- By Michael Barnes American-Statesman Staff
A reader who was walking in West Campus asks: Where did the flagship Whole Earth Provision Co. go?
“It had always felt to me that that particular store was a time capsule of Austin countercultural history,” he writes about the shop a block off the Drag, “…since it began not as a high-end camping store but as a sort of survivalist-hippie retail outlet of Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog.”
Social media — including quick tips from spokesman Holland Jones — helped us find out. The store that stood at 2410 San Antonio St. for more than 40 years closed quietly last year. The retail group still operates thriving shops on North Lamar and South Lamar, as well as in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Southlake.
“We loved our time on 24th and San Antonio,” Jones says. “Lack of parking had been a big issue for many years, and the campus store was too small to contain our 47 years of growth. We’re proud to continue being a part of making Austin special!”
Reader Steve Hanson reminded us that it started out in 1970 in a second-floor space above revered Inner Sanctum Records in the Bluebonnet Building facing West 24th Street. By the time Micael Priest penned a gorgeous poster of the Bluebonnet Plaza, it had moved around the corner to its San Antonio Street location.
“I worked at Aunt Sally’s Little Used Bookshop briefly in 1970, when I first moved to Austin,” actor Janelle Buchanan writes. “It was at 24th and San Antonio, across from the back end of the old Varsity Theatre and upstairs, I think, was the original Whole Earth, run by Jack and Linda Jones. This is the building that used to house the much-loved, departed Les Amis. The original store was much smaller, of course, than the more recent iteration. It was a marvel and a revelation, like nothing this Arkansas country hippie girl had ever seen.”