What started out as a headache has turned into a money-making machine for a South Austin entrepreneur.
John Borek says he was just trying to have a little fun when he placed a few animatronic dinosaurs outside his home one Halloween. His neighbors, though, weren’t having it, so he moved them to a car wash he already owned.
“The neighborhood association threatened to sue me,” he said. “I wanted the car wash to be fun and different from others. The solution was obvious, and that’s how Jurassic Car Wash was born.”
Today, customers who stop by the dino-themed car wash at 4809 S. Congress Ave. will find five animatronic dinosaurs, including a Pterodactyl on the roof and a Tyrannosaurus Rex that squirts water at the entrance to the automatic car wash tunnel. The facility, which has four bays and is open 24 hours, also has two dinosaurs equipped with seats out front so customers can snap the obligatory selfie.
Borek has expanded the business to include a six-cycle pet wash that has, among other features, a pet-treat dispenser and a built-in radio and speakers that allows visitors to select and play their own music.
Customers, he says, love the Austin-centric business.
“Some laugh, and others just smile,” Borek said. “It’s a welcome difference from my past business (a body shop). Nobody is happy when their car is wrecked.”
Yet another South Congress Avenue retailer is clearing out to make way for new development.
This time, it’s Off the Wall. The antiques store at 1704 S. Congress Ave. plans to close next month, owners Ellen Johnson and Gail Armstrong said.
Off the Wall got its start in 1979 as a business focused on glass etching and woodworking. It was initially located in the Zilker neighborhood before relocating to South Congress in 1993.
“We have had so much fun and met so many wonderful people from all over the world,” Johnson and Armstrong said in a written statement. “We have been blessed with repeat customers from the neighborhood, the state, the continent and the entire planet. It is going to be very hard to not have that interaction with folks, but we have been open 363 days a week for a very long time and feel it is time to do some of the things we have put off for years.”
Off the Wall plans to still have an online presence at offthewallaustin.com after the storefront closes. Occasional pop-up shops are possible, too.
Grocer lends a hand
Wheatsville Food Co-op says it’s donated more than $80,000 to Austin-area charities in 2016.
Each year, the retailer’s Community Action program helps out 10 non-profits, offering cash, children’s books, groceries and toiletries. The latest round of recipients includes People’s Community Clinic, Safeplace, Urban Roots, Austin Pets Alive, Hospice Austin, American Honey Bee Protection Agency, Workers Defense Fund, Meals on Wheels Central Texas, Sustainable Food Center and Central Texas Food Bank.
“We are so proud to give back to the community that supports Wheatsville, and truly humbled by our owners, shoppers and staff who helped us far exceed our $1,000 donation for every partner in 2016,” Wheatsville chief executive grocer Dan Gillotte. “Wheatsville’s Community Action program is an important part of the company’s identity as it helps us work towards our mission to create a self-reliant, self-empowering community of people who promote cooperation, justice and non-exploitation.”
Wheatsville has two Austin locations: 3101 Guadalupe St. near the University of Texas campus and 4001 S. Lamar Blvd. in South Austin.
The express lane …
Randalls shoppers can now use their Remarkable Card gas points to save up to 20 cents per gallon at participating Chevron and Texaco stations in Central Texas. The grocer still offers discounts of up to $1 per gallon at Randalls-branded fuel stations. … Golfsmith will close one of its two Austin stores. The store at 11000 Middle Fiskville Road in North Austin is expected to shut its doors for good by year’s end. … The OfficeMax store at 10001 Research Blvd. in the Arboretum area has closed. It’s one of several that have been closed in Central Texas since Office Depot and OfficeMax merged. … Spence Diamonds has opened its first Austin location at The Domain, 11401 Century Oaks Terrace. … Online eyewear retailer Warby Parker is rolling out a network of brick-and-mortar stores – and Austin has two of them. The first opened in late August this year at 1317 S. Congress Ave. Now a second one is up and running at Domain Northside, 11700 Domain Blvd. in North Austin.