Visiting Friends & Neighbors is just like hanging out at the home of your coolest, best-traveled friend–except that all her stuff is for sale. East Austin’s newest concept store is co-owned by Jade Place-Mathews, her husband Greg Mathews, and buyer Jill Bradshaw–formerly of I Heart, a boutique in New York City’s Nolita. The three, who met through mutual friends, decided to become business partners when Jade learned that Bradshaw was moving back to her college stomping grounds in Austin. The Mathews had spent years in the restaurant business–they own the stylist East Austin cafe, Hillside Farmacy–and the three decided to collaborate on a shop.
But not just any shop. Housed in a funky old bungalow, Friends & Neighbors is a boutique-meets-café-and-hangout-destination, a modern gathering place for the post-mall consumer. Here you can buy a glittery pair of vintage jelly sandals, sip a Happy Hour glass of rosé, and poke through the medicine cabinet for the best new skincare products.
Photography by Leigh Patterson.
Above: The house’s interior is basically unaltered, and the store is set up in the rooms, each with different types of merchandise.
Above: The former living room and dining room display a mix of fashion accessories, housewares, and clothing.
Above: Bradshaw has stocked an assortment of new and vintage fashions, offering a range of aesthetics and price points.
Above: Traditional ceramics sit next to holographic accessories.
Above: It won’t come as a surprise that the kitchen functions as a café.
Above: Visitors can order espressos and snacks (like Early Bird Granola) and leaf through the magazine collection.
Above: Friends & Neighbors’ café is run by Mercedes Singleton, who used to manage Brooklyn’s famous butcher shop, Marlow and Daughters. It serves wine, beer, teas, and Stumptown coffee.
Above: The Mathews and Bradshaw kept the kitchen’s vintage fixtures and tile in place. But the cupboards are now stocked with hard-to-find grocery items, like specialty sea salts and heirloom pastas.
Above: An assortment of food products: Seattle’s Boat Street Pickles ($12), Portland’s Smith Tea ($12), and Brooklyn’s Sweet Deliverance jams and chutneys ($10), in flavors like Strawberry Chamomile Honey and Smoke Tomato Chili.
Above: Place-Mathews selects a teapot from the shop’s growing collection. “My grandfather was always hunting for the perfect teapot,” she says, “and I guess that rubbed off on me. At Friends & Neighbors, it started with a beautiful vintage aqua teapot big enough for five people. To me, it expressed our idea of the shop as a place to hang out with friends, sharing tea, snacks, and stories.”
Above: The airy back bedroom has a curtained-off changing area and an armoire full of intimates and loungewear.
Above: A triangle cut-out peeking into the bathroom was one of the few architectural changes made. The shop’s furniture and storage units all came with the house.
Above: Magazines for sale next to tubes of Place-Mathews’ coveted Pawpaw Ointment. “It’s made near where I grew up, in Australia,” she says. “I use it as lip balm, on bug bites, for dry skin…it’s the best.”
Above: Shelves in the hall closet display vintage linens and textiles.
Above: Austin artist Ben Nuhn has pitched a teepee in the Friends & Neighbors backyard. Plans are afoot to hold weekly tarot card readings inside, but for now, “Our friends’ children are using it for a castle,” Place-Mathews says.
Above: The Mathews with Lupe the dog. “Really, this space came together because we wanted a place to hang out with friends,” the couple says. “Then it evolved into so much more.” Plans include converting a storage shed into a community space for classes, music events, and film screenings. For more details, go to Friends & Neighbors.
Vanessa Traina’s Soho shop, The Apartment, resembles a glam version of Friends & Neighbors. For more Austin shops, restaurants, and hotels, visit our Austin City Guide. And read all about Austin’s uber-stylish Hotel Saint Cecilia in Gardenista.
Below: Location of Friends & Neighbors at 2614 E. Cesar Chavez St., in Austin, Texas: