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Texas | Preservation

San Angelo’s
(Semi-) Old

San Angelo, Texas

Article & photos by Audrey A. Herbrich

Eggemeyer’s General Store, San Angelo, Texas
Eggemeyer’s General Store in San Angelo

Today, the term “general store” has become a bit of an anomaly. A true one-stop-shop seems not to exist.

But, as Texans know, the state itself is full of should-be anomalies. Here, cowboys still ride, coyotes still roam, and the Wild West mentality is, in many ways, still in full swing.

There are places around the state, then, where general stores — “general” in every sense of the word — still exist. Case in point . . . Eggemeyer’s.

Travel east on Concho Street, the oldest street in San Angelo, to step back in history and experience a general store reincarnation. Stop when you see a star imprinted red brick sidewalk accompanied by a Butter Krust signage backed bench. A marquee pig wearing a chef’s hat guards the entrance and announces, “Hams, Turkeys: Order Now.” The heavy double doors welcome visitors to an era of days long ago.

Eggemeyer’s General Store front, San Angelo, Texas
Store front

Outside, the pretty façade is like many others in the historic downtown area. But its freshness is something that some of its neighbors lack. Inside and out, the building and its furnishings are a testament to Texas’s past, as each portion of the store and each piece of furniture has its own personal history. The store itself, then, is as charming as its contents.

Eggemeyer’s General Store covers two fronts, by sidewalk standards. The largest part of the store occupies what was an old Buick dealership, one of the first in Texas (built in 1911). The front portion of the store was a showroom, and the back portion was a repair shop. A Plymouth dealership occupied the building from 1927 to 1935, when Angelo Spring and Axle purchased the property. As the name suggests, their service was repairing the only two parts of a vehicle which were prone to replacement at the time. The business was maintained, changing later to Angelo Automotive, until 1992 when husband and wife duo Bobby and Karen Eggemeyer purchased the property. Their goal was to move their specialty gift and homemade craft store, which was situated in the old Miles train depot on their rural property outside San Angelo, to town. Gas prices were rising, and, with competition from several franchised stores located in town, customers were reluctant to drive outside the city limits to shop.

Bobby and Karen had always been interested in the idea of a general store, but not necessarily their own. As a hobby, they began collecting general store furniture and fixtures long before they ever dreamed of owning one. Frequenting auctions and closing sales, the couple managed to acquire an impressively eclectic collection of pieces.

They stored many of the pieces and used some in their first store. But larger thoughts arose. “When you spend all day in a tractor, you can think of a million things,” said Bobby, a farmer by trade. Slowly, those thoughts birthed into the current Eggemeyer’s General Store.

When Bobby and Karen made the decision to move the store to town in 1988, the building they originally set-up shop in is the current J. Wilde’s boutique across the street. Then, the store's present location became available for sale, and, after the Eggemeyer's decided on a major renovation, the work began.

Eggemeyer’s General Store interior, San Angelo, Texas
Eggemeyer’s General Store interior

The building restoration project took approximately one year. Bobby, Karen, and other family members had done construction and remodeling projects before; this, then, became a labor of love for the Eggemeyers. Their son, Eric, designed the exterior awning of the building, which he fashioned after one the couple liked in Fredericksburg. Inside, the wall of an existing building on the west side was used, which dates to around 1880. For the remaining walls, matching red bricks were uncovered by chipping away at heavy plaster then etching each out by hand to reveal their color and shape. Four walkway arches were cut in the brick to connect the two buildings. A garage door that allowed for vehicular access via Oakes Street during the building’s automotive days was transformed into a large fireplace. The original pressed tin ceiling received a fresh coat of paint. A banister, recovered from the Holcombe-Blanton printing shop, framed the indoor balcony. Lights salvaged from the old San Angelo Montgomery Ward illuminate the new wood floors. The outdoor bricks were recycled from M.L. Leddy’s. Newly planted live oaks and a freshly laid patio in the back of the store, facing the Concho River, completed the Eggemeyer’s vision.

The store’s display cases, counters, and cabinets are a testament to Texas’ retail past. Bobby restored the furniture and fixtures they had collected from various drugstores and general stores in Austin, Wall, and Gruene to house their wares. A group of impressively tall glass curio-type display cabinets, bought from San Angelo’s Weak’s Drugstore, line the east wall. Other pieces are peppered throughout the store.

Eggemeyer’s General Store and owners, San Angelo, Texas
The Eggemeyers

Photo by Audrey A. Herbrich, April 2005

Appropriately, much of the store’s merchandise is veiled in a nostalgic cloak. Model airplanes hang decoratively from the ceiling. A train runs on suspended track above the middle of the store. A potbellied stove sits in the corner. A skylight helps showcase everything from jellybeans to jewelry, cards to candles, ornaments to oven mitts. A specialty kitchen section houses gadgets, gourmet coffee beans, jams, jellies, spreads and more. Customers can still purchase a five-cent cup of coffee. Just help yourself and leave the nickel in a paper cup next to the counter.

The store is more “general” than “retail” according to the owners. With its own kitchen to make homemade goodies, a coffee counter, and section of candy jars, it is easy to see why. Customers, an equal blend of locals and tourists, love the old-time atmosphere.

And Bobby and Karen love it too.

“This didn’t really start out as a dream of ours,” said Karen. “But now we have everything we want.”

Eggemeyer’s is located at 35 East Concho. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday 10:00 – 5:30. Soon, many items will be available online at www.eggemeyers.com.

© Audrey A. Herbrich

See San Angelo, Texas

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