Yeti plans flagship store on South Congress

Austin-based Yeti Coolers is finally shedding some light on one of South Austin’s worst-kept secrets: The popular brand’s first flagship store will debut on South Congress Avenue next year.

The Yeti Flagship project, which has been in the works for about a year, will open at South Congress Avenue and Barton Springs Road in the first half of 2017 as part of the South Central Waterfront Plan.

While Yeti is not sharing all of its plans for the space at 220 S. Congress Ave., the company says the store will also be a place for the community to gather for various events, such as concerts and film screenings.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the South Central Waterfront revitalization project, and to bring this historic building back to life,” said Corey Maynard, Yeti vice president for marketing. “The Yeti Flagship will be a destination for locals and tourists to celebrate our collective passion for the wild, and our roots here in Austin.”

The retail space is one of many projects for the fast-growing premium cooler and drinkware company.

In July, the company filed documents for an initial public offering of stock. And in March, Yeti announced plans for a new 175,000-square-foot headquarters in Southwest Austin. The campus at Lantana Ridge off Southwest Parkway, which will include two 87,500-square-foot buildings with amenities including an archery range, sports courts, barbecue pits, a rooftop terrace and a jogging trail, is to be completed by summer 2017. The company had more than 300 employees as of early this year.

Yeti Flagship would also be milestone for the South Central Waterfront revitalization project, a years-long effort to turn parking lots and older buildings along the south-central shore of Lady Bird Lake into a vibrant destination for locals and visitors.

The Austin City Council recently adopted the plan, which targets nearly 100 acres that runs from South First Street to the property occupied by Joe’s Crab Shack on Riverside Drive.

That plan includes converting a South Congress Avenue right-hand turn lane onto Barton Springs Road into a public green space that extends from the new Yeti Flagship, said city planner Alan Holt. The city could allow Yeti to build a sidewalk extension onto an existing sidewalk and make room for a rain garden, landscaping and public art, Holt said.

“The vision for the area… includes long-term plans to close the right-hand turn lane at Barton Springs Road and Congress Avenue and creating public green space with rain gardens, public art and other amenities,” said Holt, who is overseeing the South Central Waterfront Plan.

Yeti was founded in Austin in 2006 by brothers Roy and Ryan Seiders and quickly became a top brand in the premium cooler category. In recent years, it has expanded into premium drinkware, soft coolers and branded apparel. The company’s revenue has surged dramatically since its founding, jumping to $468.9 million in 2015, according to securities filings.

In 2012, Yeti sold a majority ownership stake to New York private equity firm Cortec Group for an undisclosed amount. The deal allowed the Seiders brothers to cash out some of their equity in the company. The Seiders remain shareholders in the company, according to securities filings.

The company has built a loyal fan base among sporting enthusiasts such as hunters and anglers who have embraced the brand for its range of products, including its heavily insulated, nearly indestructible coolers. And those fans are willing to pay for it: Yeti’s smaller coolers can start at $250 and can reach more than $1,000 depending on size and style.

Yeti is not yet saying which products it will showcase or sell at its flagship store.

“We’re excited to host concerts, screen films,” Maynard said, “and welcome the community to various events at the store once we open next year.”

Staff writer Shonda Novak and Gary Dinges contributed to this report

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