Why pay full price when you have next-to-new Austin fashion at your fingertips? Thrift shopping is nearly as ubiquitous to Austin as live music and food trucks, but it can be hard to get your foot in the thrifting door.
No need to fear: we've got a complete guide to the smorgasbord of Austin thrift shops right here.
Best bang for your buck
Goodwill Bins, 6505 Burleson Rd.
If you're pinched for cash or looking for adventure, head to the Goodwill bins for the cheapest options on the market. At $1.49 a pound, it's easy to walk away with 10 or more items for less than $10. This is where the unselected items at Goodwill stores lay to rest, so there can be slim pickings. But that makes it that much sweeter when you find a designer item, tag intact. Come ready to be assertive—each time new bins are brought out, it's prime real estate, and a crowd quickly gathers around the new picks.
Thrift Land, 512 W. Stassney Ln., Ste. 107A
For anything from 99-cent T-shirts to brand-new designer leather pants, head to Thrift Land in South Austin. The store has been around since 1985 and has a huge variety of men's and women's clothing, home decor and even books and furniture. Every section is color-coded, so come with a desired color scheme in mind. Bring cash as well—the store is cash-only, but there is an ATM inside just in case you forget.
Thrift land is packed with outfits for activities from business meetings to a girl's night out. (Claire Partain/Austonia)
Thrift Town, 5726 Menchaca Rd.
Thrift Town shares a strip with a Goodwill, but the store consistently brings better style and lower prices to the table. Thrift Town's slightly trendier cousin, Thrift Land, is also conveniently located nearby in South Austin. There aren't as many home furnishings as Thrift Land, but they more than make up for it with with mannequins serving as style inspo above the aisles and plenty of business-casual clothing appropriate for any workplace meeting.
Thrift Town employees regularly outfit mannequins with their favorite picks. (Thrift Town/ Facebook)
Salvation Army, 4216 S. Congress Ave.
While you can find nearly anything at Salvation Army, which is famous for its half-off days, you can find high-quality used furniture—and a healthy selection of it—without breaking out the piggy bank. Plus, if you need to rid yourself of extra furniture, the Salvation Army will come to pick up items directly from your house so you can spare yourself the sweat. Donations and support go to those in need—the non-profit organization donates 82 cents on every dollar to services that help the less fortunate. While the Salvation Army does not help move furniture to homes, several services like Easymove and Dolly will help you get it where it needs to go.
Far Out Home Furnishings, 1500 W. Ben White Blvd.
This vintage, upcycled and knick-knack emporium is so filled with upcycled goodies and eclectic art pieces that they have a dedicated "Funkyard" to house it all. This garage-sale-like thrift shop carries used fashion, indoor and outdoor furniture, musical instruments, jewelry, frames and whatever else your heart desires, so long as you have the stamina to find it. The store offers an online tour and regularly updates its inventory, so you'll have an idea of what's in store before you head over.
Pavement Austin, 611 S. Lamar Blvd.
Flaunting a colorful exterior to match the sprawling, eccentric interior, Pavement has a carefully curated selection of clothing for the modern fashionista. Filled with a mixture of new, used and vintage fashion and accessories, Pavement caters to all aesthetics at both of its Austin locations. With clothes for all bodies, Pavement sets itself apart by hand-selecting the items it puts on the sales floor instead of relying on brand or release year, so you will likely find something for everyone.
Flamingo Vintage Pound, 2915 Guadelupe St.
Flamingo is the cutting-edge of thrift fashion, but don't take our word for it: influencer and former Texas State student Wisdom Kaye, who has racked up 6 million TikTok followers for his keen fashion sense, has been known to frequent it. Inside is a hodgepodge of eccentric Austin fashion. Find vintage Harley Davidson tees or funky bell-bottom pants in the store's curated sections. Come here looking for discounted fashion-forward items instead of extra-low prices. Flamingo is significantly more pricey than the Goodwill bins, but it still follows a discounted pay-by-the-pound model.
St. Vincent de Paul, 901 West Braker Ln.
