The Texas Hill Country never appealed to me as a fun destination option. When I signed up for a Texas Press revenue training session at the Hangar Hotel in Fredericksburg a few weeks ago, our bookkeeper, Lori, told me that I was going to love it there. Although I argued with her that tourist traps were not my thing, I have to admit now that she was right.
After our training session was over on Friday, I met my husband, Will, at the Jellystone RV park just outside of town. He’s from Johnson City, only a few miles up the road, so when he asked me what I wanted to see and do while up there, I urged him to be my tour guide. I hadn’t researched the area and honestly wanted a local’s take on the place.
“Let’s go to breakfast,” he suggested Saturday morning. I’m never one to turn down a good meal and we quickly found ourselves at Andy’s. From the moment we walked in, I felt like I was home. No one treated me like a tourist, they treated me like family. Not only did they wait on me hand and foot, but they refilled my orange juice glass twice and sent me with one to go. I warned Will that this is my new favorite breakfast hangout … no matter it’s three hours from home.
With full bellies, we headed to St. Mary’s Catholic Church. I have heard that the same man who designed our beloved St. Michael’s in Weimar also had a hand in this church. The similarities were obvious as soon as I walked in the door. It’s kind of like a ornately painted version of our home church. The organist was practicing, and I was praying. It was easy to feel comfortable in Fredericksburg. It was like a touristy Weimar, all German and homey.
We walked around downtown while a light rain fell. None of the boutique shops were open, but a store called Dooley’s was.
“I haven’t been in here since I was a kid,” Will said. Judging from the offerings and the décor, I could easily tell that not much had changed from that era either. We quickly found ourselves in the toy department, playing with marbles, jacks, tinker toys, and reading Little Golden Books. We left with a metal toy top, a few packs of candy cigarettes, several pieces of five cent bubble gum, and a kazoo. The cashier wrapped our trinkets in paper and tape to protect them. I can’t remember the last time someone cared that much about a few trinkets that cost less than two bucks.
“You’ve got to go to Luckenbach and have a beer,” Will said. Everything I had heard of this place was that it was an old western dance hall in the middle of nowhere and there was really nothing to see, but I played along, nonetheless.
We wandered over to a little shop called Snail Creek and a kind lady named Cassey, who humbly was more than reluctant to share her name, helped me find my first palm leaf hat. Now I’m not a fan of cowboy hats or anything western for that matter; but this one fedora-looking hat, in what I would later learn is creased gambler-style, caught my eye. Although they didn’t have my size, Cassey didn’t hesitate to wet and shape a new hat just for me.
“Everbody’s somebody in Luckenbach,” they say.
I was quickly beginning to realize that it was the people themselves that were making me feel at home in the Hill Country and creating a destination I couldn’t wait to get back to.
The customer service I experienced in Fredericksburg and Luckenbach are unparalleled to any location I have visited before. The very best revenue training I could have walked away with this weekend wasn’t from any seminar I sat in on Friday, but from the way I was treated in this small, German-Texas area. If you want to be successful in business, you have to find that connection with the people who walk in your door and make them feel at home while creating an individualized product they love. I hope we do that here at The Citizen, too.
And, by the way, I really love my new hat.
A piece of magic is a hat. ~Martha Silter
Michelle Banse Stokes is the Publisher of the Colorado County Citizen and lives in Weimar. Connect with Michelle on social media: fb.com/MichelleBanseStokes