🌚 And in non-eclipse news ...
Claire Malaby Photography
- 8 min read

🌚 And in non-eclipse news ...

Plus, UT's housing supply is about to get a little smaller.


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☀️ Heya, Austin.

We want this newsletter to help you feel like you know Austin a little bit better. That means covering the issues that'll affect you in City Hall. It also means spotlighting businesses and individuals who make Austin unique (and if we're lucky, a little weird, too). Today we're featuring a local shop that's trying to do things more intentionally.

Plus, how UT's housing supply is changing and a brief history lesson about Austin's first hydroelectricity dam.

Your sustainable neighborhood general store is expanding

Claire Malaby Photography

It’s easy to miss Parker + Scott’s sign on West Anderson Lane beneath the looming, easily recognizable Shipley Do-Nuts sign. It's a perhaps apt metaphor for their business — doing their own thing beneath the shadow of big franchises — but trust me, you don’t want to miss it. 

Owners Jess and Ian Haisley will readily admit that nearly everything in their store you could buy a cheaper version of in a big boxstore. But where those stores have prioritized bringing customers convenience, Jess and Ian have focused on community and quality. 

And it seems to be working. Earlier this month they launched a second location, the Snack Shop, next to the Sign Bar on FM 969.

What’s the Snack Shop? The small shop located in a trailer doesn’t just sell a broad offering of snacks. You can also expect to see some of the household and novelty items at Parker + Scott’s original shop, but food-themed.

So what makes Parker + Scott unique? 

In short, their attention to detail and commitment to community building

Let’s talk attention to details: 

Their store truly is a general store offering a little bit of everything, but it’s not random. Everything falls into two categories: things you can use at home and unique gifts. And everything has been purchased with three priorities in mind. 

  • Locally made: There are 150 Texas-based brands on their shelves. They’ll look elsewhere if they have to for a responsibly made product, but their first priority is keeping it close to home. 
  • Women-owned: They feature 225 women-owned brands.
  • Better-for-you products: Their store isn’t entirely plastic free, but they are constantly looking for less wasteful products with better ingredients. So much so, that they’ve worked with several brands to help them remove single-use plastic packaging in their products. And for that plastic you just can’t avoid, they’ve partnered with Ridwell to provide a more responsible disposal option. 

“We wanted to make it easy for people to not have to think about it,” said Ian. “We did all the research for you. We checked out the brands. We made sure that these ingredients are safe.”

And speaking of waste, they’re one of the few refill stores currently in Austin. Luxe Refill, another home goods and apothecary store focused on a refill business model, closed last fall after nearly two years in a brick-and-mortar location.

Claire Malaby Photography

Zooming out: Refill stores saw a small boom during the pandemic, said Jaime Durheim, founder of the Refillery Collective. In the years since, though, the numbers have been dropping, with half dozen or more closing each quarter last year. However, she noted there seems to be a resurgence beginning again this year. 

By the numbers: According to the Refillery Collective directory, there are about 500 refilleries in the U.S. right now with 17 of those located in Austin. Find one near you here

“Running a small business is really hard no matter what. But doing something that is not mainstream is even harder, because you’re trying to get people to change habits,” said Durheim. “A lot of it comes down to education and community building, which Parker + Scott is so good at.” 

About that community building: 

Events have always been a part of the Haisley’s model for Parker + Scott. Birthday bashes, story hour for kids, an Earth Day neighborhood cleanup and now, leaning into their snack theme, the Super Secret Social Club for Snackers.

Social Club for Snackers: The ticketed event ($45) will welcome the first 50 people to sign up to come try the snack offerings of five local brands featured on Parker + Scott’s shelves. But don’t expect a traditional tasting. Expect the makers to experiment with their ingredients, showing off how the snacks can be used in another recipe or made into something new entirely. You'll also get $50 in store credit to bring home some of your favorite snacks. The inaugural meeting is April 23. 

But their focus on community goes beyond just events. 

They've been intentional about crafting relationships with the makers on their shelves and about making a space where everyone can be comfortable, especially parents with young kids. A number of areas in the store are dedicated to allowing kids to play, including a paper coloring wall. (Each day the paper gets torn off and reset. The colored paper then gets used in any orders the store ships.)

