Sometimes the greatest treasures live in your own backyard. While I’ve lived in Garden Ridge over four years and driven down FM 2252 a number of times, I’ve only visited a couple of shops in the charming Bracken Village. A rare sunny San Antonio day in February presented the perfect opportunity to explore.
Billed as a “lovely country shopping village,” Bracken is a warm jumble of houses and buildings from the turn of the century. Restored cottages, barns, and shops are spread over a tranquil 10 acres of oak-shaded bliss. Picket fences and gingerbread ornamentation make a regular shopping day feel more like a visit to a quiet farm neighborhood from the late 1800s.
Opened in 2000, Bless Your Heart, a deliciously girly store, is owned and operated by Aggie sisters. With its timber fencing lined with pink cruiser-style bicycles, BYH is the best gift shop and boutique this side of town for the #somebodyhastobethecutest crowd (their hashtag, not mine). The store offers a great mix of reasonably priced, trendy apparel, accessories, and shoes. They stock an abundance of sassy, salty, themed T-shirts—think “I Slapped Ouiser Boudreaux” and “It’s Okay Guacamole. I’m Extra Too.” Heather Gauthier canvases and tea towels are juxtaposed with seasonal displays; currently, stuffed bunnies, bunny books, and a totes adorbs bunny vanilla lip gloss are front and center. BYH is my go-to for baby shower and teacher gifts. From shirts to mugs to candles and signs, this boutique makes it easy to pamper a new mom and spoil our educators.
Have you ever walked into a kids boutique and thought, “Dang! I wish they had that in my size?” Coral’s Cottage is one of those places. A chambray ruffle dress paired with rose gold moccasins? Yes! A white, pink, and orange embroidered tunic with coral tights and fringe booties? Sign me up! Ruffle Butts, mermaid blankets, Baby Bling Bows, and a healthy selection of Melissa and Doug toys make this an easy place to buy for all the littles. Boy stuff was a little underrepresented, but if you are looking for Fiesta wear, pint-sized Guayaberas are a sure thing. Coral’s Facebook page also showed coordinated, but not overly matched sibling outfits perfect for family photos.
If you’re a sports mom, Ooh La La Bags & More is the store for you. They are happy to customize baseball, soccer, basketball, dance, and cheer t-shirts with all or none of the bling you want. Pair your shirt with a matching hat and earrings and you’re ready to cheer on your child. Women’s clothes, rodeo wear, kids’ outfits, and themed shirts in bold colors with lots of animal prints dominate. The store also has an impressive collection of American Girl Doll clothes and seasonal decorations.
Amor Mio describes itself as a Mexican boutique. The boutique carries a variety of beautiful Oaxacan dresses in festive colors, handmade with striking embroidery. Handmade huaraches also come in colorful palettes of orange, purples, and green. Shelves of Mexican peasant blouses, pottery, and display crosses are also available. The best find here was a small, handmade Frida Kahlo notebook. The trend at Amor Mio is definitely handmade.
The Avocado Café and Juice Bar is a personal favorite for a light and healthy lunch. Air Force Veteran family owned, it has just the right relaxing vibe and homey atmosphere. Housed in a beautiful cottage with welcoming porches, the food is as attractive as the setting. With offerings like homemade Kombucha, milkshakes, smoothies, and custom juice squeezes, choosing a drink is just the start of difficult choices. Will you choose Fifi’s Curried Chickpea Soup with coconut milk, sweet carrots, tomatoes, peppers, and chickpeas, or GG’s Award-Winning Chili, a sweet and savory blend made with ground Angus chuck and special seasonings? The Toasted Avo-Chicken & Cheese Sandwich, with roasted chicken breast, Monterey Jack cheese, and avocado on wheatberry toast, is my go-to meal. The Café specializes in gluten-free offerings and has a variety of baked goods for sale. Not to be missed is the Sunday Brunch, with homemade scones, veggie frittatas, breakfast flatbread, and a delightful avocado Eggs Benedict. Yum!
This is just a sampling of the many shops that await at Bracken Village, located at 18771 Nacogdoches Rd. (FM 2252). Click here for a full list of stores. I promise you won’t regret a visit to this best-kept shopping secret!