They say that upon making a new acquaintance, a Texan won’t wait long to slip their provenance into the conversation. Pride in our roots defines the residents of the Lone Star State—and so does an obsession with antiques and all things from the past. From nifty shops in small towns to hamlets known for their collectibles, hawkers and vintage aficionados ensure that the days of yore (and that Texas connection) stay alive.
With the nearby wineries and a growing sophistication among the populace, the quaintness has slowly turned to country cool. Today, Main Street is abundant in stores, which offer everything from cowboy boots to gourmet cheese to house-made perfumes. But antiques still reign, and shopkeepers maintain the tradition of recycling old things with gussied-up facades—always sharing the object’s story. Go to Lone Star Antique Mall on Main Street for its diversity, and to the more upmarket Carol Hicks Bolton on adjacent Lincoln Street for chic pieces.
The tiny town of Round Top in Fayette County, between Austin and Houston on Highway 237, swells to bursting several times a year with one of the country’s most famous antique markets. Nearly 50 years old, the show has grown to include over 20 stellar venues. The original Big Red Barn on Highway 237 offers a vast array of Americana, English Antiques, Country items, and fine glass in a notably curated, air-conditioned space, which extends for 30,000 feet. Next door, the Big Red Tent trades in vintage, while the Continental Tent lives up to its name, hawking curios from across Europe.
In artist-owned galleries, boutiques and ateliers, shoppers will find an array of items, all sold with a personal touch. Stroll around the stores in Town Square and near Olde Towne Plaza. Bargain hunters should time their visits for the first Saturday of the month to experience Market Days, an open-air flea market comprised of more than 400 distinctive vendors. Held at Lions Field, the market presents adrenaline pumping bargains and eye popping variety.
Get your kicks on Route 66—literally. Amarillo’s proud historic district has a potpourri of galleries, boutiques, bars and bistros that pay homage to the motor route’s legendary heyday. There's also a panoply of antique shops, from the Mustard Seed to Maryland House Antiques, and the area also includes the acclaimed Nest, just across Route 66 from Smokey Joe’s Café. Items such as driftwood deer heads, antique mirrors, and drippy chandeliers are some of the prizes shoppers will find.
Kids love Brenham because it's the home to Bluebell Ice Cream, Texas’s beloved frozen treat. But their parents know it as a picturesque city that recalls slower-paced times. Set amid a bucolic pastureland dotted with storybook cows, this area was home to Texas’s first capital. Sophisticated bed and breakfasts, inns, and restaurants bring weekend travelers, who spend hours sorting through the town’s coterie of antique stores. Spots to peruse include Forever Young Resale Shop, Bluebird off the Square, and Schleider Furniture Company.
The owners of Kaboodle knew Denison’s Main Street had potential—and they gave it the shot in the arm it needed when they opened up this 5,000-square-foot cooperative space in downtown. Loaded with artisans in booth-like spaces, the outlet sells jewelry, antiques, crafts and gourmet goods.