Lifestyle

The Best Pop-Up Markets in Austin for Finding Eclectic Treasures

Quirky Texas threads, hand-molded mugs, endless vintage goods-peep these Austin pop-up markets.

Photo by Tess Leslie Photos, courtesy of Future Front
Photo by Tess Leslie Photos, courtesy of Future Front
Photo by Tess Leslie Photos, courtesy of Future Front

With the springtime sun shining, it’s the ideal time to stop by one of Austin’s fleeting pop-up markets. These eclectic experiences are locally based treasure hunts-each one filled with such a fortune of goods where you’re bound to hit gold. From psychedelic shag carpets to retro Longhorns gear to prayer candles customized with a picture of your pup, pop-up scores will put your usual Target haul to shame. Not to mention (though we are, clearly, about to mention): the live performances, creative activities, and scrumptious snacks at these pop-ups mean you’ll uncover more gems than just what you purchase. Here’s where to find the coolest pop-ups markets in Austin.

Photo courtesy of East Side Pop Up
Photo courtesy of East Side Pop Up
Photo courtesy of East Side Pop Up

East Side Pop Up

In the great tradition of the traveling market, East Side Pop Up may not be consistent in their weekly location. However, the high-quality of each event is a constant. As a local favorite, East Side showcases vendors who are all based in Austin. On weekends, find it posted at some of the city’s hippest music venues, bars, and breweries, including Lazarus Brewing and The Little Gay Shop. Every Sunday, East Side joins forces with Hotel Vegas. Vendors sell home-made goods: hand-poured candles, screen-printed t-shirts, vintage.

Frida Friday ATX

Shopping at Frida Friday ATX is a great way to support BIPOC, Latinx and queer communities. Although this mercado does occasionally switch up locations, it most often sets up shop at The Brewtorium in North Austin. Its events are resplendent with creative vendors whose wares include sterling silver chain necklaces, gem-shaped oil diffusers, and fruit-flavored rim paste to zhuzh up your cocktails. At the same time, the Frida Friday ATX experience encompasses so much more than just getting your spend on. The market furthers their mission to address societal injustices through incorporating drag performances, donation drives, and activities which honor cultural traditions into its events.

Photo by Allen Lafuente, courtesy of North Loop Pop Up Market
Photo by Allen Lafuente, courtesy of North Loop Pop Up Market
Photo by Allen Lafuente, courtesy of North Loop Pop Up Market

North Loop Pop Up Market

With a plethora of modern houses popping up across the city in recent years, it can often seem like the Austin landscape is turning into one homogenous blob. However, the North Loop neighborhood feels like one of the areas where a distinct, authentic flavor still remains. Take in the vibes at the North Loop Pop Up Market, which is hosted monthly outside the Beard Brand Campus on East 51st. Curated by gently used item experts Lonesome Wolf Vintage, this market has a heavy emphasis on thrifted clothing and decor. Nonetheless, among the racks of soft, single stitch shirts, there’s still a smattering of makers serving up mixed-media mosaics and small-batch hot sauce. To complement your browsing, there’s also DJs spinning vinyl and food trucks galore.

Austin Witches Market

At this bimonthly market, which focuses on elements of witchcraft and magick, find your spiritual self. Or, at the very least, you can find a dope David Bowie-themed tarot deck and blissful herbal tea blends to melt away the workweek stress. Organized by magical arts and herbal goods store Yarrow & Sage this market is often held in the shop’s own backyard. As one would expect, booths are plentiful with striking displays of crystals, ritual candles, and enough bundles of sage to cleanse a 20-mile radius of your ex’s bad energy. Should rose quartz alone not suffice, you can take a deeper dive into insight with a tarot reading from one of the many talented deck specialists set up across the market. And, if your birthday is around the corner, you’ll get a discount on the market’s ticket admission fee during their celebration of your star sign.

Photo by Tess Leslie Photos, courtesy of Future Front
Photo by Tess Leslie Photos, courtesy of Future Front
Photo by Tess Leslie Photos, courtesy of Future Front

The Front Market

You can always count on badass local nonprofit Future Front Texas to be at the fore of events that amplify female and queer voices. That ethos is on full display at The Front Market, the twice-yearly pop-up they host every spring and fall. In an effort to provide greater support and visibility to an under-served population, the event highlights over 175 women and LGBTQ+ small business owners from around Texas. And, with vendors offering paint-decorated cowboys boots, lemon trees, and funky statement earrings, you’ll want to visit them all. The 2023 spring market (May 13 & 14 at Distribution Hall) is set to bring the party with drinks, chef-catered bites, DJ sets, craft demonstrations, portrait booths, and queer speed dating.

