We all remember when USA Today labeled Durango the “least fashion conscious” city in America in 1988. I wasn’t here in 1988 (actually, I was born that year) but I’m inclined to believe our sartorial situation has improved since then. Sure, locals may favor Chacos and nondescript sportswear, but there are still a surprising number of cheap, stylish places from which to buy clothes in our mountain town. We couldn’t include everyone in this article, so let me say now that Rose Duds (a thrift store on Main) has some fantastic holiday/party dresses, and if you have the funds, don’t miss Old Colorado Vintage; they sell vintage clothes, military uniforms and other genuine items your grandfather probably owned, ranging from the Victorian era to the early ’70s – but they’re on the higher end of pre-owned shops in town.
Confused about the difference between thrift and vintage? Thrift stores generally take clothing donations or drop-offs, and often support a nonprofit or some kind of charitable cause. Thrift shop selections aren’t necessarily curated, and there can be a good amount of junk to sift through. Vintage or consignment shops carry higher-end pieces, and since their clothing is carefully selected, it’s also unlikely to have stains or holes – but that good quality raises the prices.
So whether you’re a student looking for inexpensive winter layers or a regular ol’ Durangoan moving into an unfurnished apartment with rent so high you can’t afford Bed, Bath & Beyond’s kitchenware luxuries, here are a few affordable secondhand stores you have to check out ASAP.
Second Time Around
Location: 1163 E 2nd Ave
Hours: 10 p.m. to 5 p.m. Mon.-Sat.
Specialty: Kitty-corner to Buckley Park, Second Time Around is a cozy upscale consignment store (small enough so as not to overwhelm you with choices), featuring spacious changing rooms and color coordinated clothing racks with lots of designer names mixed in. They carry mostly clothing, gently used, and there’s also a great stock of shoes, jewelry, accessories and scarves (primarily women’s choices, but some for men as well). The entire second floor is devoted to children’s items. There is also a selection of home décor in a small front room. On the consignment end of things, you can bring in 10 items, once a week, to sell; they also take appointments for larger loads, but you’ll probably have to wait a few weeks.
What sets them apart: “We’re organized well,” said owner Sharon Schell. “Our items are sorted; you don’t have to look through things you don’t want to see to find things you do want. I try and only take the best things. It’s higher-end product for an affordable price.”
Unique items: A baby pink (real) leather jacket with fringe, hand-painted for $85. A warm, gray and black alpaca poncho for $50. I also spotted a pair of sequined ruby slippers (actually, wedge heels) that would be perfect for a Dorothy Halloween costume.Reruns
Location: 572 East Sixth Ave.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily
Specialty: Down the street from the Natural Foods Co-Op, Reruns Clothing Boutique offers quality pre-owned clothing and accessories, while Reruns Home Furnishings (in a slightly smaller house directly next door) provides home, patio and garden finds. Their homeware is vintage; small furniture, framed folk art, pottery, cookware, fiestaware, teacups, lamps, mirrors and garden art in the summer (like pots and outside furniture). The clothing is resale, and all looks brand new or only lightly worn; you’ll find lots of nice brands (like Free People), and most items are practical, every day wear. Laura Rickard, owner of 25 years, is putting away her summer dresses and bringing out stacks of warm winter coats. “I don’t consider my stuff fancy or formal,” said Rickard. “It’s definitely Durango-style clothing, everything from active wear to a great pair of designer jeans.”
What sets them apart: “We’re more upscale without being snooty,” said Rickard. “I like sporty, trendy, casual stuff that suits my clientele better.”
Unique Items: Some cool estate furniture, like antique buffets and dressers. A large variety of jewelry; everything from sterling to costume to vintage. I also noticed a fun selection of quirky pins, several shaped like cats.Indoor Flea Market
Location: 701 East Second St.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
Specialty: Located on the very edge of the grid out by Sonic, the Indoor Flea Market is an incredibly eclectic and fun store to peruse; you’ll find everything from valuable (but tiny) Hot Wheels toy cars, to aging issues of Playboy. They carry furniture, high-end antiques and lots of collector’s items: vintage and antique toys, tools, knives, artwork and endless random knick-knacks. The inventory pretty well encapsulates the “Wild West” Colorado lifestyle of old; I came across dozens of Western art pieces (depicting cowboys, Native Americans and ranchers at work), saws and power tools, stacks of spare wood, old-timey top hats, a box full of rusted horseshoes, and rustic signs with slogans like “Welcome to the cabin.” The flea market has been open 18 years, and Wade Zufelt has owned it for five. He claims he had even more authentic Western clutter before Quentin Tarantino’s crew for “The Hateful Eight” came and cleaned him out for movie props. The prices are fair (a bit steeper than a thrift store), but antique furniture is often sold for the price of regular used furniture. “We cater to the students and try to do as much as we can for people in need, donate a lot of things to theater groups, plays, local stuff,” said Zufelt.
What sets them apart: “I think I have more true, genuine antiques than anybody in town,” said Zufelt. He also restores and refinishes many furniture pieces, some that were previously damaged. Before owning the store, Zufelt was a cabinet maker and wood carver.
Unique items: Toy trucks from the 1920s. Oil paintings between 70 and 100 years old. Antique bottles from the 19th century. A miniature pinfire or “watch fob” pistol, originally designed for a gambler-type or cowboy to wear on a chain. They fired a 3-millimeter bullet (which can kill you at close range). Dance hall girls also wore them on necklace chains for protection. “These more modern ones are just cap guns, so this one doesn’t fire a real bullet,” said Zufelt. It was designed by Gene Clark, a watchmaker in Pagosa whose watches have sold for up to $106,000. “I’m not really wanting to sell this one,” Zufelt admitted.Sideshow Emporium & Gallery
Location: 208 County Road 250
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tues.-Sat.
