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Austin Icon | The Garden Room

If these walls could talk - how a charming Southern gal has done much more than just dress generations of Texas women.

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The gaggle of well-dressed, perfectly-coifed ladies who breezed in to The Garden Room today were there to shop, but they also had a lot of catching up to do with the shop’s vivacious owner Patty Hoffpauir…something that everyone who passes through the doors of the light-filled shop loves to do. “There have been a lot of stories, secrets, laughs, and even tears shared on those sofas over there,” she says, motioning to the sitting area that has become the town square of the shop.

Hoffpauir bought the Garden Room in 1980 when it was a small, 900-square-foot gift shop. Then, she returned to her fashion roots (Hoffpauir was a textiles major and worked as a buyer at Dallas’ Sanger-Harris), and the Garden Room became exclusively a clothing and accessory boutique. The new business model worked, and she expanded her space to over 3,300 square feet. Since then, she has successfully dressed women and their mothers, and now their daughters. Generations of women have found everything from the perfect mother-of-the-bride frock to game-day ensembles. How has she made it through three economic downturns in a highly competitive business? “You have to know your customer and you have to listen to their feedback. You have to remember what your customer is doing and where they are going on a daily basis,” she says. “We really love our customers and feel their joys and sorrows. We’ve grown up with them and seen their children have children.”

Giving back to community through involvement with local organizations like Ballet Austin, the Austin Symphony, and Hospice Austin have always been a priority in her life. "I want my involvement in the community to be a constant reminder that I have been blessed in many ways by Austin both personally and professionally," she says. "I use The Garden Room as an instrument to give back." She still unlocks the doors of the Garden Room with the same excitement and curiosity for who might walk in the store, and what the day will bring that she did when she opened 33 years ago. No matter what, she has always advised her clients with what she deems the most important piece of fashion advice—“Be comfortable. If you aren’t comfortable in what you have on, whether it’s a ball gown or a pair of jeans, it shows. Pick clothes with personality, make a statement, and always suit yourself.”

Credits

Photography by Annie Ray

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