Wearing the Past: Thrift Junkie Vintage

Written by Mary Feser

Imagine the Arc. Then imagine the  Arc twenty times smaller and a hundred times cuter, and you will get Thrift Junkie Vintage. Located at 522 N Tejon St, Thrift Junkie Vintage is owned and operated by Lauren Salant. The store sells women’s vintage clothing primarily from the 1950s to 1970s, and all the pieces are carefully curated and free from rips, tears, stains, and missing buttons. Salant’s goal is to create an environmentally friendly shopping option while offering beautiful and unique clothes from the past. Thrift Junkie Vintage started in a suitcase that now sits in front of the cash register in the small but welcoming store. While living in California, Salant used that suitcase to carry her handmade jewelry, scarves, and vintage knickknacks to the local farmers’ market.

Then, six years ago, the business evolved into Thrift Junkie Mobile, a renovated 1962 camper with a full dressing room that Salant took to farmer’s markets, crafts fairs, and coffee shops around Colorado Springs. Last June, Salant opened up her permanent shop down the street from CC. According to Salant, one of the biggest advantages of buying vintage is its environmental impact. “The entire premise behind the shop is to lower your carbon footprint and create a conscious closet. You’re preventing these beautiful, well-made items from the past from going in landfills, which is what happens when they’re donated to places like Goodwill and other large thrift stores [and fail to be sold],” Salant said.

The store itself is a testament to Salant’s commitment to lowering her environmental impact; the hangers and mannequins were sourced from department stores that closed, and the furniture is mostly from other thrift stores. The décor, including a hand painted banner and a dreamcatcher made of vintage fabric, is handmade by Salant and gives the store an authentic DIY feel.

Besides lowering its environmental impact, what are some other advantages of buying real vintage? Salant claimed there are many. First, no one else in town will have the same piece. Since Salant sources clothing from many different locations, “you can have the pride of knowing that not only do you have an item that’s fifty years old [and is] super rare, it’s also from across the country.”  Additionally, each piece has its own history. Salant primarily sources the clothes from estate sales so she “can purchase from the original owners, and that way I can hear the original story from the people who owned it.” Each piece has been valued and carefully kept over the years.

A look into Thrift Junkie. Photo by Emily McBride
A look into Thrift Junkie. Photo by Emily McBride

The uniqueness of the clothing is not the only draw to vintage shopping. In addition, many of the pieces are more flattering and fitted since they weren’t mass produced.  When a company is going to mass produce a shirt, Salant explained, “[the designers] have to think ‘I’m creating billions of this one shirt, so I need it to fit billions of different people’. They make [the clothing] a little bit more like a box versus with overlaying fabrics that complement a person’s body.” Vintage clothes, on the other hand, are made in cuts and with fabrics that complement the female form.

The fact that the store is just a few blocks from the CC campus is not an accident. A college student, she said, is “really in that space of discovering who they are and their place in the world around them and that is what my shop is all about. Instead of going to a large chain store…here you can come into the shop and find the exact piece that speaks to you and helps you express yourself to the community around you and be an original.” In keeping with her focus on students, Salant will be offering a 10% student discount on the presentation of a student ID throughout September and October. She also has a “Frequent Shopper Card” that gives an additional twenty percent off after a select number of purchases.

Jin Mei McMahon

Jin Mei McMahon

Sophomore double major in Creative Writing: Fiction and Organismal Biology and Ecology.
Jin Mei McMahon

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