An Austin favorite, this donation-based store known simply as "Vinny's" comes with all the trappings of a Goodwill or Salvation Army but with a more curated selection. Look for trendy clothing, wood furniture or eclectic jewelry at this North Austin thrift shop.
Passport Vintage, 2217 S. 1st St.
Looking for quality vintage denim? With over 20,000 Instagram followers, Passport Vintage has established itself as a vital storefront for tasteful shoppers. It's not the cheapest, however—come here if you're willing to pay near-new prices for authentic vintage items. Aside from its Instagram, the store also has a website and a brick-and-mortar store open seven days a week.
Ballin' on a budget
Uptown Cheapskate, 3005B S. Lamar Blvd.
If you love name-brand clothing but don't love draining your bank account, Uptown Cheapskate is the place to shop. The store has brought upcycling to the mainstream by buying and selling clothes brought in by customers, meaning you can shop for less and even make a quick buck while you're there. Clothes are chosen with a few criteria in mind: brand, date they were released and condition, so you may not sell everything you bring in, but you will walk out with something that was on boutique racks just a few months before.
Plato's Closet, 5400 Brodie Ln., Ste. 240
Fulfill your Instagram influencer fantasies without breaking the bank at Plato's Closet, the classic name-brand thrift store chain. It doesn't take much sifting to find Lululemon, Zara, Madewell and even high-fashion designer items within the curated store. Come with a bag of your old clothes, too, if you trust your fashion sense—they'll give you a couple bucks for whatever they like from your wardrobe.
Buffalo Exchange, 2904 Guadelupe St.
Buffalo Exchange has a reputation that precedes it as the premier designer thrift destination. Located just across the street from Flamingo, Buffalo Exchange is stocked with items straight from the closets of trendy University of Texas students living nearby. Grab an entire Gen Z outfit—from flame-shaped sunglasses to embroidered cowboy boots—and have change to spare. In our experience, the pants section has some of the best quality items on the thrifting market.
Uncommon Objects, 1602 Fortview Rd.
Uncommon Objects doesn't sell clothes, but it does sell used items from yesteryear. Down the eerie, cluttered aisles, you're likely to find old objects that confuse, delight, inspire and fright, but seeing that every item is used, it is thrifting in its own right. There's no true way to know what you'll find in the self-proclaimed "antiques Mecca" but a few staples include dolls, paintings, statues, skeletons, photos and old appliances. Whatever you take home, it will probably be older than you.
Supporting a good cause
Austin Pets Alive!, 1156 W. Cesar Chavez St. (multiple locations)
With three locations across Austin, all net proceeds go to the puppy-loving, no-kill Austin Pets Alive! Shelter. The boutique-style thrifts are a great place to find clothes for everybody, and you can donate your old items to help animals. Plus, if you're an APA! foster parent, you can enjoy 20% off every time you shop.
Treasure City Thrift, 2142 E. 7th St.
With the motto "solidarity not charity," Treasure City Thrift is a Black-owned shop that claims to be "the most affordable thrift store in Austin." The shop prides itself on educating the public on zero waste practices, inspiring art and creativity, making needed goods available for people who need them most and making monthly donations to the Really Really Free Market. You're likely to see a pop-up market outside the brightly-painted pink building when you visit and you might just catch the monthly 25-cent sale.
For the fashion challenged
Thrifted Feels ATX, 12700 Hill Country Blvd., Ste. G-125
Do you struggle to put together something fashionable in the morning? Ever wish you could just have someone do your shopping for you? Thrifted Feels ATX would love to be that personal shopper for you. A tried and true shopaholic, owner Dominique Kirven resells clothes that fit her personal aesthetic so you can fake it until you make it. She describes her style as nature-inspired with Earthy tones and textures, though there is always room for a little statement. You know what they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
Feathers Boutique Vintage, 1700B S. Congress Ave.
