Minimalist running capital of the USA? Yes! This is purely based on anecdotal evidence that I have collected over the past year or so on trips to Austin and other parts of the country. I started the transition to minimalist / barefoot running about two years ago and have run a variety of areas including in and around the DC metro region, suburbs of Charlotte, NC, in and around the campus of LSU, San Diego, CA, parts of Mexico and all over Texas. I have seen minimalist and barefoot runners in many of these places but no one place can even come close to the concentration that I have observed in Austin, TX.
I would say that Merrell has made a huge push and now rivals VFF for the most seen minimalist shoe (once again based purely on anecdotal evidence) followed by NB. I rarely see any of the smaller specialty brand minimalist shoes, maybe specialty brand isn’t the best term, but oh well? I have only witnessed a handful of people running in different varieties of huaraches and even less actually running barefoot.
These observations are based on just getting out and running in these places at different times of the day and obviously this would all change, if I showed up and ran with a minimalist and/or barefoot running group. Austin is not only a great place to visit for the food and music, but also because it is the Minimalist Running Capital of the USA!