“We wanted the store to feel like not just something that’s in the community but is part of a community," said Ian. "And that takes work. That’s not just something that upon opening your doors happens."

Are there any other local stores doing things a little bit differently you think we should write about? Let us know by replying to this email or emailing me at cat.delaura@austindaily.com.

— Cat DeLaura, Reporter

Temperature: 81 | Sun:  Behind the moon | What to Expect: Afternoon thunderstorms

Will today’s anticipated event bring about a total eclipse of the (broken) heart? Thick cloud cover in the morning may break just in time for the total solar eclipse at 1:30 p.m.  It won’t be sunny, but maybe we’ll see the event through a filter of middle- to high-level clouds.

Mary’s Tip: If the clouds ruin your view of the eclipse, turn around that negative attitude with this dad joke: How does the sun cut its hair? Eclipse it.

UT housing supply is fixin' to get smaller

Off-campus housing at UT is about to get even harder to find — a nine-story apartment complex might get turned into a hotel.

The complex known as The G — at 1715 Guadalupe St., about a block south of the UT campus — will be renovated into a tru by Hilton hotel starting in August, with an estimated cost of $29 million, according to plans submitted to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. The renovations are expected to be completed by December 2026.

The building is one of a few hotels between the Texas Capitol and the university, including a Hilton Garden Inn and a Hampton Inn & Suites on Lavaca Street a block away.

The owner is listed in the TDLR plans as Harco Hospitality, based in Miramar Beach, Florida. The 142,000-square-foot complex was built in 2014, according to the Travis County Appraisal District. 

Sorry, y'all, but this is bad news if you're a UT student. With rental costs in Austin notoriously high, especially in the downtown area, a group of students recently formed a tenants’ union to help each other find affordable, reliable housing near campus, according to KUT.

And the housing crisis continues ...

— Richard Webner, Contributing Reporter

Austin Graveyard: The Austin Dam

Oh, you thought we only mourn our fave restaurants, bars and venues that have joined the city’s cemetery of the dearly departed?

Think again, readers. Today, we’re visiting the grave of Austin’s first hydroelectricity dam. Gather round …

The 60-foot-high thing was finished in 1893, when there were at least 14,575 people living in the city. The idea was to use the water to power electric generators, which would prompt more people to move here and turn the city into The Place To Be. 

Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

We have the dam to thank for lighting the moon towers that were erected in 1895 and for lighting Austin at a time when most U.S. cities didn’t have electricity. Austin, the Trendsetter.

But then 1900 rolled around, and a bunch of rainstorms destroyed the dam and flooded the city, killing at least 50 people. Austin was without power for months.

They gave it another try with a rebuild in the same place in 1912, but storms in 1915 smashed it down again. The city got it right in 1940, though, with the Tom Miller Dam, which exists today in the same place where the first two were.

Where the first two destroyed dams were built and where present-day Tom Miller Dam stands.

So what did the dam teach us?

That Texas is tough but not always tougher than Mother Nature, or at least it wasn’t around the turn of the 20th century.

The dam is also partly why modern-day Austin has one of the only city-owned power utilities in the U.S. The folks that wanted to build it opted to form a public utility company so it’d be easier to borrow money for the project. That utility was eventually split into two groups: Austin Energy and Austin Water.

The city hung up its hydroelectricity spurs, though. Austin Energy collects power from wind, solar, coal and other methods.

But to think, back then, that a dam powered a whole city …

🎢 Good Times Were Had

Today's clue is for 31 Across: What the answer is, always, to "Wanna go get margs at De Nada?"

Happy eclipse day

This is a once-in-a-lifetime day and we want to hear how it affected you.

Send us a story, poem or highlight from the eclipse today for a chance to be featured in a future newsletter. The only requirement is to keep it to 100 words or less. Feel free to share any photos you took as well.

Were so glad you found us. Find our bios and contact info here, or reach out at hello@austindaily.com. Behind todays send: Katie Canales, Cat DeLaura, Mary Wasson and Richard Webner.