We're gearing up for 2013!
We'll be opening up for Spring Break March 8-17th!
The Largest Selection of T-shirts on the Frio River
Family owned and operated since 1985
"Frio's Dry Fifty overflows with gifts, antiques, and lots of T-shirts" Courtesy : Hill Country Sun
8.5 Essential Hill Country Frio River Experiences
By ALLAN C. KIMBALL
21 years, Frio's Dry Fifty in Concan has been the place to go for Frio River Visitors looking for gifts and souvenirs. The shop
- started by granddaughters of Tom and Vida Neal who began the legendary Neal's Lodge - has grown each summer until now the,• unassuming
building is overflowing with all sorts of great stuff. "We lived in Uvalde then and spent our weekends and all summer here having a great
time, running around shirtless and shoeless. Every summer from junior high on we worked at Neal's," co-owner Gayle Korbell says. "When
we grew up, we were just looking for something else to do here." Gayle owns the shop with sister Jody Farr. They get help from
sister Janeal Prickett, and daughters .Emily and Danna Korbell. "We feel fortunate that our grandparents settled here," Jody says. "It's
a wonderful heritage." .
In 1985, after Neal's sold out of the family, the sisters decided they could open their own little summer place
across the road from the lodge. They got old wood from their father's barn and built the first small building with a tin roof from material
their father had been saving. "He gave us the material and Jody ramrodded the construction and she hand painted
the sign that's still here," Gayle says.
first summer the temperature was hot and business was slow, but the sisters returned and, suddenly, the T-shirts they designed and silk-screened
"I think what happened was that about then T-shirts Became more acceptable to wear
in public," Gayle says. They still do between five and 10 of their own shirt designs each year.
For many years, Jody kept the shop running with help from Gayle in the summer and Janeal became the shop's
major buyer because she had an eye for what people wanted to buy. "I ran the store by myself for a while back when we didn't have air conditioning, " Jody
recalls. "The Blue Bell melted when I served it."
They have air conditioning now, the original building keeps growing, and items for some just seem to keep multiplying. "We try to carry items no one else carries," Gayle says. "We
wanted the shop to be fun and wanted people to want to come back. We'll do whatever we can to make it an interesting place."
A first-time visitor is struck by how much stuff is for sale. It's on benches, on counters, on shelves, on
tables, on racks, and hanging from walls and ceilings. It's everywhere you look. Hundreds and hundreds of things. "We do have something for everybody," Gayle asserts. She's not kidding.
over there and notice some small antiques and elaborate bird mansions. Look over here and see rocks and toys and jewelry. There's a small
wooden sign that warns "If you're going to write in the dust, please don't date it." Here's some artificial
flowers and straw cowgirl hats.
Smell the fragrant botanical soaps and hand creams. Leaf through the cookbooks. Choose a postcard. Figure out
where on your refrigerator this or that decorative magnet will go. Read the banners and rustic signs.
Don't miss the coffee cups, antique clocks, crystal decorations, sun dresses, rustic crosses, painted rocks,
shoes, hammocks, charms, flip-flops, sun visors, or backpacks. And you know there's probably just the right place at your place for the garden
decorations or fountains or Western decor or playfully painted roosters.
And, of course, choose your favorite T-Shirt or two. Choose from lots of T-shirts. Choose from dozens and dozens
and dozens ofT-shins. Choose from even more T-shirts. "One little girl came in and told us she wears a different Frio River T-shirt to
school in the Spring to count down to summer," Gayle says.
The Frio Dry Fifty shop is open only in the summer, and so far that's been just the way the Neal grandchildren
like it. "It's been a lot of fun," Jody says. "And I
like that I can be a mom the rest of the year. " Gayle has now retired from teaching so she can help Jody more at the shop and
help Janeal more with the buying.
"We hope to eventually set up a web store that I could handle during the year. Our
goal is that our kids, the next generation of Neals, will take over and keep it going," Gayle says smiling. "Then
maybe we can just travel around the country and buy stuff. "
But no matter where they go, their hearts and souls will always belong in tiny Concan. "Concan is very important to us," says Jody. "This
is where everyone comes home even when they live elsewhere."