Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Patagonia Headed for Austin

Upscale outdoor retailer Patagonia is opening its first Texas store this fall in the old W.B. Smith Building at 316 Congress.

In the 60s, that building housed the Vulcan Gas Company, where local psychedelic rangers like Bubble Puppy, Golden Dawn and the Conqueroo once plied their trade.

Back then, noted some curmudgeonly old Austin bastard who enjoyed downtown more when it was wasteland-with-potential as opposed to rarified boutique, you didn’t need to spend a mint on knapsacks to take a trip.

It’s a somewhat bold move for a niche retailer like Patagonia to move into the heart of downtown, but I imagine this store will serve a dual function as a showcase to drive catalog and online sales. Foot traffic from nearby condo-dwellers and conventioneers disgorged from the future Marriott Mothership won’t hurt, either.

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