Thrift stores thrive as more open throughout Roaring Fork Valley
Searching through the racks of Aspen Thrift Shop or Susie’s Consignment is ritual for many in-the-know, brand-savvy shoppers while visiting Aspen. For locals, it’s an underrated community resource and economy-driver.
Stroll even further downvalley and the thrifting becomes more abundant — and expansive.
The tradition, hobby, or need of thrifting started early in the 19th century when religious and charity groups would collect second-hand clothing to resell for money to give to those in need, their charity, or fund jobs. During the 1930s Great Depression, thrifting truly took off.
Today in the Roaring Fork Valley, there are more than 20 outlets in which to thrift, and it seems it’s ever expanding. A mix of for-profit, non-profit, and hybrid stores exist for nearly every ounce of merchandisable home good, clothing article, and sporting article. Some stores only take donations, some consign, and others procure their own resale items.
Thrift stores have charity at the root of the business, whether 100% of the proceeds are given to aid or a certain portion given to rotating charities, thrifting, and reselling is a beneficial community cycle.
With back-to-school around the corner and inflation remaining high, the Roaring Fork Valley is thriving with thrift, which also equates to sustainability.
Thrifting outlets have grown tremendously in the past few years across the world. According to ThredUp’s Annual Resale Report for last year, secondhand shopping is becoming a global phenomenon, expected to grow 127% by 2026. North America is also leading the second-hand market for upscale resale.
Most notably is the rise in online thrift outlets; however, in the Roaring Fork Valley, there is more and more space dedicated to physical thrift.
Thrifting in Aspen at the OG means a stop at Aspen Thrift Shop, which began in 1949 to help pay the salaries of nurses. The charity then moved on to help the Red Brick School, which now houses the Red Brick Center for the Arts. Through the gift of donation and resale, the non-profit was instrumental in starting the first kindergarten and the first hot-lunch program for the school; then the non-profit moved onto Aspen Ski Club.
It’s been a keystone of the city and community. Moving around town, the current Aspen Thrift Store landed in its current location in 1983, next to the fire station.
Susie’s Ltd. Consignments has been an Aspen staple for decades. The consignment store sells clothing for men and women with a sprinkling of furniture, housewares, jewelry, rugs, and more. It was so successful that a second location in Basalt has opened.
Little Bird is a curated, high-end, luxury-brand consignment store where nearly every designer brand is represented. Don’t be surprised by a celebrity spotting while hunting through the labels. It, too, was so successful that another location opened in Willits in Basalt.
Aspen Home Consignment on Main Street usually has an array of items on the lawn out front, and numerous rooms full of vintage and estate sale goods. Its historic charm and ever-changing merchandise allures both locals and the tourists of Main Street.
Heirlooms on Mildland in Basalt is a decades-old consignment shop that features vintage and Western apparel, accessories, furniture, art, and more.
Golddigger’s Specialty Consignment in El Jebel is more like an antique store, but there are finds to be had. From resale to consignment, there is dishware, clothing, books, furniture, and even a dedicated room where every item is pink.
Located on Highway 133 is LuLu’s Thrift Shoppe. Here, shoppers find a smaller selection of women’s clothes, accessories, shoes, and a few home goods. Outside snags include board games, vases, and even an occasional piece of luggage.
On Highway 82 toward Glenwood Springs is Cattle Creek Thrift and Furniture. This is a true treasure hunter’s paradise. The warehouse has two floors of goods including furniture, sports gear, home accessories, books, clothing, jewelry, and more.
Second-hand sports gear is also expected to become one of the largest growing retail markets in the next couple years. Ragged Mountain in Carbondale is the valley’s most comprehensive, season-specific outdoor gear and clothing mecca.
During the first two weeks of each month, the store takes in new or gently-used clothing and sporting goods. These must be season specific. It goes on the rack, you make some cash, and the items not sold are donated to charity.
In summer, there are dozens of bikes, helmets, life preservers/flotation devices, climbing shoes, and items of all mountain and water activity. Come autumn, look for more team-related gear such as soccer shoes, warmer clothes, and in winter, the snow gear numbers in the hundreds.
