LLANO — If you’re looking for a Spotted Possum among RATS with a touch of Whimseys, you don’t have to locate a hidden village from “Harry Potter” or scour an obscure Tolkien text on Middle-Earth. If you’re serious about finding something truly interesting and unique, head to Llano.
“We have a really interesting mix of businesses and shops here,” said Karri Miller, executive director of Fuel Coffee. “If you walk into some of the shops up and down the street, you’ll never know what you’ll find. It’s quite fun just to go look and just walk around them.”
Former Llano mayor and local advocate Mike Reagor agreed.
“We have this traditional community with the cowboy style, but we also have a mix of other businesses and events,” he said.
Reagor pointed out Llano has a young but thriving art community that helps drive the community’s unique look and feel. But, he added, it still holds to its more traditional roots such as the Western Trappings art display at the Llano museum. People who think they need to head to Austin, San Antonio or other big cities to shop might be surprised by what they find with a stroll around Llano. And it’s not limited to the courthouse square and downtown. Taking a little jaunt north of the river, and even north of Texas 29, uncovers a treasure-trove of shops, stores and restaurants.
Many offer distinct individual styles and flavors.
“I think people would be surprised with what we have in Llano as far as shopping and restaurants,” said Briley Mitchell, the Llano Chamber of Commerce executive director, adding that many of those places can’t be found anywhere else.
In an effort to get more people shopping in Llano, Mitchell and the chamber created Christmas on the Llano. The shop-local event encourages people to get out and explore Llano shops with special events starting Nov. 15. The chamber has purchased several prizes — incrementally larger ones as the event continues — to get people into local stores. It’s simple, Mitchell explained. If a person goes into a participating store and buys something, he or she can enter a prize drawing. The first drawing Nov. 29 is for $20 at the LanTex Theater concession stand. Then, the names get tossed for a new round with further drawings to include tickets to the Asleep at the Wheel Christmas concert; four meals at China Wok; and a $100 gift certificate for Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que.
“We start over after each drawing to encourage people to go shopping again,” Mitchell said.
The chamber is also organizing two Moonlight Madness shopping events (not related to The Picayune’s similar event that was held in October) to encourage businesses to stay open later, offer specials and get folks out shopping in Llano businesses.
“The more people who shop locally, the better it is for the local economy,” Mitchell said.
Back at Fuel, Miller watches as the Lake Bottom Jazz group settles in on stage for rehearsal. And while stores are key to Llano’s unique and thriving shopping, Miller explained that having a healthy mix of eateries, special events and art endeavors bolsters the community.
“We’re growing here at Fuel,” she said. “We just added sandwiches to our menu. And we have regular music events and concerts. So places like Fuel serve as a way to draw people down here as well.”
Fuel, a Christian nonprofit coffee shop, supports a number of outreach programs. But it also serves as a gathering place for people to hold meetings, rehearsals and other activities. Just down the street to the west and on the square, you’ll also find the LanTex Theater, which offers regular shows and movies. The city, the Llano Main Street Project, the community and volunteers are giving the historic theater a overhaul to restore it to its original 1920s style.
All this, along with the shopping and activities, combines to make Llano not just a place but a true Highland Lakes experience.
Go to www.llanochamber.org or call (325) 247-5354 for more information on shopping, upcoming events and activities in Llano.
And, oh yeah, RATS actually stands for Records And Things Strange. Nowhere else but Llano.