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Retail therapy doesn’t always mean having to buy something shiny and new: As it turns out, a lot of those shoes and clothes you buy might end up in a landfill. Of the estimated 17 million tons of textiles produced in 2018, Americans threw away 11 million tons of textiles that same year, according to The Environmental Protection Agency—the majority of which were discarded clothes. Another three million tons were burned. So, instead of buying new, potentially wasteful things—and further fueling the trash fire—might we suggest shopping sustainably (read: vintage) for toys, memorabilia, vinyl records, and, yes, clothes?
Luckily, Denver boasts plenty of vintage shops on Broadway. (You can basically throw a rock and hit one.) So, stop clicking through online sales and start exploring on foot. Who knows, you might get lucky and score that 1983 Aerosmith tour shirt you always wanted.
Tucked inside a narrow and deep storefront, Ten Penny Store carries clothes from most of the 20th Century, including jeans, hats, jackets, and T-shirts that commemorate everything from rock bands to the 1980 tornado outbreak in Grand Isle, Nebraska. They have a small but well-curated vinyl section (with some cassettes options), and a glass case near the front entrance teeming with all manner of antiques, including a silk bra from 1920. They also sell old matchbooks. Remember matchbooks? 250 N. Broadway; Open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
A visit is like tunneling through a wellspring of obscurity. In addition to the large variety of jean jackets, concert T-shirts, flannels, dresses, and cowboy boots, you might find some rare nuggets: a sweater of Mickey Mouse hitting the slopes, Gunne Sax dresses, or a vintage Wrath of Khan tee. They also sell old stickers, patches, and other band ephemera—who doesn’t want a Flock of Seagulls cigarette case?—and classic vinyl albums (e.g. The Idiot by Iggy Pop, Fugazi’s Repeater) or lesser-known gems like records from Danish punk band Iceage. While you’re there, check out the velvet paintings covering the walls, as well as work by Margaret Keane. Sadly, the art is not for sale. 227 N. Broadway; Open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
La Lovely Vintage is perhaps more on the high-end of the price spectrum, but between the beautiful turquoise jewelry and Pendleton shirts, there’s something inside for every kind of shopper. T-shirts from defunct sports teams (like the Oakland Invaders), militaria dating to the 1940s, cacti, sherpa jackets—all of it has been spiffed up and dressed as new. The shop also carries handmade candles in a variety of scents, from brown sugar fig to Kentucky bourbon, that are elegantly housed in retro coffee and beer tins. 42 N. Broadway; Open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Want to relive your childhood? Pick from an array of Care Bear plushies and Three’s Company trading cards at this brick-and-mortar time machine. The geek haven is filled with vintage Broncos jackets, old-timey games like the beepy, handheld Electronic Football, and well-preserved Timex calculator wristwatches. The place even has “The Clapper” TV ads running on a loop (which actually might become torturous after a while). It’s perfect for 8-bit gifts and those who never grew up with the original Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt, or those nostalgic for a Robie the Robot from RadioShack. 1874 S. Broadway; Open Wednesday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 4 p.m.
Bonus Spot Worth the Drive …
Little Horse Vintage’s Louisville location—there’s one in Fort Collins, too—spans two rooms with a wide selection of vinyl records, from jazz to country to new wave, as well as furniture and rugs. At least one parlor guitar is usually available for sale, for those Delta blues fans. (An on-staff luthier in the basement studio recently restored a Paul Languedoc guitar.) And if the array of art, pocket knives, stereo equipment, and countertop display of Charles Bukowski books isn’t doing it for you, a separate hallway outside the store holds a collection of pulpy books, CDs, and bargain vinyl that can be bought on the honor system until 9 or 10 p.m. Just slide your money under the front door. 820 Main St., Louisville; Open daily 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.