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Austin’s Best Shopping Districts: Sophisticated South First says, “Come Explore!”

2010 November 22

Editor’s Note: With the big Christmas shopping season right around the corner, we want to share some great local places to hit up for all the people on your shopping list.  Over the next few weeks we’ll be visiting all seven Austin Independent Business Alliance IBIZ districts to help you get inspired to ditch the mall and buy local!

This week we head to the South First shopping district located on South First from the river to Oltorf.    As cars race through the curves along South First, you are enticed to brave the traffic while criss-crossing the street to explore one local boutique after another.  An almost secret part of town that you want to keep all to yourself, the area has an air of approachable sophistication that makes you feel that you discovered something special.

Morning Star Trading Company

1919 South First, 78704

Walking into Morning Star you first feel like maybe you aren’t supposed to be there. The rows and rows of massage tables and spa sized jugs of massage oils and lotions give the impression of a private spa. But as you make your way around the store, you start to see that they have all the supplies you need to create your own home spa: fragrant incense, relaxing cds, massage lotions, and aromotherapy oils.  They also have a nice selection of jewerly and healing stones, bath salts, and candles.

Who to shop for: Your yogi and spiritual friends; moms who need some at-home pampering.

Gifts from Morning Star

Flashback Vintage

1805 South First, 78704

Flashback Vintage is set up in a house, and the owner says she would not have it any other way. Clothes racks stand in the living room while accessories dangle over the kitchen sink. Closet doors have been removed to display items on the shelves.  One room hosts an entire wall of vintage cowboy boots. And as you walk from room to room, the feeling of home is always present. With lots of sequined sweaters, jackets and tops, what sets this store apart from other vintage stores is the glitter and glitz. Plus, care is taken to display clothes in a way that makes them look current and hip, and make it feel like you will be, too.  They also have a good selection of old concert and band t-shirts for the guys, too.

Who to buy for: Boyfriends, husbands who love vintage t-shirts; girlfriends and wives who appreciate unique accessories

Flashback Vintage

Lovely Austin

1506 South First, 78704

Lovely is AH-mazing!  When normal people clean out their closet they take their stuff to Goodwill, but luckily for you, when the buyers of Dolce and Gabbana, Catherine Malandrino and Stella McCartney clean out their closet, they take their things to Lovely.  Oh yeah, and with shoes by Prada and Gucci, do you need any other reason to go?  And you know these people only wear their clothes like once or twice so everything is practically brand new.  Not only is Lovely a designer consignment store, but they also have vintage couture and clothes by local Austin designers.  When you stop by, be sure to sign up for their email list so you can find out about their yard sales and other special events.

Who to buy for: Yourself - everyone deserves a little Prada every once in while; your fashionista friends

Prada at Lovely Austin

Mana Culture

2214 South First, 78701

The owner of Flashback Vintage told us that we had to check out Mana Culture, but to watch out because we’d probably leave with feathers in our hair.  Intrigued, we headed there, and were blown away by the amazing feathers thoughtfully woven into the owner’s hair.  They looked like some tripped out highlights that can be made as modest (using brown and tan feathers) or as daring (using blue and red feathers) as you like.  Besides the featured feather accessories, the store has beautiful jewelry made by local and international artisans which were displayed in bowls of sand or salt giving the place an earthy elemental vibe.

Who to buy for: Moms, sisters, friends who deserve a special piece of jewelry

Get feathers woven into your hair at Mana Culture

As one of the largest AIBA districts, South First is easily a place you could spend an entire day exploring all the shops, galleries, and restaurants.  It’s also an area you’ll want to return to over and over again to find that hidden treasure  or unique item to set you apart from everyone else.

This weekend is a great time to explore not only South First but all the other local shopping districts as part of Austin Unchained, a movement designed to encourage you to break the chain habit and shop local this holiday season.

What’s your favorite South First find?

Check out more pictures from South First

Incense at Morning Star

Incline table at Morning Star

Rows of boots a Flashback Vintage

The "kitchen" at Flashback Vintage

Designer clothes at Lovely Austin

Lovely Austin

Jewelry at Mana Culture

Local designers at Mana Culture

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