Austin Flea

Some may prefer to pair their pint of beer with conventional choices like greasy burgers or pepperoni pizza. Instead, may we suggest an artisanal good to go along with that pilsner? Austin Flea, a pop-up market featuring local artists and vintage vendors, brings together items and IPAs multiple times a month. While this particular market does move venues every weekend, the majority of spots in rotation are breweries. Austin Flea has brought creative crafters, including wood carvers and ceramic artists, to hock their goods at such craft drink hubs as Meanwhile Brewing, Jester King Brewery, and Zilker Brewing Company. And, in order to provide shoppers with a variety of different products, Austin Flea carefully selects a very specific lineup of vendors for each event they run. In other words, such a sweet selection of stuff probably means you’ll end up leaving with more than just a buzz.

Mutiny Market

When it comes to finding a great bagel sandwich, or a restaurant reservation during SXSW, Austin may disappoint you. But you can trust that the city’s music scene will never let you down. Consequently, the close ties that Mutiny Market has to various venues and festivals speaks volumes about this pop-up. More likely than not, you have already lusted after vendors’ goods when passing by their booth at ACL or Two Step Inn. Luckily, Mutiny’s frequent showcases at Hotel Vegas and The Volstead Lounge give you the chance to shop ‚Äď without the fear of missing Lil Nas X’s opening song. Honestly, set break isn’t enough time to fully browse the beaded necklaces, crocheted crop tops, and crates of rare records peddled by Mutiny’s merchants. And, with this market regularly featuring live music performances and DJ sets, the beat don’t stop as the tags pop.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Molly Moltzen is a writer living in Austin, TX. You can find her on Instagram at @molsquared.

Lifestyle

The Best New Bookstores in LA are Curated, Specific, and Personal

Discover a new favorite book, join a book club, and maybe even do some karaoke at the new wave of LA bookshops.

Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

A couple of years ago, the legendary Powell’s Books in Portland released a perfume designed to evoke the smell of a bookstore. The scent has notes of wood, violet, and the lovely and unusually precise word biblichor, the particular aroma of old books. The reality of the scent is what it is-mostly sweet and floral-but more important is the imagery it conjures. The best bookstores are both cozy and mysterious, familiar and surprising, with endless potential for discovery.

Los Angeles has a wealth of independent book sellers, including beloved legacy shops like The Last Bookstore, The Iliad, and Chevalier’s. But a new wave of bookstores has been growing over the last few years, shops that eschew the traditional one-of-everything mindset to focus on specificity, curation, and point of view. There are bookstores with themes, bookstores that double as event spaces, bookstores that reflect their neighbourhoods, bookstores that take inspiration from a specific person-whether that’s the shop owner, a historical figure, or a little bit of both-and so many more.

Like the niche-ification of the internet and the culture at large, these new and new-ish bookstores provide a space to discover books, ideas, and perspectives led by an expert, the kind of things that you may never have found on your own. They can also be a safe harbour for pure nerdiness, a place to dive deep into your favourite category or cause. To help you on your way, we’ve put together a list of some of the best new bookstores in LA, with a focus on curated shops with their own specific perspectives.

Photo courtesy of Octavia's Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf

Octavia’s Bookshelf

Pasadena
Pasadena is a famously book-friendly city, with bookstore royalty in the form of legendary Vroman’s and its own literary alliance. Now it has one of the most exciting new bookstores too. Octavia’s Bookshelf is owner Nikki High’s tribute to the science fiction master Octavia E. Butler, who was a Pasadena native herself. The name of the shop provides a clue into High’s inspiration, titles she imagines Butler would have had on her shelves, with a focus on BIPOC authors. The storefront is small, but the collection is impeccably curated and the space is cozy and welcoming for readers of all backgrounds.

Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop

North Figueroa Bookshop

Highland Park
Vertical integration can be a beautiful thing, especially when it allows independent creators more control over their products. The new North Figueroa Bookshop is a shining example of the concept, a storefront built on a collaboration between two publishers, Rare Bird and Unnamed Press. North Fig features titles from those presses, of course, including lots of striking literary fiction and memoir, but it also features a curated collection of other books. They’ve made it a point of emphasis to serve the needs of the local Highland Park, Glassell Park, Cypress Park, and Eagle Rock community-there’s lots of fiction from fellow independent publishers, other general interest titles with a focus on California history and literature, and plenty of Spanish-language books.

Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

Zibby’s Bookshop

Santa Monica
Speaking of vertical integration, there’s another new combined publisher and bookstore on the other side of town. Zibby’s Bookshop is the brainchild of Zibby Owens, Sherri Puzey, and Diana Tramontano, and it’s the physical home of Zibby Books, a literary press that releases one featured book a month. That system is designed so that each book gets the full attention and resources of the press. Owens is an author, podcaster, and book-fluencer, and she has become something of a lit-world mogul with a magazine, podcast network, event business, and an education platform too. The shop has a unique sorting system, built around a feeling for each book-in store many of the shelves are labelled by interest or personality type, like “For the foodie,” or “For the pop culture lover.” On their webshop, you can browse for books that make you cry, escape, laugh, lust, or tremble. There are recommendations from Owens and the staff, sections for local authors, family dramas, and books that have just been optioned. If this all seems a little overwhelming, you should probably avoid the section dedicated to books that make you anxious.

The Salt Eaters Bookshop

Inglewood
Inglewood native Asha Grant opened The Salt Eaters Bookshop in 2021 with a mission in mind-to centre stories with protagonists who are Black girls, women, femme, and/or gender-nonconforming people. Over the last year and change that it’s been open, it has also become a community hub, a place for Inglewood locals and people from across town to drop in, to see what’s new and to discover incredible works in the Black feminist tradition. They also host regular events like readings, discussions, and parties.

Lost Books

Montrose
Thankfully, legendary downtown bookshop The Last Bookstore’s name is hyperbole, and owners Josh and Jenna Spencer have even gone so far as to open a second shop, Lost Books in Montrose. Instead of the technicolour whimsy of the book tunnel at The Last Bookstore, Lost Books has a tunnel of plants that welcomes you into the shop, which opened in the summer of 2021. They sell those plants in addition to books, and coffee and vinyl too, which makes Lost Books a lovely destination and a fun little surprise in the quaint foothill town just off the 2 freeway.

Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe

Stories Books & Cafe

Echo Park
Ok, this one is fudging the criteria a little-Stories has been open for almost 15 years. But over those years the shop has become a pillar of Echo Park community life, hosting readings, discussions, and events, and their cafe tables function as a de facto office for about half of the neighbourhood on any given afternoon. After the tragic recent passing of co-owner and Echo Park fixture Alex Maslansky it seemed like the shop’s future was in doubt, but thankfully after a brief hiatus co-owner and co-founder Claudia Colodro and the staff were able to band together to reopen and keep the beloved cafe and bookstore going strong.

Page Against the Machine

Long Beach
The name alone makes it clear what you’re getting at Page Against the Machine-revolutionary progressive books, with a collection centred on activist literature, socially conscious writing, and a whole lot of political history. The shop itself is small but the ideas are grand, with fiction by writers like Richard Wright, Colson Whitehead, and Albert Camus next to zines about gentrification and compendia of mushroom varieties. They also host regular readings and discussions.

Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte

Re/Arte Centro Literario

Boyle Heights
Boyle Heights has its own small but mighty combined bookstore, art gallery, gathering space, and small press in Viva Padilla’s Re/Arte. Padilla is a poet, translator, editor, and curator, and as a South Central LA native and the child of Mexican immigrants, she’s focused on Chicanx and Latinx art, literature, and social criticism. Re/Arte’s collection has a wide range of books, from classic Latin American literature to modern essays and everything in between. Re/Arte is also now the headquarters for sin cesar, a literary journal that publishes poetry, fiction, and essays from Black and Brown writers. There are always community-focused events happening too, from regular open mics and zine workshops to film screenings and more.

The Book Jewel

Westchester
Most bookshops host events, but few host them with the regularity of The Book Jewel, the two- year-old independent bookstore in Westchester. Their calendar is so full with readings, several different book clubs, signings, and meet and greets that there are sometimes multiple events on the same day. The shop also hosts a ton of family-focused readings, with regular storytime on Sunday mornings often followed by a talk with the author. It’s a great fit for the relatively low-key (but not exactly quiet) suburban neighbourhood, and it’s no coincidence that storytime lines up with the Westchester Farmers Market, which takes place right out front.

Reparations Club

West Adams
Most bookstores lean into coziness, aiming to be a hideaway for some quiet contemplation or maybe a quick sotto voce chat-not so at Reparations Club, the exuberant and stylish concept bookshop and art space on Jefferson. Owner and founder Jazzi McGilbert and her staff have built a beautiful and vibrant shop full of art from Black artists, including books but also records, candles, incense, clothing, and all sorts of fun things to discover. There’s a perfect seating area to sit and hang out for a while, and they host a range of wild and fun events from readings to happy hours, panel discussions to karaoke nights and more.

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Ben Mesirow is a Staff Writer at Thrillist.

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