It doesn't matter which city we go to, the sentiment we hear from resellers is all the same: Denver is quite possibly the best city in America to thrift in. No cap. And according to a recent study, they're not wrong.
So ahead of our event on April 23rd, the team put our heads together to try and come up with a list. The best list. But if we put 'em all, it would be insane and unreadable, so we didn't do that. Instead, we whittled it down to some of our favorites.
FOR THE TRUE THRIFT SPOTS
[Mile High Flea Market / photo: Bradley White]
Mile High Flea Market
Located about 15 minutes northeast of downtown Denver on a light traffic kind of day, the long-standing Mile High Flea Market is a mainstay for local resellers and collectors. Not only is it open year round to over 2,500 individual sellers every weekend, it also boasts an open air fresh food marketplace, live music, rides for kids and plenty of food/drink options to kill an entire day with.
Some cities have none, Denver has three. The Goodwill Outlet Stores have become one of the most controversial of places to hunt for vintage and secondhand finds because of the Hunger Games style of shopping they inspire. If you’re not down to throw elbows while digging for clothing and housewares gold, you should probably sit these cheapies out.
Arc Thrift Stores
With over 30 locations in Colorado, the Arc Thrift Stores chain is easily the most stacked operation in the state with secondhand inventory. And unlike its competition who continue to try and raise prices gouging customers, Arc has managed to keep its prices in check appreciating value and consistency over profit.
This one’s kinda a no-brainer for any city, but for some reason — probably the weather and access to real yards — Denver just seems to have way more estate sales and garage sales than anywhere else. And with major cities like Colorado Springs, Boulder and Fort Collins well within driving distance there’s never a shortage of treasure to hunt for.
FOR THE CASUAL THRIFTERS
[The Common Collective / photo: Roxanna Carrasco]
The Common Collective
Stylist Tristan Bego and her partner Jenny Neal opened their inclusive vintage store back in June of 2021. As the name suggests, it’s a joint effort between local thrifters working together to provide the best in authentic finds. “The Common Collective Co. is a collective of small businesses, they are all local,” Bego once told 303 Magazine. "The meaning behind it is it’s a common collective … We are just bringing back what could have been — should have been — a common thing, but it’s not.”
Located deep in the heart of the Cap Hill neighborhood, Atomic Salvage describes itself as “a woman and queer owned vintage business” that began as a small online outlet that became successful enough to open its first brick and mortar in late 2021. It doesn’t focus solely on vintage clothing either, it coordinates a bunch of housewares, customs and artwork in the space too.
Show Pony Vintage
Much like others in the industry, Show Pony Vintage is a community-driven outlet that brings together over 20 micro-businesses to fill its racks. The ‘70s-themed interior has a huge floorspace too, complete with furniture, art, accessories and more. “We knew we wanted to have a lounge area in the middle because our goal here when we started was to make it feel like a community and not just a store for profit,” said store owner Emily Hawver when describing the shop to the DU Clarion.
Blue Haus Collective
South Broadway has long been a hunter’s haven in Denver, with several shops up and down the corridor to pop into. Blue Haus Collective though is one of ThriftCon’s favorites because of its attention to comfort and ease with the layout — along with an impeccable eye for the greatest vintage finds. Owners (and sisters) Mia and Savannah Wead know how it’s done.
After moving from its former location not far from where it is now, Fourth Place has found its stride in the ever-changing neighborhood known as the Golden Triangle. And in holding his store closer to the definition of “thrift” than others, owner Miah Richards maintains his prices will remain reasonable and accessible to all regardless of market trends.
Like Fourth Place, Strawberry Mountain is a shop that operates with intentions to keep prices as affordable as it can. On its site, the storefront describes itself as a “clothing resale store that caters to all eras as a source for self expression, current trends and sustainable shopping.” Look for items there based on current or recurring styles.
FOR THE VTG CONNOISSEURS
[photo: The Ten Penny Store Facebook]
The Ten Penny Store
Since 2017, family owned and operated The Ten Penny Store has been a carefully curated joint carrying unique finds from the mid-1900s all the way through the ‘90s. And it did so well in the popular area known as Antique Row, it was even able to open a second location in the quickly changing downtown area of Trinidad — kinda far from Denver, but, hey if you’re headed that way …
Big Sky Supply
After being inspired by a trip to Japan, Big Sky Supply owner Jason Farr found a way to incorporate a small retail area into the bustling Five Points neighborhood of Denver. You’ve got to look for it, but once you do it’s all worth it. Farr has a great knack for current trends but leaves enough room in his 500 square foot space to incorporate plenty more for serious collectors.
The Source Hotel is another one of those hybrid buildings cropping up everywhere that features a boutique hotel and market hall inside its walls. That’s where you can find Dane Frost’s Darklands, a heavily curated vintage spot with some of the best interior design in the city — complete with full barista bar, unisex clothing and a VW Beetle right there in the middle.
La Lovely Vintage
Tucked between plenty of other small business boutiques is La Lovely Vintage, a shop that offers up more than just rare vintage finds and secondhand fashion. It also has modern finds, jewelry, candles, paper goods and tons more. It’s easily one of the best places in the city to find the denim you’re looking for too, rare, expensive or otherwise.
[cover photo Dane Frost, Darklands]