Contributed by Amy Gabriel

In the market for a one-of-a-kind shopping experience at some of the country's most eclectic and eccentric boutiques? Consider Austin the most deserving digs to lay down your hard-earned retail dollars. If you stopped someone carrying a shopping bag along the boutique-lined sidewalk in the Second Street District and asked which store the bag came from, you're more likely to hear an unfamiliar calling card than a standard chain, along with an enthusiastic story about the cool owner of the shop from whence the tote (most likely eco-friendly) came. A retail destination to many (what better way to combat the sweltering summer temps than browsing apparel in an air conditioned heat retreat?), Austin's own embrace national brands as economic anchors, as found mixed amongst the 700,000 square feet of shops at The Domain, but this Texas mecca is stacked high and wide with independent designers, making our "go local" mentality as widely recognized as our "live music capital of the world" mantra.

The retail scene in a city that considers cowboy boots a black tie option runs the gamut, from newly minted designer label at female-flocked By George and modernly outfitted man cave STAG, to purse string friendly finds revived from the past at Amelia's Retro-Vogue & Relics. We are notoriously under the spotlight for our stellar consignment selection, thanks to beloved South Congress boutique Feathers and other shops, where you'll unearth classic labels at a fraction of the cost. And it takes but a quick glance around the carefully appointed merchandise that indie-spirited shop owners include in their highly-curated flagships, like central denim destination HEM Jeans where you'll be outfitted to perfection, south side décor shop Aviary, which doubles as a wine bar for purchases paired with conversational glasses of Pinot and east bound Busy-Being, an accessory and art focused alternative shop nestled in the back corner of periodical play-land, Domy Books.

As for the trailer culture you read about in our restaurant section, it's not just for foodies; undeniably cool concepts are making an indelible and fashionable footprint, like Bootleg Austin, an airstream on South Congress that is filled to the hilt with funky, vintage footwear found by the owner during her cross-country travels. From neighborhood to neighborhood, and built from the ground up brick and mortar shops to bungalows transformed into boutiques, our emerging shopping scene is prime for the purchasing.

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