This vintage consignment shop has a brick-and-mortar storefront, but it's also got a fully-functional site and ships its items around the world. Since 2005, the shop has curated quality vintage items with an extra Austin flair. From bandanas and scarves to quality jeans, Feathers has a little bit of something for everyone.
Elephant Paths, Depop and Instagram pop-ups
More shoppers than ever are using their thrift expertise to create their own curated online shops. If you don't have the free time to head to your favorite shop, head to Instagram or Depop for pop-up thrift shops galore, including Elephant Paths, one of Austin's newest online stores. Austinite Aysia Jackson resells her favorite thrifted items for exceptionally low prices. Check her site for colorful jackets and blazers, go-to skirts and more as she continues to build up her inventory.
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There is a fearless declaration of the obvious in “Being Texan: Essays, Recipes, and Advice for the Lone Star Way of Life,” a book that invites its readers to recall the power and panache of the late Texas Gov. Anne Richards, before getting schooled on no less than twenty types of taco.
Released this month, “Being Texan” is the first of several Texas Monthly titles to come in the build-up to the magazine's upcoming 50th anniversary in 2023. It is divided into four sections: Identity & Culture, Town & Country, Arts & Entertainment and Food & Drink.
In the introduction, titled “What Does it Mean to Be Texan?,” Texas Monthly editor Dan Goodgame addressed the eclectic aspirations of the book, writing: “Our modest goal was to craft a well-informed, thoughtful sampling of the best the state has to offer.” To this humble end, forty-two editors were utilized to cover fifty-five topics, which tackle everything from the various dress codes that make up “Texas chic” to Selena’s ongoing appeal.
The resulting richness is all over the map, running from Texas Monthly Senior Editor John Nova Lomax’s frustration over the frequent mispronunciations of Texas cities (“From Amarila to Wad-a-loop”) to Oscar Casares’s bittersweet essay on Dia de Los Muertos in the time of COVID (“Souls of the Departed”).
The book goes from silly to serious fast, and the pace might unseat some readers who would otherwise just enjoy the ride of pride that comes from being reminded that Texas gave the world Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos, Dr. Pepper, Liquid Paper and the microchip.
So, in a book that switches from the state’s early instance on remaining a slave republic to a piece about collecting San Antonio ghost stories, it perhaps goes without saying that the essays on brisket and beer are the easiest to digest.
“Being Texan” does, in truth, contain some delicious and downright literary food writing.
Joe Galvan’s “Ode to the Raspa,” treats the summertime shaved ice staple as nothing less than a kind of edible ambassador of U.S. cuisine. “They serve as an important and necessary reminder of the fluctuating, imprecise words that American food inhabits,” he writes like some semiotics professor, before waxing poetic on how raspas embody childhood innocence as well as “the humidity of a July evening that finds itself at the bottom of a Styrofoam cup.”
But readers who are tempted to skim the section on “Strong Texas Women” or “The Evolution of Juneteenth” to get to Paula Forbes’ warning not to skip the processed cheese when slow cooking queso, will have missed out on some deep insight into what it means to embrace all the appealing and uneasy aspects of the state.
In “A Tale of Two High Schools,” Dan Q. Dao, details how, as a Vietnamese kid growing up in Houston, he employed the tropes of Texas culture as a tool of survival. “Perhaps out of a sense of self-preservation, I became enamored with the gilded mythology of Texas, from the folklore of the Alamo to the twang of country music. I wore cowboy boots, showed up for Friday night football games, and rarely missed a rodeo,” writes Dao, observing that: “Part of me believed that if I proclaimed my Texanness loudly enough, I would be spared the label of outsider.”
The dilemma of the homegrown Texas outsider is artfully explored in Skip Hollandsworth’s “Why McMurtry Matter,'' a meditation on the ironic popularity of Larry McMurtry, a writer who wrestled with his relationship to Texas--particularly the Hollywood myths and misconceptions that surrounded the state. Speaking about (to his mind) the perplexing success of “Lonesome Dove,” McMurtry said: “All I had wanted to do was write a novel that demythologized the West. Instead, it became the chief source of western mythology. Some things you cannot explain.”
