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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Must See Place Report: San Antonio Shoe Factory and General Store

Where else can you go and get a Coke for a dime, a bag of fresh popcorn for a nickel, see a bunch of antique automobiles and watch a lady make a pair of shoes right before your eyes? Right here in San Antonio of course.

Another in my series of places you should see even if you live here is the San Antonio Shoe Factory and General Store located at 101 New Laredo Highway. This place is a great outing for people who have little kids. Not so you can let them run like wild banshees around the place, but because the price of admission is FREE, and the cost to feed your little hellions isn't much more.

When you first arrive at SAS, you see what looks like an old movie set that might have fit in an episode of The Waltons, contrasted against the tire shops and furniture stores of San Antonio's South Side. Before you get in, you'll appreciate some well maintained older cars and the long covered walk reminiscent of the loading platform of the old stage coach or maybe a train station.

From the outside, you can see the nicely restored signage and a a comfortable front porch where customers sit and mostly, wait for their wives to finish shopping. Yes, not everyone who visits SAS is there for the popcorn and cookies, a good number of visitors are there for the shoes.

In case you didn't know, SAS is famous for their comfortable designs and you can see them on fashion runways in communities for the aged, everywhere. Though I do have to confess to owning several pairs of the more fashionable penny loafers, which are very comfortable.

When you get inside the store, the first thing that greets you is the kitchen area complete with old fashioned stoves, refrigerated cases and friendly ladies ready to serve up a soda from the new fountain, a hot cookie or some fresh popcorn.

Up until just recently, they used to serve Cokes in the small bottles for a dime. Now you get your choice of Coke or Diet-Coke in a fountain cup for the same price. If you'd rather skip the soda, enjoy a cup of really good coffee for just a nickel. Don't let your Starbuck's Barrista know - he may just shit himself!

Inside the store, there are several older cars that members of the staff will be happy to take your picture while you sit in them. Or you can pose with a big Brahma Bull standing down in one of the aisles.

I can't overstate what a great deal this is for the aunt or uncle who finds the need to entertain the little beasts that your sis dropped off so she could go to the mall. The cost is less than the price of gas and the kids will learn how to make shoes from scratch.
Seriously, I say put the little rug rats to work and call it a day.

My mother-in-law used to take my kids and the their cousins on a SAS field trip several times during the summer when she would watch them, and the kids loved it. They would each come home with their own bag of selected old fashioned candy, perhaps a set of free shoelaces, and quite often, a stomach ache.

Look, don't take my word for it; you owe it to yourself to take the short drive, stop in and check it out. And the next time your family comes to visit San Antonio and they have had enough of Sea World, Fiesta Texas, the River Walk, the Missions and the hundreds of other places to go, take them to a genuine inexpensive treat, and get yourself some nice loafers.

*And no, I don't get paid for this, I really do like the place.

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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