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It’s out with the new and in with the old, as thrifting has become an increasingly popular mode of shopping in Denver—and around the country.
While mainstay vintage outposts on Broadway as well as secondhand shops occupying Colorado’s rural corners have long been repurposing wares, dozens of new shops and entrepreneurs selling pre-owned clothing and home furnishings have popped up around the Mile High City in recent years. Along with new brick-and-mortar stores, many local vintage enthusiasts are also now creating “shoppable” Instagram accounts, amassing thousands of followers and selling their thrifty finds via recurring weekly or monthly “drops.”
It’s easy to see why the outlets have grown so popular: Not only are these sellers sourcing one-of-a-kind items that are becoming trendy again (anything mid-century modern is hot right now, for example), but their gently used pieces are also significantly cheaper. And reuse is a sustainable alternative to constantly shopping for new goods that are often cheaply manufactured using practices and materials that are detrimental to the environment.
“[The thrifting lifestyle] is about sharing exposure to sustainability in whatever way [we can],” says Tristan Bego, who co-founded Capitol Hill secondhand shop the Common Collective, with her partner Jenny Nears, in 2021 after seeing overwhelming interest in her social media posts that showed how she was styling upcycled pieces. Bego hopes to teach Coloradans just how easy it is to shift their consumer habits to create a ripple effect. “If you take 10 people who you can influence—from Instagram or whatever—about sustainability, how many other people can they affect with the same [sustainable] mindset?”
To help you find your own thrifted treasures, we gathered some tips from Bego—and mined our own personal experiences—for how to best navigate Denver’s growing world of secondhand shops. Plus, we tell you where to find the best home goods and vintage threads along the Front Range for every budget and style.
Be consistent and patient. Bego says you’ll want to commit to shopping at secondhand stores as often as you’d shop at the mall—or, OK, online. You’re not going to find a gem every time you browse. It’ll be piece by piece, which can seem slow, but it’s the only way to start building a sustainable (and supercool) closet.
Follow local Instagram-based shops, and turn on notifications for when they post. The one-of-a-kind nature of thrifting can sometimes make snagging that iconic piece—or winning the occasional bidding war—feel like a competitive sport. Turning on story and post notifications for your favorite accounts will put you one step ahead of the competition when new items drop.
Be kind. For some sellers, scouting and delivering upcycled goods is their full-time job. For others, it’s just a passion project. Either way, thrifting is essentially running a small business—even if you’re just doing it part time—so respect each individual seller’s bidding rules, community guidelines, and time. (And be kind to your fellow thrifters, too!)
Share your favorite finds loud and proud. Post that killer new blazer or pair of oval shades on social media. There’s no need to gatekeep your sweet sustainable finds!
Don’t miss the large-scale pop-up markets happening around the metro area every month. The below list of shops encompasses just a mere fraction of the Coloradans selling unique thrifted wares, so hitting the racks at the city’s frequent line-up of collaborative thrift events is the easiest way to discover new finds. (More on this below.)
For Clothing and Accessories
Garage Sale Vintage
Sustainable shopping becomes an entire experience at this vintage retail concept, where you can sip margaritas from the full-service bar (don’t miss happy hour, Monday through Thursday, 4 to 7 p.m.) and play a game of Pac-Man, all while browsing the vinyl collection and buzzing around a sea of ’70s-patterned silk blouses, retro Nuggets jerseys, nostalgic enamel pins, and other statement jewelry from dozens of local vendors. Garage Sale, which opened its flagship in Larimer Square two years ago, has since expanded to Lakewood, Edgewater, and, recently, gone nationwide.
On Beat Vintage
Founder Lydia Peacock only picks the finest fabrics for On Beat’s pop-up, which lives inside local jewelry brand Saro’s Boulder and Cherry Creek boutiques. Whether you gravitate toward perfectly weathered cowboy boots and a Western fringe leather jacket or a silk scarf with a tweed, Chanel-like blazer and a pair Prada kitten heels, Peacock stocks vintage threads that are guaranteed classics. More shopping and personalized style bundle options are available at onbeatvintage.com.
