IT’S A DISTINCT STAGE IN PARENTING.
Your baby outgrows the clouds you painted on his ceiling. He beams a soccer ball at the silver-threaded angel mobile you hung above his crib-turned big-boy twin. He has strong opinions about the red gingham curtains you imagined might be retro-cool even through middle school. Not. He also wants to paint over the chalkboard wall you made him in kindergarten. While quarantining, he streamed both seasons of Dream Home Makeover, and he’s got big ideas involving a disco ball.
When you face this moment, don’t mourn the end of your sweetpea decor. Instead, wait for the first rainy day of mud season and take your ‘tween thrifting with a goal – to pull-off a bedroom makeover on the cheap-ish from local thrift stores. By thrifting, we can teach lessons in frugality and minimizing waste. We can help our kids to see the possibilities in painting a mix-matched set of frames, and we can help them gain a concept-to-completion muscle for getting it done.
THE VALLEY’S SECOND-HAND FURNISHING SCENE IS HOT.
“The quality and value in this Valley are like nowhere else,” Tigger Ash, owner of Designer Consigner says. It turns out, there’s never been a better time to shop local thrift and consignment stores. Many an old-time Aspenite will tell you stories of stumbling upon haute couture off the rack at the Aspen Thrift Store. This year’s unprecedented real estate activity has resulted in a similar treasure trove of outstanding interior furnishings. As new owners move in and wish to make their mark, we’re hearing of curtains, shelving, cabinetry, deck chairs, window boxes, and even garage doors being discarded.
The Valley’s decorators and builders are making sure these items get donated or consigned instead of dumped. So, like sharks circling chum, veterans of the thrift scene are in a frenzy. It’s a little like hiking the bowl on a powder day. There’s a certain extreme love-this-place feeling that comes in joining the hunt.
MEET SIX LOCAL THRIFT / SECOND-HAND FURNISHING SHOPS.
Here’s an intro to our favorite second-hand furnishing shops, along with notes about actual loot that was up for grabs on one recent rainy day.
ASPEN THRIFT SHOP
422 E Hopkins Ave, Aspen
A beloved local institution since 1949, this entirely-volunteer-run organization has served the Valley for generations. So we all felt the silence on Hopkins Avenue when the doors closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19. Though the Aspen mecca for downright cheap clothing and housewares (often with high-end brand name labels) has remained closed, the charitable organization continues its mission. It plans to award $75K in college scholarships this May. The Aspen Thrift Shop grant program will also continue its work, as soon as they are able to re-open, awarding a number of community-sustaining gifts to local nonprofit organizations.
180 Fiou Lane # 103, Basalt
Once you visit this home furnishings showroom in Basalt South, you’ll understand why it thrives without a downtown location or foot traffic. Since 2000, Tigger Ash has cultivated a dedicated following among designers, homeowners, and collectors. Some of whom travel from out of state pulling trailers to load up on treasures she carefully curates at estate sales. Insider hook – get on the store’s email list to receive notices of upcoming estate sales where you can work with Tigger and her assistant Kathryn Lobenherz to bring home unbelievable high-end and custom furniture, lighting, table linens, rugs, and even jewelry. Or peruse the well-organized, and impeccably clean store to find the perfect wall hanging, silverware set, mid-century-modern chairs, or new boho throw pillows.
“I grew up as a dumpster diver,” Ash explains. “And I naturally moved into this, in an upscale way. For me, it’s all about the thrill of the treasure hunt. And the friendships I’ve made helping people find the special pieces that make a home. My regulars have become like best friends.”
65 Favre Lane, El Jebel
This spot is set back off the road, so you might have rounded the corner to the bowling alley and missed it. Go find it and visit with owner Christine Lester. You’ll feel differently about your day when you leave. As if you’ve just stepped out of another world – a graceful, glamorous world – where 1950s era Lone Ranger record players live alongside Marilyn-style satin dresses with matching kitten heels. Yet you cannot call it a vintage/antique store because a lot of items are brand new. Such as a Parisian mirrored dining table. And last season’s new-with-tags handbags from a shall-not-be-named Aspen boutique. There’s also a gorgeous new handpainted chest. Give yourself time to explore. Every inch of the building is filled. However, it isn’t completely crammed. Everything is artfully displayed, as if in a collector’s museum.
Be sure to check out a section of the store that Lester jokingly calls “the little girl’s room.” (Photo above) Imagine a pink hallway into an entirely pink W.C. where you find pink guitars, pink boas, real-deal Lucchese hand-stitched pink cowgirl boots, pink tiered petit-four stands, pink silk flowers, pink dice in a pink porcelain bowl. Your inner princess will swoon, and so will your girly girl.