There is much about Texas itself that seems hard to explain.
But David Courtney, a senior editor at Texas Monthly, does a good job of speculating on this rare amalgam of conservative pride and fearless experimentation that tends to run through the state, when he writes “Texans believe they possess something deep within themselves that sets them apart, and therefore they kind of do.”
Despite the surface-level accessibility of a book that addresses the cultural significance of Neiman Marcus and the extreme brand loyalty to Whataburger, “Being Texan” offers rare input regarding Texas and its citizenry, as well as handy advice for breaking in a pair of cowboy boots.
'Not a band, an experience': Musician Pete Monfre pushes the boundaries of making it in the music industry
In a city where live music is heralded above all else, Pete Monfre was surprised to find local musicians working for free that he quit the industry for 10 years in 2006.
Local musicians tended to be underpaid before COVID-19 sent the music industry reeling, but the fallout from the pandemic exasperated the existing problems. Musician and marketer Monfre knows—he’s been behind that shaking tip jar, trying to turn a profit while doing what he loves. He’s tackling the problem with a unique brand of live shows, which go against the grain, mix business with pleasure and help bring home the bacon.
The shows, called Stories from the Road, are an informal storytelling jam session at The Saxon Pub that encourages interaction between the artist and audience.
After a brief hiatus due to ongoing woes of the pandemic Stories from the Road came back to The Saxon Pub on Saturday. It was the first of 23 consecutive shows that didn’t sell out, which Monfre attributes to the break of not having shows.
“We called it Stories from the Road—not a band, an experience,” Monfre said. “We're not going to rehearse, we're not going to have a list, we're not going to prepare, every show is a one-off and you will never see it again.”
His shows start early at 6 p.m., with a rotating group of musicians playing blues or Americana who need not rehearse. This time it featured Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff on saxophone and harmonica, bassist Mark Epstein, drummer Kevin Hall and Adam Pryor on Hammond Organ.
You’ll probably end up spending a bit more than the typical show at the Saxon Pub, around $30 per person, but each show goes directly to supporting the artists that made it.
“Part of the mission was to advocate for fair wages for musicians and to help musicians understand their economic value,” Monfre said. “Now I can afford to pay musicians a modest guarantee and we call that the Fair Play approach to live music.”
Monfre moved to Austin as a young adult with the intention of “conquering the music industry” in 1981, which he told Austonia he did not do but did meet “a lot of interesting people.” He left Austin to tour for a few years, then moved to Milwaukee, where he continued to play music.
After returning to Austin in 2006, Monfre discovered some musicians were playing shows for free.
“I'm playing in Chicago and Michigan and hardcore blues places, and we don't play for free,” Monfre said. “So I actually quit for 10 years. There is no reason to play for free whatsoever if you just get the model right.”
Having already tried to conquer the music industry once, Monfre took a business-forward approach the second time. The model also caters to what he believes is an underserved group: working professionals who want to meet like-minded individuals but also be home by 9 p.m.
Chief Technology Officer for Economic Transformation Technologies David Smith, who has been coming to other Monfre shows since they started in 2016, said he enjoys the improvisational nature of the shows because it reminds him of old Austin.
“The Stories from the Road get back to the root of what music is: the fact that you can sit and jam, make music with musicians because they understand music, and that's the soul of Austin,” Smith said. “It really is a celebration of music.”
Monfre said the informality is what makes his shows so popular—you’ll hear the musicians ask the key for a song, take a request from the crowd, make a lighthearted jab at one another or create a song from scratch.
“They want to see the sausage being made, it's really funny I would have never thought it,” Monfre said.
Price (right) said he was happy the show ended early so he could make it home to Lampasas. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
“I am knocked out. It just really didn't get any better than what we just had—this band was so good, the crowd was so good,” Price said. “That's what Austin in the ‘60s and ‘70s was all about, just everybody throwing it together.”
Stories from the Road is returning to The Saxon Pub stage on Dec. 18, with a completely new group of musicians. The show, like always, will start at 6 p.m.