Specialty: Sideshow Emporium isn’t downtown, but it IS right near Bread and Star Liquor, and carries vintage and modern clothes, shoes, bags and accessories. It’s a good place for funkier versions of men’s formal wear, like bowties and suspenders. They also have some housewares; right now there’s a big collection of graphic vintage tablecloths, prints from different local artists, vintage paint-by-number paintings and little suitcases.
What sets them apart: “It’s a curated selection,” said owner Heather Narwid. “A thrift store is like, ‘throw it all in there,’ with not-so-great things mixed in. But everything here is good quality, condition, label, make, material. I get a lot of stuff that doesn’t look like it has ever been touched or washed or worn.” Narwid is at Sideshow all day every day, and she’s the sole buyer, orderer and seller – so the service is highly personalized. She’ll go out of her way to help pick items for you to try on (and as Narwid is our DGO style columnist, we can vouch for her fashion sense). Helping people dress well is one of her greatest pleasures. “But if you don’t like me, you’re out of luck!” Narwid laughed.
Unique items: Wool coats and jackets. Fringe leather jackets for women and men. “Guys are a little hard-pressed to get distinctive things in town, but they seem pretty excited about the classic or wild styles that I have,” said Narwid.First United Methodist Thrift
Location: 986 East Second Ave.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mon.-Sat.
Specialty: Centrally located in the heart of Durango on Second Avenue, First United Methodist Thrift is a true thrift store, very inexpensive, with a jewelry section, good quality shoes and a broad but not overwhelming amount of clothing. There’s inevitably some rubbish (and I’d recommend washing whatever you bring home before wearing it), but also items from upscale brands like J.Crew mixed in for the same cheap prices. “You can get stuff from Walmart or J.Crew, and you don’t have to go online shopping or out to a big mall,” said store manager Lori Brouner. “It’s all here.” There is no furniture, but they do sell small counter-top appliances like blenders and toasters, dishes and glasses. Methodist Thrift takes whatever the public drops off if it’s usable and sellable (they recycle the “unsellable.”) You’ll have to hunt a little to find something great here.
What sets them apart: First United Methodist has been in business for 48 years in Durango, so they’re well-established in the community, with more than 100 volunteer workers. “We have paid staff, too, but the volunteers run our cash registers and help our customers out on the floor,” said Brouner. “It’s a good place to be, so we attract people who want to volunteer. We’re also able to help many local organizations with the money that we make.”
Unique items: “We have two full racks of Halloween costumes!” said Brouner. “We save vintage clothing, funky stuff, plus the regular Halloween-labeled costumes that we put out this time of year.”Dunn Deal Resale Store
Location: 3101 Main Ave. #3
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat.; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sun.
Specialty: Tucked between North Zia and the Yellow Carrot, Dunn Deal has a lot of items going for thrift store prices (read: cheap), like dishware and movies; but they tend to carry nicer furniture that is nevertheless more affordable than visiting a furniture store. There are tons of sporting goods, video games and gaming systems, power tools, vinyl records and heaps of electronics. Not much clothing, except for coats and shoes. Connor Wills, full-time staffer, promises that skis and winter sports equipment will be arriving soon. “We’ve got stuff for a dollar, up to like, a really expensive wine cooler that was $3,000 new, and we’re selling it for $1,000,” said Wills. If you’re nervous about buying used electronics, don’t worry – Dunn Deal tests 95 percent of their merchandise (occasionally something slips through the cracks), and there’s a fair return policy for electronics and tools, in case you bring something home and it doesn’t work.
What sets them apart: “We’re a resale store, so we’re actually buying things from people and then reselling it,” explained Wills. “A lot of other thrift stores are purely donation.” Dunn Dean will pick up and deliver furniture or larger items from your house. They also sell a lot of mattresses and box springs (after cleaning them first), going for $50 and up. “We’re one of the only places in town doing that,” said Wills. “I’d say the quality of our stuff is quite a bit higher than the other thrifts, since we’re paying money for it.”
Unique items: Wills likes to show customers a vintage bottle of snake whiskey, supposedly a medicine capable of curing diseases. There’s also loads of Coca-Cola paraphernalia, and at one time they carried the original Ms. Pac Man arcade system.La Plata County Humane Society Thrift Store
Location: 111 South Camino Del Rio (Bodo Park)
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri., Sat. 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sun. noon to 4p.m.
Specialty: Down a small hill adjacent to Durango’s Walmart, you’ll find the Humane Society Thrift Store. They rely on donations (like Methodist Thrift), so their prices are dead cheap. Their funds go to working with homeless pets (hello, good cause) and they’ve got clothes, sporting goods (like skis), a huge furniture section and a generous selection of children’s books and board games. The items in this store are distinctly hand-me-down, and not everything is good quality, so you’ve gotta be a patient hunter. I found a “Wind in the Willows” collector’s plate (illustration by Michael Hague) for $2 (which I bought, because I already have the “Alice in Wonderland” plate to match).
What sets them apart: At the back of the store, there’s an entire room of used books, and it has that delightful old book smell. There’s also a very large selection of fall and winter clothing right now; puffy coats, sweaters and bins chock-full of assorted hats and gloves.
Unique items: Hands down, the Humane Society had the weirdest knick-knacks I’ve seen in Durango. Sure, much of their collectibles, figurines and artwork is corny or in bad taste; but who doesn’t want a demented bear statuette or a doll who looks possessed?