Thrifting is ubiquitous in Houston. There are people who make their entire livings going to thrift stores, and reselling merchandise they find there. Outside of business prospects, many of us enjoy thrifting simply for the fun of it. You never really know what you’re going to find with a megalopolis worth of donations, in a repurposed retailer. I’ve thrifted a good amount of vintage electronics in my day, including a great deal of video games. However, my focus as of late is more retail based signage, memorabilia, glassware, etc… However, these are the exact types of things that other thrifters love to pickup and resell on sites like eBay. It’s also worth noting that as of the last few years, Goodwill has become aware of this practice, and now pre-picks most of these kinds of thrifts to sell on their own auction site. It’s a shame because there are so many different and conflating items that you never know what slips through the cracks. While other second hand shops like Family Thrift and Salvation Army will sometimes pick up merchandise like this, but their stores are generally more apparel focused. There is, of course, Value Village, which is at best, a somewhat functional store, and at worst a literal pigsty. However, in 2021, enter, Deseret Industries, the antithesis of our local thrifting scene.
Before we get too much further in, let’s take a moment to reflect how the modern-day thrift store came to be. Most chain thrifts have their heritages rooted in charity shops opened by church parishes. Goodwill and the Salvation Army flourished as chains above all others, managing a global presence by the 20th century. Both were originally born out of Methodist Parishes, their early growth was connected to expansion of churches. Obviously, areas with lower Methodist populations saw an increase in other thrift stores operated by their preferred denominations. Such at the Catholic St. Paul de Vincent stores. In Utah, a high population of Latter Day Saints led to the creation of Deseret Industries. They opened the first stores during the Great Depression and have had a smaller but similar evolution to Goodwill, noting however that they are still a portion of the church. According to their own blog, The Mormon Church purchased the building in 2017. This was approximately a year after it closed as Sports Authority. Prior to 2003, the store had used the name Oshman’s since opening in 1995. The building has been fully gutted since closing as a Sports Authority, and was given a more spartan look under Deseret Industries. Except for selling some new furniture manufactured by the store, Deseret Industries caries almost the same merchandise mix you’d find at a Goodwill, but with one main advantage. It’s all extremely well organized. If you want to find something at this store, it isn’t much of a challenge. I visited nearly 8 months after it opened, and the store was still very well-kept.
Overall, this was a fun store to visit, and it will likely be a thrift stop for me when I’m in the area. I haven’t been back to see what the product turnaround is like, but I would suspect it’s somewhat decent. They accept donations on site, but it seemed that some of their merchandise was trucked in.
What are ya doin’ tonight?
Ya got no place to go.
Gotta get out of the city,
Why don’t ya come along with me?