Thundercats. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Garbage Pail Kids. The 1980s were a wondrous time to be alive, specifically if you were a kid.
Fifty-Two 80’s, a shop located in southern Denver, is well aware of that and, by the power of He-Man, are keeping the ’80s very much alive.
At Fifty-Two 80’s, the entire ’80s decade is at your fingertips. The owners offer everything from vintage Pepsi cans to New Kids on the Block trading cards and Dolly Parton dolls.
“The funny thing is that Tony and I will come into the shop every day to open it and we just can’t help but hum that song from Willy Wonka, ‘Pure Imagination’,” Dede Thompson, who co-owns this time warp with her boyfriend, Tony Vecchio, told Westword in 2015. “That pretty much sums up our feelings about living in this magical world.”
“Pure Imagination” is clearly a fitting song based on the amount of quirky merchandise they store contains.
The shop was opened in 2014 by Thompson and Vecchio after they bonded over their love of everything ’80s. Thompson worked with mortgages while Vecchio was a chef. In the span of a few months, the two crammed their eBay carts full of ’80s paraphernalia and opened the store.
“There was nothing like it at the time. Five years ago there was nothing in the country that was dedicated to the ’80s the way this store is,” Vecchio told 303 Magazine. “Now there are a handful of stores throughout the country. There’s one in New York. There’s one in California and Florida kind of doing what we do, but this is a really a unique situation. Although Dede and I grew up in the ’80s, we certainly weren’t collectors, but we felt that there was nostalgia about opening a shop like this.”
One of the best things about this treasure trove is its website, weirdly enough. If you web surf your way on over to the’80sareawesome.com, you’ll be met with VHS loading screen and some really terrible (and by that we mean great) ’80s computer game font. From there you can scroll through the site and get all your need-to-know factoids about the store. It’s pretty gnarly.
The owners guesstimate that they have about 4,500 items in the store, so every time you go in you’re bound to find something you missed. Make your way through piles of Hulk Hogan and Beetlejuice collectibles, kitschy shot glasses, Atari games, superhero action figures, and pinball machines. Also, for you sports fans out there, Fifty-Two 80’s also has a massive vintage Denver Broncos collection of sports paraphernalia. It’s basically a giant, crowded time machine designed to take you back to a time when you didn’t leave the house without teasing your permed hair, but it’s a time machine that will make you smile.
“That’s probably my favorite thing about the shop is seeing people walk around with smiles on their faces and telling us stories about when they had the toys that they’re getting ready to reclaim,” Thompson said. “And that makes all of this so worthwhile.”