Show Pony Vintage
Welcome to Y2K heaven. Stocked with all the kitschy hair clips and graphic tees of your favorite childhood cartoons that are all the rage right now, Show Pony is the thrift destination for stylish Gen Xers and millennials. The shop opened near the University of Denver in early 2022 and is home to a rotating community of secondhand vendors and their curated throwbacks from the ’80s, ’90s, and early aughts. Spin through Show Pony’s racks to cop your next band tee, Denver Broncos bomber jacket, Instagram-worthy neon matching set, and more.
The Common Collective
This year-old Capitol Hill space, founded by Tristan Bego and Jenny Near, is your one-stop hub for Black-owned and women-owned small businesses selling everything from gender-neutral, sustainable clothing to hand-crafted candles, ceramics, and other artisan goods. Don’t miss TCC After Dark, a monthly after-hours event that happens on the third Saturday of each month, to get 20 percent off the whole store.
For Furniture and Home Goods
Close that tab with the online CB2 cart you’ve been eyeing, and head to Nicole Balgley’s posh, shoppable Cap Hill showroom, where decorative disco balls and house plants galore provide inspiration for how to style the refurbished mid-century modern furniture and decor in your own space. Think: coveted Cesca chairs, Art Deco glassware and mirrors, and sleek antique brass etageres.
Resting Thrift Face
Looking for more of a hippie-dippy, granola aesthetic? Shop upcycled Boho-style home goods for any down-to-earth abode by bidding on @restingthriftface_’s frequent Instagram sales, or by perusing in-person at Resting Thrift Face’s pop-up inside Hampden Street Antique Market, where artisan rugs, hand-woven macrame, and rattan chairs abound.
Collect all the eclectic decor you want without any of the consumer guilt at Boulder-based Thrifted Homestead. Shop weekly story sales on its Instagram account, @thrifted_homestead, or via the website to find funky side tables, camp-y ceramics, pop-culture collectibles, and other retro tchotchkes that will make for conversation starters on any coffee table.
For Clothing, Home Goods, and More
Freckle & Fringe
A one-woman show out of Wheat Ridge, Freckle & Fringe owner Maia Burke has amassed a cult following on Instagram during the pandemic for her vintage hauls—including stunning Neoclassical decor, ornate heirloom jewelry cases, and timeless clothing items (see: unisex button-ups, vintage denim, and gold chains). Browse Freckle & Fringe’s new website where fresh finds are added weekly, and don’t forget to turn on notifications for when Burke hosts the occasional story sale.
From Gunne Sax dresses and cowhide clutches to marble tables and Wassily-style chairs, two-year-old Thrift Cult has a rotating stash of everything that’s oh-so hot right now. Shop the smart garb and sleek houseware—curated by founder Carlye Tomasello—inside RiNo design collective Modern Nomad from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Pop-Up Markets and Events
This free Friday night marketplace takes over RiNo’s Infinite Monkey Theorem winery once a month (the next event is August 26, 5 to 9:30 p.m.) with DJs, local bites, and a rotating cast of resale vendors and Colorado artists creating paintings and other art on-site. Find info on upcoming events via @indtruders_flea on Instagram
Tags N Tats
Shop markdowns on vintage wares and get a flash tat (a simple pre-drawn permanent tattoo design artists offer for walk-up clients at a flat rate ) from a local artist while you’re at it during this new “monthly market for spontaneous people.” Launched in spring 2022 by Sydney Swing of Manic Pixie Thrift, a local thrift shop and styling service, each pop-up party hosts two featured tattoo artists and more than a dozen clothing and accessory vendors, plus live tunes, drinks, food trucks, and other sweet treats. The next Tags event is August 28 at 3 p.m.; entry is free; follow @manicpixiethrift for info on upcoming events
Founded in Denver in 2019, this annual convention—which now has events in six other cities, including Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Los Angeles—draws hundreds of vendors to the National Western Complex each spring for a full day of vintage and thrifty hauls. The group also hosts recurring Thrift-Pop marketplaces outside of the Denver Central Market on the last Sunday of every month. Find updates on 2023 dates and upcoming Thrift-Pop events at thriftcon.co and @thrift_con on Instagram