Vail Valley’s consignment and thrift shops offer everything from ski equipment to designer bags
November 13, 2015
For some visitors, hitting up the Vail Valley's thrift and consignment circuit is part of the vacation experience, while local shoppers come back again and again for the thrill of finding that great item. Of course, it's also a great way to keep clothing out of landfills and reuse perfectly good items, often for a fraction of the original price.
"I find that in this day and age, secondhand shopping is getting more and more popular. We help people reduce waste and recycle clothing," said Jen Tracy Hooker, owner of Second Skin Boutique in Avon.
Maria Baca, who was visiting the Vail Valley from Los Angeles, said she makes a point to go to consignment and thrift stores when she travels.
"I love the fact that you get great items for good prices. I look for unique items in shops anywhere I travel because I know it's probably the only place I can buy it," she said. "I think my favorite find was a Fenton lamp that we bought at a secondhand store in Dallas. It's beautiful."
Read on for a roundup of the Vail Valley's secondhand shopping scene. It might feel like a small county, but there's no shortage of big treasures.
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◆ Holy Toledo
191 Main St., Minturn; http://holytoledo.co
Holy Toledo is owned by Heather and Eric Schultz and housed in an old church building — steeple and all — that was built in 1906. These days, the building maintains its historic feel, but the interior is packed full of high-end consignment wear.
Come to Holy Toledo if you want current fashions and high-end boutique brands such as Seven jeans, Anthropologie, Gucci and BCBG. You'll also find pre-owned furs and fashionable skiwear. The shop carries brand-new items from local boutiques and has a good range of menswear, as well.
"What makes us special is that we have pieces from all over the world," Heather Schultz said. "We have several thousand active consigners from around the globe, many who send us boxes of things throughout the year. We put out about 200 new pieces per day, on average, so the store is always changing. It's great for someone with boutique tastes but not a boutique budget."
◆ Ritzy Recalls
41131 U.S. Highway 6, Eagle-Vail; 970-845-7646
Ritzy Recalls, located on the far east end of Eagle-Vail by Pier 13 Liquors and Big-O Tires, is the longest-running secondhand shop in the Vail Valley. Owner Gail Kennedy opened the shop 26 years ago after noticing that there was a big niche to be filled in the ski town.
"Most shops here are fabulous, but unaffordable," she said. "It was always a dream of mine to open a consignment shop, so when I moved to the mountains from Denver, that's what I did."
Ritzy Recalls has an unassuming exterior, but don't be fooled. The shop carries high-end fashions, which includes everything from casual wear to party frocks and a small men's selection, as well. In the winter, Kennedy puts an emphasis on high-end skiwear. Its location less than 10 minutes west of downtown Vail makes Ritzy Recalls a convenient stop for visitors.
"People traveling for the season are a big part of my business. There are locals, too, but I don't think I would still be around if it weren't for visitors' business," Kennedy said.
◆ Second Skin Boutique
91 Beaver Creek Place, Unit 102, Avon; 970-470-4992
One of the newer additions to the valley's consignment scene, Second Skin is a partnership between Jen Tracy Hooker and her mother, Marcy Tracy, who runs a sewing business out of the shop. The compact space is chock full of consignment clothing, shoes and accessories for women, as well as some upcycled and Colorado-centric brands that sell brand new accessories such as hats and socks.
Unlike some other clothing consignment shops, Hooker doesn't limit her products to boutique brands or high-end products, meaning that you'll find everything from $10 H&M skirts to $2,800 Gucci jackets. What matters is that the piece is stylish and will sell, said Hooker.
The shop also accepts donations, where the consigner's part of the sale can be donated to a charity of their choice.
◆ Rouge Consignment Boutique
Riverwalk at Edwards; http://www.rouge-boutique.com
Joselyn Brubaker and Michelle Anderson started Rouge in Eagle in 2011, but the shop has since found a home in The Riverwalk at Edwards.
You'll find mostly women's clothing and a wide range of jewelry, shoes and purses. Prices will range from the high teens to a few hundred dollars, depending on the piece. Overall, you can expect to find 35 percent to 50 percent off retail prices. There's a small men's section and fashionable skiwear, as well.
