I step out of the jewelry store into the sun, quite pleased with my new purchase—a pair of silver teardrop earrings that now dangle delicately from my earlobes. My new, one-of-a-kind earrings had set me back only $40, and best of all, they were handcrafted out of sterling silver by a passionate local artisan.
With an intense shopper’s rush, I’m eager to keep the momentum moving forward. The only question on my mind is: Where to next? With all the options before me—specialty-food and kitchenware shops, modern home-décor boutiques, antiques stores, wine purveyors, gift shops, a “gourmet” dog-supply store, and even an old-fashioned five-and-dime—you might think I am in a major metropolis.
Not quite. I’m exploring the town of Fredericksburg—a Hill Country shopping destination that
is at once a timeless throwback and a trendy treasure trove. This petite town (population: 11,000, give or take) packs a big punch with more than 150 shops, the majority of them strung along his-
toric Main Street.
“Shoppers can find almost everything in Fredericksburg, from traditional German clothing to vintage Texas attire,” says Joe Remini, the designer and craftsman responsible for my new earrings. Joe founded his shop, The Texas Silver Rush, 12 years ago. Like many of the resident artists in the area, Joe was simply looking for a creative outlet that would allow him to live and work in a region he calls “one of the most beautiful parts of the state.”
Joe isn’t the only one enamored with the allure of this quirky town, which touts everything from a hotel modeled after a World War II airplane hangar to an herb farm that creates farm-to-table dishes at its on-site restaurant. “People come here from all across Texas and all across the country,” Joe continues. “And we have clients and friends from Korea, Australia, the Netherlands, and beyond. They come to eat, breathe, and relax Texas-style over and over again. Fredericksburg is now known as the place to enjoy a rejuvenating weekend and some really amazing shopping. You never know what you’ll find as you explore the shops and restaurants on and off Main Street.”
Located just west of the Gillespie County Courthouse on West Main Street, The Texas Silver Rush serves as a showcase for Joe’s jewelry line. Although Joe offers some classic designs (such as my simple silver hoops), he is best known for his Texas Signature Collection, a dramatic line of statement pieces—necklaces, bracelets, and earrings—in sterling silver, brushed zinc, and copper complemented by pearls and pieces of turquoise, magnesite, and agates. “I collect stones, rocks, and found objects on my travels,” says Joe. “And I design my new pieces based on the materials that are available. When they’re gone, they’re gone.”
At about 600 square feet, Joe’s shop reminds me of a compact Western saloon, with large glass windows and dark wood panels that guide customers’ eyes to jewelry displayed on mannequin busts, an antique countertop covered in tooled leather, and in wood-and-glass cases. Texas-themed décor such as horseshoes and metal Lone Star motifs add more local flair, but the main focus is the jewelry. “I’m currently most passionate about our handcrafted necklaces,” says Joe. “Right now we’re having a lot of success with our chocolate pearls. I tell my customers that when they wear one of our chocolate-pearl necklaces, they’re guaranteed to get a compliment within 15 minutes. I haven’t been proven wrong yet.” And true to his congenial nature, Joe treats every customer the same way—from fans like Grammy Award-winning artist Terri Clark to tourists like me—with a warm Hill Country welcome and a smile.
I’m smiling, too, as I stroll down the street in my new earrings. I now have the perfect souvenir from my trip to Fredericksburg, and unlike my shofar from Israel and my yerba mate cup from Argentina, this souvenir will go with me as I venture out to new places.