Seekatz Opera House will be saying sayonara to New Braunfels this month as it is transformed into a new antique shop over the next couple of weeks.
The historic event venue, which first opened its doors in New Braunfels in the early 1900s before suffering a fire in 1941, was not fully renovated and reopened until 2004. The opera house is now closing its doors for good to allow more space for retail in downtown New Braunfels, said owner Ron Snider.
“When we reopened it 16 years ago, the Brauntex wasn’t having 45 events a year — there was no Downtown Social or Pour Haus, there was no Krause’s, or really anywhere in downtown to rent out for events,” Snider said.
With the explosion of growth in downtown New Braunfels, parking in the evening has become an issue, often leading to high levels of customer dissatisfaction from folks who rented out Seekatz for a night event, Snider said.
“If someone had, say a wedding on Saturday night, there was nowhere to park,” Snider said. “So it makes sense to turn the property into a site for retail where it will be open in the day, when there’s plenty of parking available, and be closed at night.”
Seekatz will be transformed into the Traveling Gypsy’s third local location, which will open sometime in early February, said Travelling Gypsy owner Ana Nieto.
“We’ve been trying to get into downtown for a long time,” Nieto said. “We are very excited to be renting out the space for Traveling Gypsy’s third location.”
Traveling Gypsy has a location in Gruene and in Seguin, as well, Nieto said.
“Our store in Gruene focuses more on trinkets and things tourists who visit can take home in their luggage,” Nieto said. “Our focus here in downtown will be more on antique furniture, which is really seeing a renaissance right now.”
As New Braunfels becomes a “destination antique shopping Mecca,” Snider said he feels Traveling Gypsy will fit in well with New Braunfels’ downtown.
Nieto said Traveling Gypsy will strive to offer unique antique options other stores in town don’t have.
“We do mostly furniture, we don’t do a lot of glass,” Nieto said. “We have a lot of unique pieces of furniture — bigger pieces, rugs and chairs and such — because we want
to do something a big different.”
Millennials have taken to buying more antiques, noticing the quality means the items will last longer, Nieto said.
“The wood is better, and antiques can be mixed to give a home a really modern look,” Nieto said.
Snider said he felt it was a good time for the shift from opera house to store because he wants to do what he can for downtown to continue to move it forward and improve it.
“I lament Seekatz closing more than anyone probably — it’s my baby, by business, and now I’m landlord to a business there,” Snider said. “There was an antique mall there before (renovations) and it was successful, so we feel assured the new business will do well.”
Seekatz had been filling a hole in the market as a public event space, when New Braunfels didn’t yet have the dozens of modern event venues it has today, Snider added.
“Seekatz was the first private event center in Comal County — everything else was churches, and eagles and elks and social or fraternal meeting spaces, and we saw a need for an event center and it worked out for a long time,” Snider said. “Now there are many event centers here of a higher level which is great.”
Many clubs that formerly used Seekatz as a meeting space such as the Lions Cub and Downtown Rotary have moved to the Knights of Columbus hall, which is better for parking, Snider said.
The decision to transform the venue into a Traveling Gypsy came about six months ago, Snider said. Nieto recalls it was around June or July Snider reached out to her with the idea.
“We waited until the end of the year for the last function to finish out, and didn’t book anymore,” Nieto said.
Nieto said she is excited to bring Traveling Gypsy to downtown New Braunfels and hopes New Braunfelsers are excited as well.
“We should be moving our stuff in next week,” Nieto said. “This isn’t just a store for us, this is our passion, we are very excited to work hard everyday.”
Seekatz is located at 265 W. San Antonio Street. The new Traveling Gypsy location is set to open sometime in early February.