The Garland District is most recognizable by its historic theater that opened in 1945, but the theater isn’t the only part of the Garland District straight out of the past.
This hidden district is comprised of one long main street of shops and restaurants, book-ended by Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle and the Garland Theater. Many of the businesses on Garland are from a different era, some dating back to the ’40s and ’30s, which give the street a certain charm.
Right next to Mary Lou’s Milk bottle is Ferguson’s Café. In an era where brunch spots are reviewed to death by hordes of hungry millennials, they have somehow missed Ferguson’s.
Ferguson’s retains the classic diner aesthetic with booths that look out into the street. This allows you to feel as if you are in a movie while you carbo-load after a rough night out. The retro yellow color scheme of the restaurant could give anyone a sunny disposition, even if they are lacking caffeine in a big way.
One of the biggest draws of the Garland District is the surprising number of thrift stores that line its scenic street.
“People come to the Garland District because there are a lot of secondhand stores which people really enjoy, plus its really good for the environment,” said Katra Browning, who works at Booktraders, a used bookstore.
Booktraders lies in one of the longest buildings ever, giving it a feeling that the stacks of books might run forever.
“I really like the Garland district because it is a small business community. You know all the other business owners and it’s something not a lot of places have,” Browning said.
Booktraders is set up as an intense maze of bookshelves that one could easily get lost in. It has a large collection of old books with cracked spines — the dream of any book lover. If for nothing else, people should go to Booktraders for the addicting smell of old books.
Groove Merchants, a super hip record store that sells both new and used records, sits right next to Booktraders. Multicolored records line the front window. There are vinyls of anything you can imagine, even some you wish you didn’t. There is a giant budget bin with records priced at less than $7, hosting tracks that range from whale noises, to sweet nothings, to play for your unborn child in utero.
The resident coffee shop in the Garland District is, in fact, not a Starbucks, but Rocket Bakery. Rocket Bakery has a super cool living room vibe, making it feel like you are drinking coffee and working on things in your very own home.
“Being the coffee shop here, it’s really unique. You get to have relationships with all the people who come in which is really cool,” said Tom Okura, barista at Rocket Bakery.
Rocket Bakery feels like a community hub within the Garland District. It’s a place where everyone could just hang out after a stressful day.
“The homes are so close by to the shop and it’s really fun to know your neighbors,” Okura said.
If you are particularly astute, or have ears, you can hear the ’70s music blasting from the store DYD. Drop Yer Drawers is a thrift store specializing in interesting finds from decades past. Walking past the store is an experience within itself, but for someone who loves to go thrifting or for that special someone who has never left the ’70s, this store offers some amazing finds.
It should be known that many of the shops within the Garland District open fairly late in the morning. Many open their doors at either 10 or 11 a.m., while others go so far as to open at noon. If waking up at the crack of dawn and shopping till the late hour of noon is your thing, this is not your target district.
Walking through the Garland District is like walking back in time. There are little bubbles representing almost every decade you could imagine and it is definitely a great place to spend an hour or two.
Spencer Brown is a staff writer. Follow him on Twitter: @Spencerbrownaz.