Daycations — Wonder & Whimsy Awaits
This is the first in a series of articles about fun summer day trip ideas that are near and dear to our Woodlander hearts.
Head north on 1-45 for about 40 minutes and you’ll find yourself at the 15,000 square foot Annette’s Touch of Class in New Waverly, Texas. Yes, the bizarre building with the car and giant striped straw sticking out of it! These are your warning symbols that a wonderful world of whimsy awaits you.
Annette’s houses an old-fashioned soda fountain bar and cafe, clothing, jewelry and shoe store mixed with a specialty home décor and gift item boutique in one of the most eclectic looking time-machine-like retail spaces you’re likely to ever see again. Oh, there’s also a barn filled with quirky antiques and a large tent in which to shop for all kinds of flea market finds.
This divalicious store’s decor stands second only to amazing staff who work there. Manager Christa, will passionately make her savory and sweet recommendations to you as if she was your favorite auntie (the chicken salad and banana split are top crowd pleasers). Owner Annette herself will fashion style you—making you feel glamorous and clever with a simple toss of a gypsy style embroidered scarf over your shoulder and a pair of cat-eyed sunglasses dipped low on your nose.
Check out the unique car door dressing rooms by the shoe area which offers a crushed velvet sofa and pool table. Don’t miss the giant neon ice cream cone or the Bob’s Big Boy statue! Or the vintage mannequin displays, which seen from certain angles, seem to follow you throughout the store!
Wait…is that a carousel piece hanging over the sales register area? Why, yes, yet it is! Is that pair of hot fudge sundae high heels actually for sale? You betcha! Do I spy camoflauge pants trimmed in multi-color fringe? Yes! Fedora hats? A vase of peacock feathers? A coin purse that says “Taco Money” on it? Yes! Yes! Yes!
Look, a boat suspended from rafters with more of those yesteryear mannequins! Are they staring at me? Quickly, I avert my gaze and walk to the front window to find comfort. But wait! What do my eyes see? Peace and tranquility? No, instead I am peering at a giant plaster white shark replica, his teethed-mouth agape, which gives me a fun shiver!
How exactly did this Willy Wonka Whoopie Pie compound come to be? Well, the story behind Annette’s is as rich as the decadent whipped cream and multi-colored sprinkled milkshakes they serve.
In 2002, Annette was struggling in her relationship with her teenage daughter Megan. They barely spoke, except when Megan wanted money so she could buy things. Interestingly, Annette saw this as an opportunity to reconnect with Megan. She took a chance and bought jewelry inventory and asked Megan if she’d like to help her sell the jewelry at upcoming local fairs and split the profits. Enthusiastically, Megan said “yes” and, suddenly, this mother/daughter duo found themselves spending weekends together on road trips, staying up late at night and putting in long days together working on their new business. This forced new time together allowed Annette and Megan to communicate in a new way with their shared goal of making a profit and they began to get along again. Around this same time, Annette was approached to design a western line for a custom hand-painted shoe manufacturing company overseas. Annette and Megan named their company Gina G-Girls and soon shipped these shoes to retailers all across the United States. Later, they switched to creating unique tees with western, travel and glamping designs. They re-named their company Gina (an ode to an old nickname Megan had for her mother when she was a young girl) and the rest is history.
Fifteen years later, Annette and Megan have grown their business into a large clothing brand carried in boutiques and major retail stores across America. Wanting a “mothership” store, they built Annette’s Touch of Class in New Waverly, where they are from and still live. Many of Annette and Megan’s family members and friends work at the store, which is what, no doubt, contributes to the warm and kooky Southern hospitality vibe pulsating through the veins of this jovial junk joint.
Come to shop, but stay for the food…or come for the food, but stay to shop. Any way you slice it, Annette’s is a funky piece of nostalgic heaven just a short drive from The Woodlands—and definitely worth the trip!