Sixth and Lamar
It’s hard to believe this vibrant and busy intersection was once a collection of used car lots. Now, the vehicles bustling around these streets are hybrids, convertibles, and scooters en route to the city’s coolest large-scale stores. In fact, this intersection is a microcosm of Austin’s prototypical population—literate, organic, outdoorsy music fans.
The veteran of the group is Waterloo Records (600 N. Lamar Blvd., 512/474-2500, www.waterloorecords.com), regularly voted one of the country’s top music stores. Waterloo is a music lover’s paradise, with tens of thousands of CDs and hundreds of vinyl albums catering to every style, refreshingly categorized in alphabetical order (as opposed to genre). Waterloo hosts in-store appearances by big-name artists on a small stage, and is one of the few remaining places where music fans can hang out in person with like-minded souls (and employees) to share their latest musical discoveries.
Across the street is Book People (603 N. Lamar Blvd., 512/472-5050, www.bookpeople.com), another nationally recognized independent retailer where customers often find themselves spending an entire afternoon. Billing itself as the largest bookstore in Texas, Book People offers an impressive range of literary works, and is a destination for literary types across the state, especially for readings and appearances by world-renowned authors and politicians.
Next door, the gigantic REI (705 N. Lamar Blvd., 512/320-8027, www.rei.com) provides the city’s weekend warriors with enough outdoor gear to set up an impressive base camp. REI is in the space formerly occupied by Whole Foods Market, which moved across the street (512 N. Lamar Blvd., 512/476-1206, www.wholefoodsmarket.com) when it opened its impressive world headquarters and flagship grocery store.
At 80,000 square feet, it’s a spectacle to behold—stunning displays of colorful produce and delectable foods blend with plentiful islands offering freshly prepared items (salads, seafood, cheese, pastries, coffee) alongside aisles of organic and health food items. Whole Foods draws a large crowd of in-store and to-go diners, and the bustling scene and almost overwhelming abundance of edible options attracts foodies and visitors from across the country.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition