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Pop-Up Shop

In Its New Permanent Location, Thrift Studio Is Now Open

We chatted with one of the designers of the annual home furnishings pop-up shop, which benefits Dwell With Dignity.
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Roz Murphy Design's vignette at the 2023 Thrift Studio. Aaron Dougherty Photography

Everywhere you looked at the Thrift Studio preview party Thursday, there were bright green “sold” stickers. Shoppers squeezed through chatty crowds to snatch up discounted designer sideboards and lamps, paintings and cocktail tumblers. Volunteers with clipboards stood vigilantly outside each vignette to help folks stake their claims. 

Every fall Dwell With Dignity hosts the weeks-long pop-up shop, which sells luxury home furnishings and art at reduced prices. Local designers stage mock rooms, called vignettes, like an actual furniture store, and visitors can parse through all the bargains. As happy customers take their new finds home, staff refills the spaces on Mondays with more décor until the end of the run. By closing day, Thrift Studio will have sold on average 25,000 to 30,000 items.

Over the years, Thrift Studio has grown in popularity, thanks in large part to its deals. Its proceeds make up the majority of the fundraising for Dwell With Dignity, which furnishes living spaces for families in need. 

There’s an added excitement to this year’s event, though. After years of popping up in various spaces around the Dallas Design District, Thrift Studio bought a new 7,500-square-foot permanent home at 1833 E. Levee St. last winter. The goal with the new space is to host smaller events throughout the year and to expand the Thrift Studio dates even longer, Dwell With Dignity executive director Ashley Sharp told D Magazine last spring. Already, the usually monthlong popup has been expanded to six weeks this year, open August 25–October 7.

The crowd at the August 24 preview party buzzed as folks explored the new space. “It’s been a frenzy this morning,” vignette designer Joel Baldazo says. “It’s fabulous. I love it. That’s why I didn’t bring my dog because I think they would have sold him.”

Baldazo, who moved to Dallas from Los Angeles in 2014, first got involved with Dwell with Dignity in 2015. In 2018, he designed his first vignette, alongside designers like Chad Dorsey, Javier Burkle, and Studio Thomas James. Thrift Studio doesn’t often repeat designers, but while he shopped with a client at last year’s event, Sharp asked if he’d participate in 2023, too. “I love doing it,” Baldazo says.

We chatted with Baldazo about the 2023 event, the new space, setting up his vignette, and the best times to come.

What’s the most exciting part about this year’s Thrift Studio?

The most exciting part is that we now have the space that we can work in year in and year out. And that just says to me that the organization is doing great things and growing, because they were able to buy a building and their own space. And that means that everything that we do is going directly to affect the lives of the people who need it.

How do the designers source pieces for their vignettes?

Originally, what [Thrift Studio] would do is that they would let the designers go through the warehouse and pick all the things that have been donated. But over the years, well-connected designers have gotten things donated from their clients or their other vendors or showrooms or whatever. Or if you have a showroom, you can put your stuff in there and sell because it all goes to charity.  

Do you do that?

I go to the warehouse and go through all the stuff that’s donated and pick things from there. And then use those things in the way that I do. Lots of people pick a lot of things. But a lot of designers also bring in a lot of stuff. And I just, I never do, although I do donate some things, like the sofa in my vignette this year was given to me last year by a client. She didn’t want it, [and] we replaced it. So, I had my storage unit. And I happened to have fabric available. So I had it redone.

How long does it take to plan the vignette? 

It’s probably a three- or four-month-long process once they decide [on the designers]. I mean, they told me a year ago, so I’ve been thinking about what I wanted. But usually when we are able to pick from the warehouse, that’s when I think people really start designing, because they get to see what they get and what they have. And then you come up with, “I think I’ll do all gray or all green or contempt or whatever it is.”

What was the inspiration behind your vignette? 

A cigar bar lounge feel. I just wanted it to feel rich, like some old man was in his man cave basement—filled with all the things that he got on his travels. Do you know what I mean? But I didn’t want it to be so masculine that it wouldn’t appeal to women. And that’s why the Jackie O picture, the pinks, and all that work with all my greens and blues and stuff.

So, how do you keep that look up throughout the popup as people buy items and staff replaces them with new décor? 

They want us to do [the vignettes] originally to attract, right? These are the designers, here’s their room. And that’s why for the first day, they leave it alone. And then you can start getting things out of the room. 

Once they restock it, it’s up to the volunteers and the staff to put things in there that will kind of go with whatever’s [in there]. But I think once we’re not here every day trying to fluff it up and refresh and whatever—I think they just want that for that first few days. Although they know me so well, they know what kind of stuff I would put in.

So, you yourself are hands-off after the first couple of days? 

Pretty much, yeah.

So besides coming on opening day or on Tuesdays, after they restock the vignettes, when should people come and shop?

The last week is when everything is on sale, and it’s great and you get great deals. But the great thing about it is that you get to get things that you normally wouldn’t. That you couldn’t afford or were not in the budget or it was a splurge. Here, you can get those things at such a great price. 

10 a.m.­ through 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, Aug. 25–Oct. 7. 1833 E. Levee St. dwellwithdignity.org

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Catherine Wendlandt

Catherine Wendlandt

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Catherine Wendlandt is the online associate editor for D Magazine’s Living and Home and Garden blogs, where she covers all…

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