BuRo: The original thrift conglomerate

Capital City Cheapo
photo / Kristin Hillery Poodle Dog Lounge on Burnet 

Although it is mispronounced with a vigor that hasn’t been matched since Dan Quayle passionately insisted that potato was spelled with an “e,” Burnet Road is as integral to Austin as Tex-Mex, Pecan Street, and strange people. (For the record, it’s Burn-it if you’re a local and Burn-ette if you’re not from ’round these parts.) Long before SoCo, SoFi, and SoLa (Sound of Music sing-along anyone?) lived the less rhythmic Burnet Road. With a mixed bag of thrift, vintage, secondhand, consignment, resale, antique, and collectible, the road to penny-pinching consumerism begins here. And so I invite you to grab a coffee at Upper Crust Bakery and head on down Burnet to indulge at the original headquarters of discount, cheapo charm, and unrivaled quirk.

photo / Kristin Hillery 

Happy trails begin at the intersection of Anderson and Burnet with a stop at It’s New To Me. The friendly secondhand store offers high-end furniture at affordable prices, making it easy to decorate your boudoir on a budget. Same concept, different address at Austin Home Collection. Both of these retailers buy furniture. Load up the parents’ living room set and get yourself some cash!

A half-mile south of It’s New To Me is the Burnet Road newbie Restyle. Opened in 2006, this women’s clothing consignor stocks seasonal trends and designer inventory that have been hand-selected by the owner. Restyle won’t sell you anything over two years out of fashion, so unless you are BFF with the Hiltons, no one is going to yank the tag from your sweater and say, “Umm, yeah. Gap. Winter Collection. 1998.”

For a change of pace, explore the airy showroom at Antique Marketplace (452-1000). The warehouse-style arsenal of inexpensive relics is reminiscent of a very organized estate sale (but less creepy, since no one is bidding on dead people’s jewelry).

No bargain-hunting spree on Burnet would be complete without a stop at the beloved Top Drawer Thrift. The venerable thrift shop sucks you in with its eye-catching road sign, then hands over your money to Project Transitions, an organization benefiting those affected by HIV/AIDS. Shopping never felt this philanthropic. Guess who scored a leather laptop briefcase for $6?

Alright, let’s get it over with. The inevitable portion of this column that encourages you to shop at a chain store has arrived. Burnet wouldn’t be nearly as economical without Savers and their brilliant department-store-style layout. A cart full of accessories and apparel will be so cheap you’ll feel like you’re stealing instead of getting a steal.

photo / Kristin Hillery Top Drawer Thrift 

Proceed with caution one block north to Out of the Past. Like the yellow “Falling Rock” signs on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, this store’s mountainous heaps of inventory should come with warning labels. Perusing this crazy shop is like an adventure in the wild… the last one standing gets the best bargain. (It’s probably not a bad idea to keep your bike helmet on while shopping.) Make a deal with the owners and take home something from the most bizarre collection of vintage in Texas.

If you’re in the market for western wear, cheap(er) cowboy boots, or random kitchen kitsch, swing through Get Back Vintage (448-1999). The prices here are not always basement low, but a good vintage/thrift shopper knows to be patient and wait for the markdown. While you’re in the neighborhood, stake your claim to some merchandise at the Burnet Road Flea Market (48th & Burnet, 448-1999). The timing can be unpredictable, but vendors usually set up shop every second and fourth weekend of the month.

Since a few dozen people still read, I suppose Curio Corner Books is worth mentioning. All Austinites love their neighborhood Half Price Books, but Curio has plenty to offer with $6 copies of Dickens’ classics and $3 Texas BBQ cookbooks.

Another Burnet Road icon, the Assistance League of Austin is a great place to pick up gently used patio furniture, super cheap tools, and a $2 stuffed animal for your cousin’s fifth birthday party. In similar fashion, the blue-bannered Saint Michaels Academy Thrift Shoppe (323-2001) should most definitely be included when you’re in a stingy mood.

photo / Kristin Hillery Antique Marketplace 

Last but certainly not least is the cornerstone of Burnet’s consignment sanctuary: The ever-popular and oh-so-cheap resale path of piety. One of my favorites is the St. David’s Episcopal operated Next-to-New. I would recommend Next-to-New if you’re hunting for a toaster, a floor rug, or mismatched dishware, since this store is ideal for household needs. Bring a housewarming gift when you stop by… they just moved a few blocks north to a larger venue at 5435 Burnet. Also great for moneygrubbers is the Lutheran Bethesda Resale Shop. Like many of the church- or non-profit-run thrifties on Burnet, their all-volunteer staff keeps the prices down. So next time you notice a volunteer, peel your eyes away from the $4 coffee pot to say thank you.

Ah, there’s nothing like the pleasant aromas of must and dust to indicate an economical day of consumerism. Ease your way out of a shopping-induced haze by enjoying an evening at the lovably raw Poodle Dog Lounge. Sit back with a bottleneck and shoot some pool with the locals in this wondrously divey dive bar. Just don’t mispronounce Burn-it, dammit.

More Capital City Cheapo

About Sarah Murray Sarah Murray is an Austin-based freelance writer and principal of Aerabela Brown Agency. Like everyone else in the world, she’s also working on a screenplay.


Anonymous's picture

Ummm…Paris doesnt shop at the GAP…