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Thrifting in Denton

Photo by Tammi Paul
Photo by Tammi Paul

Penny-pinching options for poor students

*Originally published in the Oct. 29 issue of The Lasso*

By: Emily Nickles, Page Editor

In my quest to explore the different dynamics among the local thrift stores, I’ve been able to pinpoint where the best places are to stop for household goods, bags, shoes, clothes, electronics, sheets and blankets, and miscellaneous items. Denton, as a thriving college town, offers plenty of different options to shop for discounted clothing and decently priced items for typical/daily uses. Not to mention the occasional vintage shops and antique mini malls located on or close to the The Square.

You can tell the difference between a thrift store that is run completely by volunteers and that which is run by (probably) poorly paid employees. The retail business has no glory, whether it be Goodwill or Forever 21; it always involves crazy sales, cuckoo customers and long hours. But the quality of the management doesn’t necessarily affect the services a store provides. Many of the donations that volunteer-run thrift shops utilize are just as good if not better than the mass donations that thrift stores like Goodwill or the Salvation Army uses.

Hopefully, the following list, hints and tips help guide you on your thrifting adventures in search of affordable products that won’t break your bank or rip holes in your pockets.

Denton Thrift: 

As it is named after the town, naturally Denton Thrift is the first place to start when looking for affordable goods. Denton Thrift has an open layout, with a significant lack of signs designating sections, but despite its failings it’s easy to navigate the rows of racks. The store is a little dingy, revealing the age of the building, but they make up for it with great sales every week on certain clothing, decent organization of goods and a mix-match array of interesting things.

I wouldn’t recommend getting shoes here, or really thrifting any shoes, unless you are certain of the condition they are in and do not fear anything toe nasty. However, Denton Thrift has a fantastic selection of winter coats and jackets for women, and unlike most thrift stores, a good 3-6 clothing racks half a football field long filled with men’s clothes, which is a rarity in thrift stores. The women’s section will typically offer more options than the men’s section, which is also the reason why flannels go so fast in thrift stores, so once you find one that fits — jump on it.

Overall, it’s not the best place to shop for bags, backpacks, housewares, sheets or electronics, but it does offer a fair selection of VHS’ and children’s DVDs and a small section of books. It’s worth perusing around the store. The great thing about thrifting is you never know what gem you might stumble upon while on a mission for something else. The greatest things in life are very often accidents, after all.

Twice as Nice Resale: 

Twice as Nice is located off The Square next to the TWU campus, despite its unassuming appearance and miniscule entrance, the store is actually quite large. This is one location that is manned completely by volunteers where the mission is to provide affordable products for families.

Twice as Nice is usually very tidy and the displays are always clean. There isn’t a large section for men’s clothing, but it’s a great place to look for books, CDs, DVDs, sewing and craft supplies, patterns, and housewares. The women’s and men’s section is perfect for discovering vintage pieces, especially suits for the men. As far as a thrift store goes, it’s a good place to visit if you’re looking for unique pieces to jazz up your wardrobe. The nice thing about thrift shops that are smaller and sell by donations is that it is easy to find pieces that go as far back as the ‘70s rather than get stuck with dingy outfits from the ‘90s with brands from Wal-Mart or Target. It all depends on preference, but I’d highly recommend Twice as Nice for decently priced vintage clothing.

Goodwill:

Located on West University Drive, Goodwill is a fair distance between UNT and TWU. I call West University the thrift strip, just because there are three stores, Friends of the Family Thrift Store, Denton Thrift and Goodwill on one side of the road. If you’re not paying attention to the street signs, especially with the current construction, you’ll miss it due to its flat exterior.

Despite the wide girth of the building, this Goodwill does not have as many options to sort through as do some of the larger Goodwill locations, like the one in Lewisville. I have yet to go to the one off of the freeway by Pennsylvania Drive, so that may be a better location to shop at as far as options.

Even though there’s less to choose from, this Goodwill has a lot of popular, contemporary brands that college students tend to like. For example, I’ve seen items from PacSun, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, Charlotte Rousse, Vans, and other similar brands at this store. Most of the clothes in the store range from the late ‘90s era to the present, so it might be more difficult to find truly unique vintage items if that’s the goal. I have noticed that many parents go to this Goodwill for kid’s clothes, they seem to have a plenty of products for children which is beneficial for families in the area.

