Zilker holds more cultural value than its namesake park, known as the venue for Austin City Limits Music Festival. The 78704 zip code extends south from Lady Bird Lake to Barton Skyway.
Aside from the constant traffic that floods Zilker Park with tourists and Austinites alike every day, on the other side of the park rests a 2-mile stretch of businesses that reflect new and old Austin.
For 33 years, South Austin Music off of South Lamar has brought music to the Zilker neighborhood. Owned and operated by Bill Welker, South Austin Music provides Austin with an eclectic place to shop for new and used instruments, music lessons and instrumental repairs, making it one of the largest new and used music stores in town.
Sean Crooks, South Austin Music employee, has been in the music business for 18 years following the fall of his father’s infamous Sixth Street bar, Steamboat. Crooks, a native Austinite, said that as much as Austin is blowing up, it tends to not feel as concentrated and overcrowded when places such as South Austin Music can exist for as long as it has.
“From my mindset, this area feels the most like old Austin,” Crooks said. “I have lived here all my life, and change is change — it is always going to happen. If you don’t get too discouraged by it, it is still my old funky Austin that I know and love.”
While South Austin Music has been in Austin for decades, many small businesses are popping up all over town in an attempt to make a name for themselves.
Thoroughbread, a small-batch artisan bakery that specializes in naturally leavened sourdough, opened its doors three weeks ago in Zilker. Thoroughbread is owned by Ryan Goebel, who grew up a few blocks away from the location of his brick-and-mortar bread shop.
“I gravitated toward the craft and started baking about three years ago,” Goebel said. “I started a business out of my home and did home deliveries. Ultimately, I knew I wanted to grow my business where I started it.”
Goebel is running his one-man shop in the 78704 neighborhood right off of Bluebonnet Lane.
“Instead of trying to be the biggest and best bakery in town, I would rather be Zilker’s bakery and hopefully people gravitate toward it,” Goebel said.
Further up South Lamar, Stardust Vintage is another recent opening in Zilker that has put the spotlight on vintage fashion dating back to the early 1900s and into the late 2000s. Co-owned by two sisters from Jackson, Miss., Amanda Ray and Sarah May opened the vintage clothing store in June.
“We are trying to cultivate a vibe that reflects the community around us being located in South Austin,” May said.
Stardust Vintage is made up of nearly 25 local vendors who curate their own collections. May said by hosting so many different vendors, it assures a diverse collection that makes it possible to have something for everyone.
“We don’t specialize in a certain decade because we want to appeal to different types of styles,” May said. “We haven’t been at it for long, but the community support has been really great, and that is awesome to see in a big city like Austin.”