Treasure hunting in thrift shops for unique value and priceless memories


EL PASO — I have found amazing valuables while thrift shopping that will probably remain with me forever. Some of those have been a vintage monogram Louis Vuitton tote from The Label Exchange, another time I found a classic empire waist dress from Vintage Mode, and I found an awesome flower print clutch when I stumbled into a garage sale in Tokyo once. These are the items I treasure the most. The ones I find while traveling because they also bring fun memories along.

I think I started thrift shopping when I was 12 or 13. At the time I don’t think it was the cool thing to do because during this age your peers begin to notice whether your shoes are really Adidas and not the knockoffs with two or four stripes, or whether you are wearing the designer jeans or t-shirts with the brands going across them that are what is “in” to wear, but I loved it because although what I found had been used once, to me it was new and not old-fashioned. It was stylish and unique, and it was vintage.

Of course I also bought new clothing, in fact most of my clothing was new or had been new, and I kept the whole thrift shopping somewhat secret, but there were a few special pieces I found at thrift stores that didn’t scream “thrifted” and I knew no one else would have.

Ragz to Riches thrift consignment shop. (Natalia Aguilar/

Ragz to Riches thrift consignment shop. (Natalia Aguilar/

I still continue to do my regular thrift shopping and now I am proud to say that I love to thrift shop. I freed myself from caring about what my peers thought and now it is one of the things I enjoy most. I see it as a way of recycling clothing and accessories that make somebody else’s trash another’s treasure. And not to mention the prices, which 98 % of the time are less than $20. Also, often times the clothing not sold over a period of time is donated. “What we don’t sell we donate to centers against family violence,” said Ragz to Riches owner, Zujeiy Chapel.

I love finding garments or accessories that actually are from a past life. That is the main reason for why I like to thrift shop. Maybe a 1920s embellished clutch or a 1940s Christian Dior “New Look” jacket. Items like these I can always incorporate into my wardrobe to make an outfit a bit more sophisticated or to make it more individual and unique.

There are times in which I don’t find exactly what I am looking for, but most likely I find something else that I love and that I know I will be using.  It’s safe to say that going vintage shopping always puts me in a good mood.

I don’t always shop at any thrift shop though, I personally prefer the smaller, local boutiques because I feel like sometimes these shops are more strict on the clothing they receive, meaning most of it is gently worn or perhaps even new. Some of my personal favorites around town are The Label Exchange, Vintage Mode, Max Mina consignments, and Ragz to Riches.

“I can say once the economy started going down, the big buzz was consignment and people realized they could get more for their money. I noticed people were curious and they find that one item and they are hooked,” said Label Exchange owner, Liz Saucedo.

It is not always easy to find vintage designer pieces, but in a high-end consignment, like some of these shops, many of the items are designer pieces that were barely used or not used at all, and the best part is that you pay less than one third of the actual cost. If you are lucky you can find some real treasures. “We mostly try to carry name brand items,” said Ragz to Riches owner, Chapel.

While shopping I notice that other shoppers are also into finding vintage clothing. “I like to shop here because I like buying old clothes that have really good quality,” said a fellow shopper. I guess it has to do with just once finding that one perfect item, and then you are in it for life.

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