Typically Goodwill prices lie in the higher range of similar stores, but when you weigh the pros against the cons — a store bought item versus a cheaper slightly less new store bought item — the price ends up being worth the extra penny.

 Thrift Giant:

This store, due to its recent opening, has the best of both worlds: the feel of an authentic thrift store and the advantage of being around a major retail location. So it’s clean, but it’s not what most people might expect it to be. I made the poor assumption of thinking that it was going to be backwash clothing from stores closing down or no longer selling certain items, but to my delight, when I walked in I felt like I was back in Lewisville travelling through the racks at Thrift City.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not everything a person can want in a store, but at least there are dressing rooms. There are so many clothes that you could go cross-eyed staring at all the racks. There isn’t a specific section for shoes, but their paired nicely above the racks of clothes so you can do double duty while shopping. There is a whole section for men’s clothing equal to the size of women’s clothing, which is a rarity for a thrift store, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some pretty decent items, contemporary or vintage, to find in the men’s section.

While it has great options for clothing, the store lacks a little in the housewares section, electronics, and books. But as with any thrifting adventure involving anything not related to clothing, it’s truly a hit or miss and trying several locations is always a good idea.

Circa77Vintage:

Photo by Tammi Paul
Photo by Tammi Paul

Circa77Vintage is not what I originally thought it to be. I had heard from some fellow students that it was a little thrift store near the square. It’s a thrift store, but in the truest sense it is a vintage shop. Because it is a vintage shop, with genuine vintage items being sold exclusively (much like an antique mall), the prices are more likely to be in an out-of-pocket range.

The owner of the store finds all of the pieces herself and sells them according to each era/time period. It is truly a unique and fun place to go into if you want a glimpse of fashion throughout history. Considering how rare some of the clothing and accessories may be, the price range is fair if you are able to find an item in decent condition. I will say, however, that some things belong in museums rather than in our closets, but that’s up to the individual to decide.

In addition to Circa’s wild trip through the past, people interested in certain outfits or time period wear can rent a dress or suit if a special occasion arises. Because Denton is a college town with lots of fun and lively themed parties, this is a great place to stop if you want to wow your friends with an authentic costume. Imagine renting a dress worn in the 1920s for your wedding — wouldn’t that be a money saver? I would do it.

Ruth’s Room:

If you’re just as unsure about the name “Ruth’s Room” as I am, no worries, it’s not completely Biblical like one might assume. The store was named after the founding director’s mother, Ruth Hodges when it first opened in 2000. All the proceeds they earn goes to benefit Habitat for Humanity of Denton County.

The store is neatly organized, easy to navigate and has a great selection of books and housewares. The men’s clothing is minimal, and the women’s clothing options are slim, but there are some decent pieces in good condition. There is also a section dedicated to children’s items which is helpful when trying to look for clothes or toys with a kid in haul.

The nice thing about organizations that run on local donations is that new donations are coming in consistently every week, and Ruth’s Room offers to pick up bigger items like furniture, so there is more of a likelihood for there to be larger household items. There is a continual influx of new stuffs, and that means each week there will be a different selection of items. If you can’t find something one week, try the next week, because you never know what could change in the span of a few days. Hence why many locals go in several times a week and are known to the employees by name.

Denton Friends of the Family Thrift Shop:

It may look a little chaotic when you first walk in, and it probably will remain so as you peruse the store, but Denton Friends of the Family Thrift Shop is the perfect place for finding random things.

Everything about this store is about change — clothes are being switched out according to season, and items that have been on the racks and shelves for a while get replaced. When the volunteers go through donations, anything that appears to be grotty, dingy, moth-eaten or tacky gets thrown into a bag to be donated elsewhere. Only the best gets a seat on the floor.

They have everything from records, DVDs, tapes, books, furniture and clothing. The best organized section of the store is the kids section, which is separated from the rest of the store. There are books and toys separated in the room and clothing designated by sizing and age of the child. The price range is very much like Goodwill on the scale of thrift store prices, but Denton Friends of the Family generally puts out the products in the best condition, no squandering.

All their proceeds from customers go to their organization which helps victims of sexual assault and abuse, as well as family violence. They offer counseling for free to victims, and I get the feeling much of their income for the organization comes from the shop. So if you feel guilty about buying something you don’t need, just pat yourself on the back and tell yourself you’re doing a good thing.

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