Rock It, formerly Sawyer’s Closet, on Main Street in Carbondale always sold gently-used or brand-new infant through teen clothing and accessories.
In summer 2023, with women’s consignment and desire for the need both to unload and shop for the local community, Sawyer’s Closet transformed into Rock It and decided to add space for women’s consignment and resale. Within the first two months of the transition, the increase in foot traffic and sales was noticeable.
Glenwood Springs, the largest city in the valley, has nearly a dozen consignment and resale stores.
Often listed as the number one resale and consignment Habitat for Humanity store in the nation, ReStore: Habitat for Humanity of the Roaring Fork’s warehouse specializes in furniture from community drop-off to extremely high-end items donated through hotels, million-dollar renovations, and more.
The warehouse is always completely full of furniture, with loads waiting in the docks to come out. This is a true furniture outlet — staff to help move items, reserve items, help with measurements, and more. The vignettes are detailed, and entire home furnishings from beds to paintings to pots can be purchased onsite.
Expect entire lodge furniture drop-offs from a $20 million remodel or even hundreds of cans of unused, high-end paint in a specific gloss. Sailboats, billiards tables — there’s even a dedicated electronics and appliance section and builders club.
The store and organization advocates for affordable housing and reuse of locally-donated items to generate revenue that enables the development of affordable ownership housing for families and individuals from Parachute to Aspen.
Two of a kind
Not one, but two resale and consignment clothing and accessory stores opened in Glenwood Springs in December 2022.
The Aspenite is located by Hotel Colorado and spread across two floors of retail space. The racks are color-coordinated, seasonal, and expansive. The consignment store has both women and men’s clothing, shoes, and accessories.
Three friends pooled their clothing, knowledge, and knack for shopping to create the upscale resale. The top floor is a more sophisticated space for designer labels and purses. The lower level has hundreds and hundreds of articles of clothing for men and women.
In December 2022, Kelly Cleaver also decided to open a resale and consignment store in Glenwood Springs. She consigns mid-century modern, vintage, and present-day furniture, clothing, jewelry, home decor, and art.
Since opening, her clothing is the number one item people are after — all of which is consignment.
“We have high-quality, everyday wear up to evening dresses and even quite a bit of designer labels with a wide price range. I currently have a vintage Diane Von Furstenberg dress that I call the Mary Tyler Moore outfit,” she said.
In addition to clothing, Village Vintage Consignment has furniture, collectibles, and albums.
“The locals are endless, and we have repeat customers already. We also see lots of tourists, so it’s really a 50/50 split right now,” added Cleaver.
Cleaver turned a vacant space into her upcycled masterpiece, albeit with lot of renovations. She loved the location next to her daughter’s high school with the mix of generations. In honor of back to school, all students and teachers get a 10% discount at Village Vintage Consignment through Labor Day.
There’s more Glenwood Springs thrifting. Other popular spots for treasure hunting include Community Thrift & Treasure and Defiance Thrift Store, both on Glen Ave., and Katie’s Consignment Shop on Cooper Ave. Loop Consignment and Book Grove, a resale bookstore, are both located in the historic district.
Saturday at the Red Brick Center for the Arts
The Thrift Shop of Aspen will hold its Annual Art Sale on Saturday at the Red Brick Center for the Arts, 110, E. Hallam, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
The Thrift Shop’s ninth annual Art Sale offers a chance to see and purchase some of the many beautiful, rare, valuable, and (occasionally) weird art and vintage items that are donated by the Aspen community to the shop during the year.
Generous donors give it more art and artifacts than they can ever display, and the Art Sale is their opportunity to offer the special treasures to the public all on one hectic, fabulous day.
This year, for the first time, the Thrift Shop is sharing the sale day with their friends at Aspen Film, who will have available for sale several beautiful and valuable movie posters, some signed.
National Thrift Store Day: Aug. 17
National Thrift Shop Day, celebrated on Aug. 17, is dedicated to supporting local thrift shops and raising awareness for charitable organizations. Thrift shops aim to help those most vulnerable in communities and give back to the needy.