Where western meets vintage

Where western meets vintage

Sounds of razors and hair trimming are not what customers usually expect to hear when walking into a vintage store. However, this isn’t the only unique thing about Mad Cowboy Vintage & Goods. 

Located in Downtown Bryan, Mad Cowboy opened in the fall of 2023 on South Sims Avenue. Co-owners Thomas and Sarah Messenger settled into College Station to pursue owning a vintage thrift shop. 

After moving to College Station with Sarah, Thomas got a haircut at 101 Barbershop in Downtown Bryan, but left with more than just a fresh cut. Luke Knowles, owner of the barbershop, mentioned to Thomas that the empty retail space next to his shop was open. Knowles said his own interest in vintage clothing led him to offer up the space.

“I was basically just like, ‘We’ll take it. Draw it up and tell me what it’ll cost,’” Thomas said. “The rest is history.” 

The Messengers were by no means looking to open a permanent shop since they were welcoming their first child at the same time, Thomas said, but the opportunity seemed too good to pass up.

“We were open to the idea and it fell into our lap and here we are three months later,” Thomas said.

Thomas’ love for vintage items comes largely from his parents and grandmother, who enjoyed curating vintage items they passed down to him. Their hobby soon became his, and Thomas graduated from Michigan State with a degree in apparel and textile design.  

“I was always into fashion and I’ve always been into clothes,” Thomas said. “I saw a lot of people I graduated with go off and go to New York and LA and work for various fashion brands and companies and design firms. I saw that it wasn’t for me. I knew I wasn’t going to go and be at the bottom of the pyramid and working for someone’s vision.” 

The priority for Mad Cowboy is to help customers find small pieces of themselves in the curated items, Thomas said. 

“We like the idea that when someone comes into the store, they’ll come across a T-shirt, sweater or hat that they feel fits them perfectly, that they’ll keep for years or even forever,” Sarah said.

Thomas said he wants the items customers walk away with to stay with them and become extensions of themselves that make them feel confident.

“I get a lot of people who come in and say, ‘Oh, I remember this’ or ‘Oh, my dad had this,’” Thomas said. “That’s what vintage is about. It’s not just about the clothing or buying it or making the money or having a cool piece of clothing. It’s about the memories and the nostalgia that comes with every piece of clothing or VHS or glassware or whatever it may be.” 

In the beginning of Mad Cowboy, Thomas said he attended pop-up markets in the streets of Dallas. He quickly realized he needed to come up with a name for his shop, but struggled to find something that truly reflected his brand.

“I’m trying to find something that relates to us and related to other people, in Texas especially,” Thomas said. “Also crossing that weird cross road we’re at, because we’re not western wear, we’re not just streetwear vintage, we’re not just vintage. We carry a lot of new goods here.” 

Luckily, Sarah was a creator herself and suggested Mad Cowboy, a business name she had personally worked on. Not only was Sarah pivotal to the creation of the store by contributing the name, Thomas said, her support has been invaluable. 

“She never thought I was silly for wanting to go on the street in Dallas to sell T-shirts on a dinky little rack,” Thomas said. “Every time we’ve had a misstep or something seems like it’s not going to work out, she’s been there [to] help pick up the pieces.”

Thomas said their family and friends encouraged them throughout the years, but their biggest supporters are the people they meet every day. 

“Customers are your biggest support,” Thomas said. “Your family and friends will always support you in what you do, but strangers who don’t even know who you are or don’t know how you ended up here that just genuinely love your business and brand … they end up being your biggest supporters in the end.”

Thomas said he noticed College Station was special shortly after moving here. Not only are the people welcoming to new businesses, but they shape the atmosphere of the city. 

“There’s a rich culture of people here from different walks of life that really value this place and the businesses that show up here and are here for the community,” Thomas said. 

Because high quality and memorable experiences are Thomas’ priorities, he said he values the sellers he buys from. Although he favors streetwear, he tries to keep the classic western wear stocked.

Thomas knows every piece of clothing that comes through our shop,” Sarah said. “He handpicks every piece and has a natural gift for curating.” 

Thomas said he and Sarah are thankful for the acceptance and support they receive from the people in College Station and hope to continue to be a part of the community.

“We just feel really grateful and lucky to be where we are and even to Luke Knowles for giving us the opportunity to take this space from him and trusting us to utilize the space to complement his business next door,” Thomas said. “We’re really grateful to be here and we got a lot of things we’re working on and hopefully to grow this into something that is more than just vintage clothes.” 

Thomas said he hopes to create a meaningful experience for those shopping at Mad Cowboy, whether they leave with a shopping bag in hand or not.

“We want you to feel like you had an experience here,” Thomas said. “We want you to feel like you took something away from here and you feel like you had a good conversation with me or one of our other employees or you saw something that reminded you of your grandma’s house.”

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    Jenny KerzmanMar 5, 2024 at 7:46 pm

    Sounds like a great place, can’t wait to visit during my next stop at CStat.