- By Gary Dinges American-Statesman Staff
After 18 months of construction – much of it done in stealth mode in a bid to keep word from spreading – Austin-based Yeti is ready to officially take the wraps off its new flagship store on South Congress Avenue.
The maker of high-end coolers and travel mugs showed off the store – and its accompanying indoor-outdoor bar – during a sneak preview Thursday night. The venue will open to the public on Feb. 23.
Hours will be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, the company said.
Spanning more than 6,000 square feet just south of downtown Austin, the store — housed on the first floor of a historical building at 220 S. Congress Ave. — features a stage where musical acts can perform, as well as a number of eye-catching showpieces meant to help cement Yeti’s image as a go-to for a variety of outdoors enthusiasts: a 750-pound stuffed bear, a grill that once belonged to Franklin Barbecue founder Aaron Franklin, a fishing skiff and the bed from a retro pickup.
There are also plenty of Yeti products for sale, of course. At a counter near the rear of the store, consumers can customize their products and get repairs.
“Yeti’s flagship is not a typical retail store,” said Tony Kaplan, Yeti’s director of consumer experience. “It is meant to inspire people to go out and enjoy the wild through experiential installations within the space.”
Austin marketing agency McGarrah Jessee frequently works with Yeti and played a big part in helping to design the first-of-its-kind store, including a mural of the Texas flag behind the bar that’s made out of 12,000-plus caps from beer bottles.
“We realize no one is going to be coming in here every day to buy a cooler,” McGarrah Jessee’s Lucas Lane said during a tour Thursday. “We wanted this to be a cool place where people who are outdoor fans – and people who aren’t – could just hang out.”
The Yeti flagship store takes the ground floor of what had been a long-vacant three-story building at Barton Springs Road and South Congress Avenue. A former warehouse, it dates back to the 1930s, according to its owner, Austin-based Cielo Property Group.
Cielo has undertaken a number of exterior and interior renovations in recent years in order to attract new tenants. Some office space is still available in the building.
Records filed with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation indicate Yeti’s portion of the project cost about $1.5 million.