Special Guest Series: Shopping on the Cheap In Austin
I’m excited to share a short series on creative shopping from our lovely client Nichole Wagner. In her first installment, she’ll share her personally curated guide to thrift shopping in ATX. Enjoy!
Nichole is a web designer. Check out her website nicholewagner.com.
Here in Austin, we have a huge variety of thrift, vintage, recycled and otherwise clothes shops. Shopping at these establishments can be a great way to find your unique style, save money and stay environmentally friendly.
As a general rule, thrift stores have donated items (either donated directly to them or they buy bulk donations from charities and resell). Resale stores purchase clothes and resell which allows them to be more selective about what they carry. Vintage is a sliding term depending on who you ask, but most “vintage” in Austin is ’50s-’80s. Most vintage shops are highly curated.
In the thrift category, I like the good ol’ GW Boutique (Goodwill). They usually have well-lit stores, several dressing rooms and good overall organization. Their North and South Lamar locations are especially good, and I’ve heard good things about the one out in Westlake (in general, the nicer an area the GW is in, the nicer stuff it will have). Prices can vary but are generally one-price-fits-all-of-the-type (for example, all dresses are one price, all sweaters another) and are frequently more expensive when compared to other thrift store. Some stores mark-up brand names while others don’t (I’ve seen premium denim both standard priced and priced up to $25.) There’s also a Goodwill Outlet which sells items out of bins by the pound. Lots of digging, but an even more cost-effective way to fill your closet.
Texas Thrift, on the I-35 feeder road north of 51st, has another treasure trove of clothes and I’ve found some great items here. Unlike Goodwill, they price their clothing individually so keep an eye out for sloppy tags. I’ve been surprised at the register a few times here, but even so, their prices are generally fair. They run student and senior discounts on specific days and they have tag-color-of-the-day where tags of the chosen color are on sale.
Savers (Burnet location is much better than then Lamar shop). Even so, I find a lot of sometime over-priced, mid-range clothes here. They also individually price here, sometimes to the point of sticker shock. I’ve found a few tiny slivers of gold here, so I will check if I’m in the area but don’t make special trips. It’s pretty rare to see actual designers on their racks.
Thrift Town (Manchanca and Stassney) has a veritable ton of clothes. They have lots of promotions here, and what seems like a wide selection. Its not my favorite place to shop because it’s not as clean as others and there’s no longer a GW in the same strip mall.
St. Vincent de Paul on South Congress. So. Much. Fabulosity. They usually keep the best items in the case in front of the store, but the racks hold decent finds as well. The entire downstairs is filled with well organized racks of clothes — and it supports a great cause. #1 reason I don’t shop here more is that it’s right in the thick of SoCo.
While there’s the obvious Buffalo Exchange on Guadalupe and Plato’s Closets in mall-land, there’s Style Encorewhich is Plato’s older sister – same idea but for grown-ups, who wear grown-up clothes. It’s over on Anderson Lane.
The Burnet stretch has an easy half-dozen consignment and gently used clothing stores. Top Drawer, Next to New, Second Time Around, Restyle, Designer Exchange and so forth are all pretty close together, seem to focus mostly on actual designers and are well curated (which can come at a premium). If you do trek to this area, hit the GW on Anderson, it’s tucked way behind the Taco Bell, past the stretch of furniture stores. It’s a newer store and I think they’re still finding their footing.
So many choices in this category, luckily they’re all in clusters.
North Loop has Ermine, Blue Velvet, Big Bertha’s andRoom Service which are all pretty mid-century.
South Lamar has several around Oltorf, but they seem to change faster than I can keep up with them. South 1st hasFlashback, Amelia’s Retro-Vouge and New Brohemia (men’s wear) among others, while SoCo has LeighLena,Feathers Boutique, and New Bohemia (woman’s).
The Eastside brings us Treasure City Thrift , Charm School Vintage and Elephas Maximus.
All of these are perfectly acceptable vintage haunts running the gamut of prices and styles. The best way to do these is to pick up one of the Vintage Around Town Guides brochures and using that as a map/guide. Pro tip: the guide will get you into the City-Wide Garage Sale.
One place of note, mostly because 99.9% of my outfits involve cowboy boots, (AND because I have enough pairs now and I don’t feel like I have to keep this place a secret any more) is Outlaw Boots on Burnet. Of all the places that stock vintage boots in town, they have the widest variety (both style and size) and some of the best prices if you need a pair of signature dancing shoes.
Time to get shopping!
Nichole shares her shopping tips:
– Preparing for the hunt
– Navigating the stores and clothing options
– At home – caring for your new digs