I started the day outside Cheyenne, eager to find some ol' thrift store belt buckle goodness. What I found were only a handful of stores in town, one on a military base I wasn't allowed on, others that weren't open or didn't call back. But I wasn't about to give up this close and have to re-visit Wyoming later, so it was time to get down to the nitty gritty! One last store to try.
I stopped in to a St. Vincent De Paul on the edge of town and met Mary, who runs the shop and has for 13 years. She sort of fell into the position when a priest asked her to put her thrifty background and business experience to work for them. She's loved it ever since. She brings her dog, Dash, in with her and today he's up at the counter with her turning on the charm.
She says she doesn't feel the economic downturn really affected her store in donation levels or number of shoppers.
The store is big and bright, with lots of vintage items, antiques and cowboy gear-- and more western leather boots than you can shake a cow whip at!
After a quick browse and some cool photos of some really unique stuff, it was back in HaRVey and down to Colorado.
Ah, the land of outdoor sporting and an independent spirit. Where the bike racks overflow in a rainbow of eco-friendly transport and there's a dog head poking out the back window of every Subaru.
The number of thirft stores that popped up on the internet search in and around the Ft. Collins-Boulder area was mind boggling. Always a good sign that the people living there appreciate reuse.
The first stop was Ft. Collins, where we met Tony who runs Eco-Thrift. As we walk in, Tony is busy putting a price sticker on a cattle branding iron. That was a first time I ever say a branding iron in a second-hand store, but Tony says it's one of many he's seen over the years.
He and his store are focused on being completely zero waste. This place bring environmental friendliness to a whole new level that I've never, ever seen before! You know a thrift store is in an environmentally concious town if you see a solar oven for sale out front. And that's exactly the type of living Tony works to encourage in others.
Tony runs the store to set an example, he says. He pays a little extra to know the energy used in the store is provided by wind power sources. He collects vegetable oil to turn into fuel and runs his donation pick-up trucks on bio-diesel. He partners with local biking groups to promote living low to the ground and recycles as much as possible. His store is an ecclectic maze of everything-- from a mounted deer head wearing sunglasses and a umbrella hat to a bench made out of recycled skis and loads of books. His place overflows with camping gear, furniture-- you name it. Things flow out onto the sidewalk where a tent shelters a few racks of clothes from the intermittent rain.
Even his dog Blaze, an Australian Shepherd mix, was a donation, he says. A customer had brought him in one day and Tony and Blaze bonded. Then several days later the customer came back to ask if anyone might be willing to take in a dog.
Now the adorable pup roams the store, greeting customers and never wandering far from Tony, who throws Blaze's Kong out onto the sidewalk for him to fetch between waiting on customers.
Thrift stores are all about the surprises, the thrill of the hunt and the treasures you find that are the payoff. But sometimes they're not just in what you find, but also in the like-miinded people who you meet along the way.
Like Tony says-- if you see what you need here, you just came on the wrong day.
On the drive from Ft. Collins down to Boulder we must have passed a dozen thrift stores that didn't show up on our web search. We'd see the sign go by in a blur and moan that we didn't have time to hit them all. One all painted up with giant smiling animals. One was the size of a box store. One was in a small storefront in a downtown. There's just not enough time in the thrifting day.
Pulling into Boulder, we headed to ARES Thrift Store on the recommendation of Beautiful, who used to live here. The store is hidden a little bit, but it's worth the search. It's half off purple tags today and it's double punch day for frequent shoppers. The store is huge and offers plenty of Colorado-style thrift finds. Skis, sweaters, outdoor gear and the like. It's also full of objects that make it clear we are in a college town with lots of young folks. A mini-fridge plastered with ironic stickers, lots of college activity t-shirts and lots of athletic wear.
The day closed with a walk down Pearl Street and some free wi-fi action.
Thank you, Boulder!
Tomorrow is a Goodwill® day in Denver and a chance to meet with a thrift store blogger!