Accent Store Fixtures offers unique thrift experience in Twin Cities

In business for six years, Jill Henderson still gets excited about the little things. Today she’s over the moon about a second-hand mirror.

"I think it fits perfectly," she said.

It’s the latest addition to her Linden Hills store “Poppy,” which she outfitted entirely with recycled pieces.

"All of the front desks at Poppy's are repurposed," Henderson said. "We used slatwall to make it more affordable."

But piecing Poppy together like this took a lot of vision. Especially when you consider where it all came from.

Accent Store Fixtures is a thrift store unlike any other in the Twin Cities.

Operations Manager Chad Purdy said every day is a revolving door and that finding what you want here is a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. But, he says, the finds are worth it, and they draw people from big business to everyday people looking for a deal.

"Anybody from Target to Macys to mom and pop, they all come in here looking," he said.

Little known but larger than life, this retail thrift store carved out its niche 23 years ago and has been a family operation all these years. They go in to liquidation, closures and remodels and then re-sell and rent out the goods. It looks like an enormous retail graveyard. A place where shelving, clothing racks and other oddities come to die.

"A lot of these stores, they don't care where it goes.. they just need it out. Anything for a store that you would think of - hooks and brackets to a plastic hanger to a mannequin," Purdy said.

Every piece in here is here for a reason, chosen because it’ll have value to someone eventually.

Then Purdy shows us a back room that not many people get to see.

"I don't know what's in here but I've been packing a lot of the fun stuff from Macy's.” He points to a doll that looks like it’s been around for more than a few years.

“She probably came out of the Macy's/Dayton's 8th floor," he said.

There are countless hidden gems like that in here. Next we find a pile of vintage mannequins. Chad tells us they’re worth upwards of $1,000. "Their face was modeled after a supermodel, so that's where it gets more expensive."

And then we stumble on a random, but valuable size 21 high-top, rescued during demo. Chad says, "That Shaq (Shaquille O’Neil) shoe came out of a store in the Mall of America."

Like every good thrift store, there are plenty of one-off impulse buys here. But it’s the more practical stuff that keeps this business going. Even if buyers have to use a little imagination. Chad says he gets both business owners and every day folks who want to do a remodel at home or just want a piece of furniture.

Ian Silver-Ramp of Mississippi Mushrooms was shopping for shelf parts the day we were there.

"I buy shelving specially just to grow mushrooms at our farm just about two miles north of here," he said. 

Sumaya Ahmed owns ZiZi Boutique, a women’s clothing store in Minneapolis. "I have different ideas of what I want to do, what I want to change at the store and whatever I have in mind and I ask for, they make it happen."

And that’s what they do here. Make it happen. No matter what you need. 

"I've had people say they need arms or fingers or hands (mannequins) and you know we'll try to supply you with whatever you want," Purdy said.

Connecting buyers with secondhand odds and ends so they can live to see another day.

"Mannequins - there's always an interesting story behind it," he said. "What you do with it is your business. I don't ask questions."