The Escape’s shelves are loaded with a multitude of gifts, crafts, jewelry, pottery, and handmade pieces that cater to the full spectrum of shopper personalities. Consider gifts for $25 or under, such as a stamp collector made of cherry wood ($19) or longhorn coaster made of slate ($8 each), or sort through a collection of nightlights to find a stylish solution to your nyctophobia. Prepare for next Valentine's Day by checking the jewelry section and surprising your sweetie with a pewter horny-toad pin, which can also double as a pet if you’re allergic to pets ($12). Visitors unaware of their fated purchase can ask a friendly staff member for help or wander the aisles searching for ways to enhance kitchens, desks, the outdoors, and more.
Adams Gifts & Home Décor unlocks a treasure chest of gift-worthy candles, lamps, and fragrances. Light up a loved one's dark secrets with a Texas-made 15-ounce comfort candle, which shoves the olfactory system into overdrive with more than 40 fragrances, including pumpkin bread, apple strudel, mint julep, and citrus grove ($18). When filled with the proper ambrosial liquid, the Essential Clear Round Lamp crushes odor armies and purifies every whiff that's taken ($42.95, fragrance oil not included). Lampe Berger Oil keeps your lamp burning long into the future with a choice of more than 40 air flavors, such as summer rain, winterwood, fresh eucalyptus, and Atlantic tides ($18.95).
When Felicity Coltman founded it in 1981, the Austin Chamber Music Center's goal was simpler than it is today, yet still ambitious: to create a summer chamber-music workshop for teens. Since then, not only have many alumni gone on to become professional musicians, but the center has expanded into an outreach organization whose concerts and instruction brings chamber music to Austin ears, instruments, and hearts. Adults of similar skill levels gather into small chamber-music groups, whereas youngsters meet with instructors on weekends, during the summer, or in school. Just two years after its founding, the center sent students on two European voyages and hosted musicians from Salzburg, starting an international exchange program that continues today.
In 1988, a unique performance series took form with the center’s Intimate Concerts, which take place in private homes so that audiences can experience the music in a personal way and help their cats learn to read sheet music. Led by artistic director Michelle Schumann the center now holds year-round concerts for a variety of musical tastes, with all programs including live program notes.
Over the last decade, Legendary Beads has sprouted from its humble beginnings—a small storefront with seed beads in terra-cotta pots—into a jewelry-making hub in the midst of a shopping center. Though their digs are much larger, the staff prides themselves on preserving the laid-back South Austin vibe that they cultivated at their original location. The shop glimmers with more than 50 types of beads, stones, pearls, and gems—from amber and coral to jade—which are color-coded and exhibited on easy-to-shop displays. The inventory continues to grow as the staffers bring in the latest beading trends in addition to specific stones and gems requested by their clients. Fostering a sense of community, they welcome guests to have a seat at their beading table to ask questions about certain bead styles, jewelry-making techniques, and which beads taste best with barbecue sauce.
To facilitate jewelry making, they stock chains and tools, such as wire cutters and round-nose pliers, and a certified gemologist leads a jewelry-making and design class, limiting attendance to five students to ensure personalized instruction.
Things Celtic recreates a vibrant version of Ireland and Scotland through an extensive collection of handmade and unique imports. A library of literature feeds historical, culinary, or cultural appetites, and traditional Irish and Scottish teas transport flavors from across the Atlantic. Silver jewelry bends and weaves in the shape of traditional Celtic knots, crosses, charms, and frames surround Ogham artwork, a rare and vertical form of writing from ancient Ireland. Things Celtic also helps friends passionately display their heritage through flags and traditional and custom-made kilts. The hotbed of Celtic pride also takes part in local events, such as music festivals, beer tastings, and seminars on James Joyce's pop-up books.
The largest surviving video chain in the world, I Luv Video is West Campus’s sanctuary for movies, TV shows and video games. The bulk of this Austin storefront is divided up into five rows, each intricately decorated using the spines of old VHS boxes, while movies play on televisions scattered overhead. Chuckle-worthy commentaries written by the staff line the covers of the DVDs, while a back room, known as “Vintage Heaven,” houses VHS tapes, records, cassettes and 8-tracks that send customers back into the past. There’s a real nostalgia vibe inside I Luv Video, where young college types and aging locals alike mingle over hard-to-find titles and obscure videos. And on Tuesdays, after 6 P.M., visitors can enjoy a free beer while browsing through titles.