty, of course, creative toys are around every corner, and then there’s everything that you never knew you needed, like a pair of Modern cuff links featuring an architectural rendering of the museum’s exterior. 3200 Darnell St.
Nautical Antiques & Tropical Decor 7, Galveston
I stumbled into Nautical Antiques last summer when I was visiting Galveston to check out the newly restored Carr Mansion. I grew up near the water in Corpus Christi, so I am a total sucker for ship lanterns, vintage compasses, and signal flags (I found those and more here). The shop owners spend each November in the ship salvage yards of India, Turkey, and Bangladesh to source the pieces to bring back to their storied downtown shop. 2202 Mechanic St.
STAG Provisions in Austin, Dallas, and Houston
Dapper dudes across the state flock to these handsomely designed Texas shops to stock their closets with button-downs, sweaters, rugged outerwear, and boots. Co-owner and former GAP executive Steve Shuck also brings his knack for interior design into the stores with beautiful displays and vintage goods. 11700 Domain Blvd., Suite 120, Austin; 1423 S. Congress Ave., Austin; 4525 Cole Ave., Suite 140, Dallas; 2614 Westheimer Rd., Houston.
Townsend Provisions, Round Top
From the room filled floor-to-ceiling with vintage boots to the cleverly displayed collection of vintage finds (everything from furniture to retro holiday decor), Townsend Provisions, founded by husband-and-wife team Nick Mosley and Ryann Ford in a charming historic home, also offers whimsical seasonal goods. 101 Bauer Rummel.
Beehive in Austin, Fort Worth, Houston
Claire Fields Craig brings her fun, boho style to life across her three Texas stores in Austin, Fort Worth, and Houston. She stocks her colorful racks with party frocks, bold accessories, and trendy but casual jackets and sweaters for layering. 3300 Bee Caves Rd., Suite 400, Austin; 4808 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth; 2519 University Blvd., Houston.