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The holiday season is upon us, so get ready to celebrate with carols, snacks and light shows galore. Austin is full of holiday festivities spanning throughout all of December so get out and enjoy the cool weather while it lasts.
Don't miss these nine holiday-themed light shows.
Austin's most famous annual light show and a Readers Choice of USA Today's 10 Best Public Displays of Holiday Lights, the Trail of Lights will be drive-thru again this year Nov. 27-Dec. 31. For 57 years in a row, the Trail of Lights has lit up Zilker Park with games, food, local vendors and more than two million lights gleaming for the holidays. The event, as always, is free to the public and you can reserve slots here. The Zilker Tree is already up, so you can already see it if the holiday cheer is too much to bear.
Coming back for the second year in a row, Peppermint Parkway will transport you to COTALAND, where six million lights gleam and Christmas is just a one-mile drive away. The hybrid event will have you drive through the display of lights, dancing elves and unique little villages before you hit the walking plaza, where you can grab a bite to eat and meet Santa. Tickets range from $40-$95, some including a lap around the COTA track, running from Nov. 26-Dec. 26.
Dreamland Dripping Springs has been transformed into a winter wonderland—running throughout the month of December, the venue's first-ever holiday display is taking over with activities for the whole family. Plus, running from Nov. 20-Jan. 4, a pop-up ice skating rink will really bring the holiday cheer for $10 or $5 Monday specials. The lights display will feature half a million lights and warm, festive sips from the taproom.
With events galore for the holiday season, winter is really when the Hill Country Galleria thrives. Starting with its Light Up The Plaza event on Saturday from 6-8 p.m., where visitors can see Santa, gaze at the official lighting of the holiday tree and hear some live tunes from rock band American Authors. The Galleria will also hold a holiday market every Thursday, Friday and Saturday leading up to Christmas Eve and periodic photos with Santa at Buenos Aires Cafe.
Deck the Halls at the Driskill Hotel
(Courtesy of the Driskill Hotel)
This holiday season, the Driskill will deck out every nook and cranny of the historic hotel from the grand staircase to the 16-foot Christmas tree in the lobby to be lit on a Dec. 1 ceremony that will be open to the public. Touches of Driskill festivities can also be seen at Dell Children's Hospital with a gingerbread village for its annual "Cookies for Caring" event.
Kicking off the lighting of the tree on Saturday, Dec. 4, Austinites will gather on the steps of the Texas Capitol at 6 p.m. to sing the 45-foot tree to life. Afterward, local band Los Coast will close out the night with a free concert. The fun doesn't stop there though as the Downtown Austin Alliance will host the Downtown Holiday Stroll, with "holiday passports" and stamps to collect for local restaurants and stores, and a Frida Friday Holiday Market at Republic Square.
Combining festive holiday lights and the beautiful native plants of Central Texas, Luminations at the Wildflower Center is back with thousands of lights, luminarias and a lit-up look at Fortlandia. This year will also feature an interactive light maze called "silvana" by Ben Busche of architecture firm Brut Deluxe, which will be the maze's first appearance in North America. The event will run Thursdays-Sundays from Dec. 2-Jan. 30 for $10-$25 per person.
Reserved tables are back for Mozart's Coffee Roasters annual Christmas Lights Show for $20 four-person tables and $30 six-person tables—so get your tickets early because these tables are likely to sell out. The light show will also feature a festival-style Bavarian marketplace for those last-minute gifts. If you're too late to reserve a table, don't worry, there will be standing room available for free so come one, come all, and come early for parking.
From Dec. 2-4, Old Settlers Park will light up with holiday displays, family activities, festive refreshments and live music. Watch the balloons hover above the lake as you sip on a hot chocolate or give to those in need, with stands for Round Rock Operation Blue Santa, which is taking toys for kids in need, the Play For All Foundation, which is accepting cash donations for disabled children, and the People & Parks Foundation, accepting cash donations for green space in the community. Admission to the event is free, along with most of the activities in the park.
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