Editor’s note: This week, we gave Briana Zamora-Nipper, a digital community producer at KPRC 2, the toughest assignment of her career: browsing for bargains at Houston’s buzzy new thrifting establishment, Vntg Sply. Satisfied silly after a successful shopping spree, she filed this report.
An exhausting, exhilarating second hand shopping expedition
An hour in at Vntg Sply and I was thoroughly exhausted. Around me in a warehouse space that used to house an event center, dozens of customers vigorously pawed at mounds of clothes, pausing intermittently to chuck quality finds into plastic sacks, before resuming their frenzied search. Like-new leather vests, worn T-shirts, perfectly faded jeans, Western-style button-ups, you name it. It was like a scene from “Hoarders,” or “American Pickers,” or “Storage Wars.” The atmosphere was charged, the shoppers, focused, their movements frenetic.
Some shoppers picked gingerly through the clothes, hoping to find something they didn’t know they were looking for. Others tore through the bins trying to survey the store’s stock at a breakneck pace, seemingly in search of something specific.
And there I was, amid the chaos, arms shaking, sack dragging, moved to root around in stack upon stack of clothing, desperately seeking the dopamine hit that accompanies a good find at a good price. After rummaging through what must’ve been hundreds of rejects, I worried I might leave the thrift store empty-handed, and then POW!, a moment of benevolence. Snuggled amid shirts with blocky stripes and Hawaiian patterns was a Levi’s jacket sure to make my Gen Z sister salivate. It was lightweight, ideal for Houston fall, and it was in immaculate condition, no signs of wear whatsoever. I squealed and slipped it into my sack.
It was an incredible find, and ostensibly, it was the reason one would spend an hour or more at Vntg Sply, which opened on Richmond Avenue in mid-June.
Oh-so-many what-ifs and if-onlys
Many of the bins at Vntg Sply, of which there were over 40, invited interrogation. Though the clusters of clothes they contained were so tightly packed they looked impenetrable, a gorgeous sleeve here, or a promising pattern there, compelled me to churn through the packed piles.
Dozens of pieces almost worked, but presented compromises I couldn’t quite make. I could hardly bear to part with a nearly-new sunshine yellow J. Crew button-up shirt. Tragically, it was much too large – a problem I encountered again and again. Even when optimistically shopping, it was tough at times to sustain excitement when a majority of the items I came across were simply too large to consider. During my shopping spree, I don’t believe I came across a single size small shirt. That said, I’m a fan of the oversized fit and snagged two medium Ralph Lauren button-ups perfect for layering.
Another deficit I’d like to address, however briefly: the absence of dresses and skirts -- major women’s wardrobe staples.
A serendipitous stock
Early in my thrifting spree, to amuse myself, I played a little game. I’d close my eyes, thrust my arm deep into a bin, latch onto a random piece and pull. The results varied wildly: A black Dickies button-up, a lime green bustier, and a fur-lined leather vest.
Scroll below for a virtual spin through the store.
After an honorable effort, I make my exit
Ninety minutes in, I called it quits. Entirely discombobulated and convinced I’d plundered through and pondered pieces from nearly every pile, I eyed the exit longingly and made a beeline for the register. There, I proudly placed my sack on a scale, curious to see how much I’d have to spend to take away my treasures (At Vntg Sply, pieces are priced by the pound). My items, a jacket and two button-ups, weighed in at three pounds, for a grand total of $30. I walked away satisfied, swinging my sack of staple pieces, a swagger in my step.
What to know before you go
Vntg Sply, 5524 Richmond Avenue (Between Chimeny Rock and Sage Roads); (832) 491-4165.
THE SETUP The clothes (sourced from local textile recycling facilities), namely T-shirts, button-ups, sweatshirts, coats, jeans, and shorts, are arranged in bins by type but not by size or gender, favoring density and volume at the expense of easy, breezy browsing. Stalk Vntg Spply on social media for frequent restock announcements.
THE CROWD Discount-digging label hounds (yours truly, included) in search of staples and special vintage pieces to round out weekday wardrobes. Among the brands seen repeatedly on my recent shopping spree were Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, Levi’s, Hollister, Wrangler, Dickies, Carhartt, The North Face, and Columbia.
THE COST The stocks sells for $10 per pound, something to take into account if you plan to purchase jackets, jeans, or other heavy pieces.
Do you like to thrift? Where is the best thrifting in your area? What finds are you most proud of? Tell us in the comments and we could visit one of your favorites.