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Rooms to Grow at Hill Country Shops in Kingsland

Robin Tippens paints amazing art on repurposed items such as old wood. She displayed much of her work in a Galveston gallery, but the Buchanan Dam resident tired of making trips to the coast and opened a shop in Kingsland after ‘repurposing’ a bevy of old buildings at the base of Lookout Mountain on RR 1431 into Hill Country Shops. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Robin and James Tippens had driven past the rough buildings just below Lookout Mountain east of Kingsland quite often. It was a ramshackle group of structures that had seen better days.

But Robin, who repurposes discarded objects into gallery-worthy art, saw something else: potential.

She and James made a deal with the property owner in 2018 then rolled up their sleeves and went to work. By October, the couple had turned the hodgepodge of buildings into an eclectic set of rooms they named Hill Country Shops. Each can house work from an artisan or merchandise from a small business.

Throwing the doors open in late October, right after the devastating Highland Lakes flood, wasn’t the best of timing, but Robin didn’t want to put it off.

It was challenging, but the couple is committed to the business, Kingsland, and the rest of the Highland Lakes.

“I wanted something that was different, unique,” Robin said. “Something special for this area.”

Now, Robin and James are gearing up for a busy spring. They’re still working to attract vendors and customers to the shops. They also hold market days the second weekend of the month, which bring in a number of other vendors.

Hill Country Shops is located at 12315 RR 1431 in Kingsland. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

The individualized spots at Hill Country Shops caught the attention of Nellie and Jesse Garza, owners of Dreams Come True, an antique and collectibles business. In October, they began selling out of one of the smaller buildings. Within a few months, however, they had outgrown it and are moving into a larger building at Hill Country Shops.

The Garzas do business on Saturdays and Sundays because they still work other jobs during the week, but, with retirement in sight, they plan to open their shop more days and hours.

As they go through their room filled with collectibles, antiques, and memorabilia, the Garzas see a lot of memories — not theirs but of the people who walk through the shop’s door.

“A lot of people, when they walk in, they’ll see something and say, ‘My grandma has this,’” Jesse said. “It’s memories. That’s what we have here.”

Nellie nodded.

“That’s what’s special about our shop and what Robin is creating here,” she said. “Each shop, business will be unique and different. We see Robin’s vision, and we hope others will see it as well.”

Robin definitely has a vision, both for Hill Country Shops and her art. When Robin spies an old door, a weathered window pane, a second-hand dresser, or a few slates of unused privacy fence, she sees a canvas. Not only does she create something new on those objects, she incorporates them into her work.

Everything in her own shop, God’s Gifts, she made or repurposed by hand. Robin often paints herons or other shorebirds on pieces of weathered wood, quality work that would be hung in a Galveston art gallery. Many sold as quickly as they were placed on a wall.

Unique, kind of like Kingsland itself, is how you would describe Hill Country Shops, 12315 RR 1431. The shops are open at various hours, depending on each owner. Robin’s shop is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, while the Garzas’ place is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The next artisan market is Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 9-10.

Check out Hill Country Shops’ Facebook page (@hillcountryshopsinkingsland) for updates and more information.

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