"We really try to be like a boutique. People will come in and walk around, then ask, 'Are these used clothes?' They're always surprised. We really try to stay with current trends and offer good-quality clothes," Brubaker said.
With a constantly changing inventory, the shop has drawn both locals and visitors alike.
"We don't have a lot of shopping up here compared to bigger cities, so I like that at a consignment shop, you can find something that is one-of-a-kind," she said.
Rouge also supports a number of local nonprofits, so you can know that your fashion finds are also helping out good causes.
◆ Thrifty Shop
34510 U.S. Highway 6, Edwards; 1160 Chambers Ave., Eagle; http://www.vail valleycares.com
The Vail Valley Cares Thrifty Shop, with locations in both Edwards and Eagle, has a large selection of clothes and shoes, furniture, household items and, in the winter, ski and snowboard equipment.
There are certainly deals to be found, with regular markdowns the longer items stay on the rack. You can even try to bargain for items such as furniture and electronics. Overall, prices are lower than most other local secondhand stores (and the quality more variable), but don't expect rock-bottom, big-city thrift prices. As executive director Greg Osteen explains, the Thrifty Shop gets higher quality donations than most thrift shops, so the prices will reflect that. Also, about 15 percent of the profits made from the Thrifty Shop goes back to the community in the form of grants to nonprofits and scholarships to Colorado Mountain College students.
"Were not much more expensive than stores in Denver and other big cities, but high-quality items will get a higher price," Osteen said. "What we're trying to do is create revenue to give back to the community."
The other side of that scenario is that shoppers can feel good about their purchases, knowing that it goes to a variety of causes. Besides the grants and scholarships, the Thrifty spends about half its budget employing 26 local workers. In addition, it works with local nonprofits such as the Salvation Army to provide free shopping for individuals and families in need.
◆ The Find
233 Broadway, Eagle; thefindeagle.com
The Find is the newest addition to the secondhand scene, and the quiet location in downtown Eagle features clothing (mostly women's for now), accessories, sporting goods and home decor.
"We really do have everything, which is part of the name — The Find," said co-owner Carrie Cossette. "As far as sporting goods, we have backpacks, some tents … we kind of go with what rolls through the door."
Clothing goes for what Cossette calls "everyday prices," meaning that there are high-end items priced at $500, but also a good number of items that start at $10. Prices don't get marked down over time, so you don't have to play the waiting game if you see something you like.
"Personally, I've always loved consignment shopping. You never know what you're going to find," Cossette said. "I think Eagle really needed a consignment shop. We don't have a lot as far as retail goes, so it's great to add a stop to the few places we have."
◆ Eagle County Thrift Center
925 Greenway, Gypsum; http://www.face book.com/eaglecountythriftcenter
A relative newcomer to the county's thrift options, the Thrift Center populates its floor with finds from estate sales and other bargain buys. That's how owners Rudy and Mayra Trevizo are able to sell everything from snowblowers to vending machines to clothing for low prices.
"I've heard a lot of people who say 'thank you' for bringing thrift store prices to this town," Rudy Trevizo said. "I try to keep my costs down so my customers will be repeat customers."
Among the best deals are clothing, which ranges from 99 cents to $3.99 per pound. The weight system was developed based on demand from people wanting work clothes but who didn't want to spend $15 on a brand new shirt, said Rudy Trevizo.
You never know what will end up in the shop, as evidenced by the local antique sellers often scouring the floor for unique finds.
FURNITURE AND HOME
◆ The Nest
222 Chapel Place in Chapel Square, Avon; nestvail.com
This very large home consignment shop is a stop for mountain furniture and decor. Items get marked down over a couple months as they stay in the store, so many people play the waiting game to score great prices, but if you love it, you better buy it because it might be gone, said owner Patty Cuny.
"We try to keep the quality level from good to best in here," she said. "You'll find things like Ralph Lauren pieces and styles that range between traditional to contemporary mountain."
If you're looking for art, then The Nest should be one of your stops. The store carries some original art, including some current Carrie Fell paintings selling at a fraction of the original prices. Cuny also brings in some art from Denver vendors to help shoppers complete the mountain look.
◆ Treasures Quality Consignments
91 Beaver Creek Place, Avon; 56 Market St., Eagle; http://www.treasures qualityconsignments.com
A plush, well-broken-in couch. The 100-year-old wooden chest. Quaint Christmas decorations. You can find it all at Treasures, a furniture and home decor consignment shop that Lynne Schleper has owned since 1999.
