Mid-century flaneuring always makes me happy. I think it is the cheerful colours – bright oranges, baby blues, spring greens and sunshine yellows.
If you are into vintage and visiting Austin the Lo-Burn (Lower Burnet Road) district is a “must see.”
Lo-Burn IBIZ District
We stumbled upon this up and coming district when we entered “thrift stores” on Google Maps and saw a cluster on Burnet Road (pronounced “Burn-it” by locals) from 49th N Street to North Loop Boulevard. Conveniently, it was in the car2go home area, so off we went.
Here you will find not only three thrift stores, but two mid-century furniture shops, an antique store and an outlet designer women’s clothing boutique, as well as local eatery favourites - Torchy’s Tacos and Tiny Pies. If you walk further south there are some other places that look interesting…but who has time to eat when there are treasures to be found.
Top Drawer Thrift (SW corner of Burnett and W 49th St)
Top Drawer Thrift was the best thrift store we found in Austin by a long shot. While it isn’t the largest it had great quality and selection of vintage clothing, home accessories and art. The displays were fun and exotic. The staff were friendly and the prices were great. The electronic section was the big surprise with unusual items from a huge pile of vintage radio tubes (Brenda couldn’t resist adding one to her collection) to old film projectors. I got a framed kitschy artwork with a Cowboy face and Old Made cards background.
Uptown Modern (5111 Burnet Rd) is like walking into a mid-century furniture art museum. The show room is spacious and the displays are grouped by colour. If I was starting an art collection, this is where I would head.
Gypsies Antiques (5202 Burnet Rd) is a traditional antique store with many very interesting vignettes under glass domes. And Vin Taj (52,000 Burnet Rd) has not only interesting furniture and home accessories, but some great paintings that we would have loved to take home. Darn those airline baggage size restrictions!
Spring Frost Boutique (5101 Burnet Rd)
Though Spring Frost is not a vintage shop (it stocks designer clothing and shoes at deep discount prices), it is worth checking out. The staff were friendly and let me take all the photos I wanted. I love photographing women shoes – to me some are like works of miniature works of art.
American League Alliance (4901 Burnet Rd)
Across the street from Top Drawer is a large American League Alliance thrift store, which is definitely worth stopping into. checking out. They had some great deals on cowboy boots when we were there. It is staffed by charming retired ladies who are very attentive to creating wonderful displays that give the store a vintage, grandmother-like atmosphere.
Savers (5222 Burnet RD)
Savers is Austin’s equivalent of Value Village and is just three blocks north of the Top Drawer.
I am told Torchy’s Tacos (5119 Burnet Rd), an icon in Austin, started with a single food cart. It now has several stores across the city. The Burnet Road eatery’s patio is good place to recharge your batteries.
Tiny Pies (5035 Burnet Road) - Zagat says, “The pies are just like mom used to make, only much much smaller. The petite offerings are modern twists on family recipes and include everything from breakfast pies to strawberry-basil pies, plus quiche, pie pops and mason-jar desserts.” We loved the pecan pies after our Torchy’s tacos.
There is also a fun food truck hub village across the street from Tiny Pies. A bit hidden in the parking lot at the back, but it is worth a look with its own playground and a barbershop up front. How cool is that?
Pinthouse Pizza, Apothecary Café and Wine Bar, Pinthouse Pizza and Phoenicia Bakery and Deli south of W 49th Street all looked interesting.
Of Austin’s eight IBIZ (Independent Business Improvement Zones) Lo-Burn was the most interesting.
The criteria for an IBIZ district include:
- At least 75% locally owned businesses (currently, all districts host 95% to 100% locally owned businesses)
- Have 20 to 100 businesses (current districts have 23 to 90 businesses)
- No more than one mile in walkable distance (current districts range from .4 to 1 mile)
Don’t expect a lot of streetscape improvements - banners, hanging flower baskets or street furniture – along Austin’s IBIZs. And while the distances are walkable, the sidewalks may not be in the greatest shape (nor might there always be one) and streets are more vehicle-oriented than pedestrian-friendly.
But for the urban wanderer, these are interesting places to explore. We went to Lo-Burn twice!
Bonus: We were lucky enough to have the same car2go we’d parked 3 hours ago, still parked in the same spot we left it.
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