HUERTA BROTHERS SECOND-HAND
50 North 4th Street, Carbondale
Brothers, Gil and Marcos Huerta took over Monk’s old Backdoor space last March, not imagining the impact of a global pandemic on the horizon. “We’d signed the lease,” Gil says, “So we went for it.” Their business model is different than most other second-hand clothing and furnishing stores. They don’t do consignment. Or donations. He and Marcos purchase their inventory outright, both locally as well as from California where they have some connections in the storage industry and can bid on whole pallets of merchandise. “I’m always looking for what people like. I enjoy making people happy,” Gil says. The idea came to him through his previous work as a professional carpet cleaner. “I was always talking with people who had things they didn’t want anymore.” Insider tip – at the end of every month, the Huerta Brothers put a free bin on the front porch, and kids’ clothes are always $1.
2 Glenwood Springs locations:
0062 CR 133, #w (off of Highway 82 near Cattle Creek)
2518 South Glen Avenue
Way cleaner and better organized than previous thrift stores in this location, this local nonprofit is well worth the stop. At the flagship location on Glen Avenue, among tidy racks of clothing and houseware ephemera, you’ll also find living air plants. And clever, handmade art kits. And, if you’re feeling capable, you’ll find a working Singer sewing machine for $25. Now you can sew the bedspread you saw on Pinterest, the one made from a bunch of old jeans.
On my way out the door, the friendly store manager mentions a new location opened days before, just for high-end items and furniture. She gives me the address, which is actually confusing even to Siri. Better directions – at the Cattle Creek exit, pass the old go-cart track. Drive to the end of the service road. You’ll find a new building facing Hwy 82, showroom at the far end.
My first impression – it smells new – in a very pleasing fresh wood, construction project way.
The nonprofit director, Kim Cabeceiras, shares her vast vision. Outfitting a carpenter’s workshop within the store for furnishings that need TLC. Staff can refinish items for resale. Or, customers can complete projects purchased there. Imagine upholstery classes and staining workshops and some help getting a dowel cut for reinforcing a wobbly dining room chair.
“We’re all about keeping it out of the landfill,” Cabeceiras says, taking me on a tour of the light-filled showroom, where I found an offer I could not refuse. A $20 pair of new, not-at-all dusty pannier bags for my husband’s townie bike. Exactly like the set I passed up last Father’s Day when I found them elsewhere for $80 each.
HABITAT ROARING FORK RESTORE
53 Calaway Court, Glenwood Springs
Since 2010, Habitat for Humanity’s Restore has diverted from local landfills an average of 3125 tons annually. (Yes, 30+ million pounds a year.) Shopping here, along with donating items to this nonprofit organization, supports its mission to provide affordable housing in our community.
Here, I found a huge selection of everything for your home under one roof. Cabinetry, desks, beds, dressers, televisions, appliances, curtains, rugs, shelving, frames, seriously everything, even unopened 5-gallon buckets of eco-friendly paint.
New, in response to COVID, an impressive new website listing hundreds of categorized items. With photographs, details, measurements, and filtering options so you can regularly check in to watch for needed items. If you find that wished-for slab of butcher block, simply call to place a hold before making the drive.
“You’ll always find good, solid, made-to-last pieces, and big-ticket items smaller stores don’t have room for, like air hockey and billiards tables,” says Sue Brockman, one of Restore’s many knowledgeable team members.
For example, I found a beautiful, gently worn red velvet wing bag chair. $35 It warranted an extra lap around the showroom. What if it goes into my son’s bedroom to make a reading nook?
Another “Make Mama Happy” idea – a set of country club ski lockers. $45 each. Imagine solving backdoor landslides forever, with a tidy place for skis, helmets, gloves, coats. Sporting built-in boot driers. Plus built-in cabinetry doors, heavy-duty hardware. And brass name plates already customized for Fritz, Bob, Nancy and Peter.
LOCAL THRIFT MEETS SHAMELESS “SHELF” PROMOTION
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” We can live by this adage when teaching our kids the art of shopping local thrift. Rather than tossing your copy of the current edition of MOUNTAIN PARENT, give it a second life as wall art. Each of the six second-hand stores we visited offered perfectly good frames priced between $1-$10.
MP’s IN SEASON Locally Sourced Map Series
Explore everything from local nature parks to locally-owned restaurants.