Yes, I still have yet to finish my shopping for the holidays. Fortunately, my friend Danielle Groeninger had a fail-proof plan to alleviate the few people missing presents on our shopping lists.
A short, hour-long drive is all it took to experience an annual Austin tradition, the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. Held in the Palmer Events Center near downtown Austin, this haven for shoppers of all kinds runs until Christmas Eve.
After entering, one thing became very clear – the bazaar had tons of stuff for just about everyone.
Of course, I tended to notice more of the geeky, nerdy stuff like Baby Yoda socks or artwork inspired by “Star Wars,” “Firefly” or “Transformers,” but there was much more than that. Oftentimes I would wander off from my shopping buddy and randomly pick up something new in my hand that I had trouble not buying for someone.
Yet, I couldn’t help but notice the Willie Nelson work near the center of the place. Yeah, I looked at the price and wished I was way richer, but there were many other places to distract us inside.
Dani checked out plenty of artistic shops on the way, often focusing on specific pieces or styles.
When she couldn’t make a decision about one particular purchase, I mentioned we could come back after she thought about it more.
We did visit every single place in the bazaar, and I didn’t even mind.
One particular place caught my eye, and I probably lost my companion once more as I made a beeline straight inside.
The artist, Lauren Briere, had her shop full of one distinctive robot who seemed to be caught in a plethora of situations or environments. I can’t really say why I liked her work so much, but after browsing through examples of her art, I discovered one piece that included a sloth riding piggyback on the robot. One of my friends has a major obsession with sloths, so naturally, I walked out with a gift for her. Briere’s website, Robotsinrowboats.com, features many examples of her work and I was a little surprised by how many pieces she had created.
While we were shopping, a band took the stage and started to play Christmas music. The place never really felt over-crowded and I can say all the vendors were friendly and inviting. There was never any pressure to buy anything because most vendors seemed happy just to have people stop and look at their work. And many times, that’s exactly what we did.
We didn’t expect to stay as long as we did, but I did say the smell of pizza taunted me as we walked around. Yes, the bazaar had food and drinks for those seeking them.
We also stopped for a bit and took photos at a photo booth near the end of our trip. And we even explained the premise to the people behind us who seemed a bit confused on how it worked.
Overall, the Armadillo Bazaar proved to be money well spent, and had way more than I initially thought it would.
Between the knick knacks, art work and just overall silly gifts, it does makes shopping (and spending) easy for the holidays.