The upvalley location features more custom furniture and art, often from second homes, while at the downvalley location, you're most likely to find kids and teens' furnishings. At either place, you can also pick up mid-priced furniture and bargain "projects" or repurpose an old piece with Schleper's cottage paint treatment. Basically, there's some of everything.
Typically, you can expect to buy items for a third to a fourth of what they cost new.
"We want to help people reuse, repurpose and recycle. We're always in search of new uses for old things," said Schleper, adding that consignment is a great deal for sellers, too. "A lot of what we get comes from gated communities, where the home was bought furnished, or people are leaving their place forever and don't want to ship anything. This is a great way for them to turn that into cash."
◆ The Home Outpost
150 Cooley Mesa Road, Gypsum; http://www.thehomeoutpost.com
Situated halfway between the Roaring Fork Valley and the Vail Valley, it's no surprise that the Home Outpost is chock full of some of the most luxurious collections from nearby homes.
Owner Margie Hamrick, who opened her doors in June, said that a walk around the Outpost is like a world shopping tour.
"We'll pick up an entire house full of items that took someone 40 to 50 years to put together, sometimes with items from across the world. I always say you can come in and go around the world in 45 minutes," she said.
Expect about 50 percent off retail prices, which Hamrick said is a much better purchase than brand-new furniture.
"Buying (new) furniture is not a good investment. Often it can lose up to 90 percent of its value once you put it in your home," she said. "Then it has to weather the storm and can slowly start gaining value again as they get older as vintage pieces."
Saturdays are sale days, with 20 percent to 50 percent off select items. Also, beginning Dec. 5, the store will hold auctions on the first Saturday of each month, in which they will auction off an entire collection. December's event goes from 4 to 8 p.m.
◆ Habitat Vail Valley Restore
751 Chambers Ave., Eagle; http://www.habitatvailvalley.org
The Habitat ReStore collects donated furniture, appliances and reusable building materials and resells them to the public at a discount.
All proceeds go to building affordable housing for local families in need. The store also prevents an estimated 300 tons of materials each year from ending up in the Eagle County landfill. If you're furnishing a home or looking for materials for a remodel — and we're talking lighting, paint and flooring, too — then the ReStore is worth checking out.
SKI AND SNOWBOARD GEAR
◆ Transition Sports
240 Chapel Place in Chapel Square, Avon; http://www.transition-sports.com
Tucked away in the back corner of Avon's main shopping drag, Transition Sports offers the area's only year-round outlet for consignment snowsports equipment. Owners Stafford Turner and Chuck Kraft sell an even combination of new and used alpine, snowboard and alpine touring gear, mostly dated from the past five years.
That means it's a great place to score a deal on a slightly older model of skis, or pick up your first-ever setup if you're just getting into the sport.
"We see a lot of people moving into town for the season who don't want to spend two grand to get on the hill," Kraft said. "The average ski setup is about $900, and in here, we rarely sell anything over $450."
The hottest items fall in the alpine touring category, but you'll find up to 50 percent off retail prices at Transition Sports, said Kraft. Check them out for accessories and ski clothing, as well.
◆ Vail Nordic Swap
Homestake Peak School, 600 Eagle Road, Eagle-Vail
It's a bit of a locals' secret, but the annual Nordic Swap is the place to find used alpine touring, cross-country skiing, telemark, snowshoe and backcountry gear. The Swap is in its 31st year and will be held on Dec. 5 at Homestake Peak School in Eagle-Vail from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with discount prices after noon.
Knowledgeable volunteers will help you find and try on gear, but it pays to know what you want and come early, as popular items such as skate skis and AT gear tend to go early. Your purchase will help others get on the snow, as well, with 10 percent of the sale price going to the Homestake Peak Nordic Program.
"In the age of Craigslist, Facebook classifieds and more, a physical congregation of gear and buyers still has a place," said organizer Dawes Wilson. "One can try on, compare and consider. An important part of the experience is our staff, who have done this Nordic Swap for years. We know the gear's quality, value and intended use."
For more information, find the Vail Nordic Swap event on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.