By: Lauren Walker, Purdue alumnus
With August closing in and the new year of leases starting soon, it’s time to start prepping for your new place. Whether it’s in the Purdue housing or an off-campus apartment, you most likely need to buy a few things. It’s easy to create a huge dent in your summer savings if you buy everything at full retail price. So, buy used! I’ve always been able to easily find furniture under $50 a piece every year I’ve been at Purdue. I’ve even gotten some stuff for free. Where, you ask?
1. Thrift Stores
PROS: It’s a one-stop-shop for small items like cooking utensils, dining ware and picture frames at a reasonable price.
CONS: If you’re looking for something very specific, they can be hit or miss. Furniture and other large items are in slim choice at Goodwill.
Trinity Thrift Store
1224 Union Street
Lafayette, IN 47904
West Lafayette Goodwill – First Saturday of every month is ½ price everything in the store
907 Sagamore Parkway West
West Lafayette, IN 47904
3815 Fortune Dr.
Lafayette, IN 47905
2. Garage Sales
PROS: Extremely cheap prices. I’ve found many household items for less than $5 at garage sales. Furniture can be harder to find, but when you do, it’s very cheap. In addition, you can haggle with the owner for a lower price. I rarely have someone turn down a lower offer.
CONS: Again, if you are looking for a very specific item, you might have trouble finding it. You also might have to drive all around town hitting up different sales to get everything you need, and we all know gas isn’t cheap.
3. One Man’s Trash is Your Treasure
There’s a special kind of Senior Week here at Purdue. As graduating students move to full-time jobs in distant cities, there are countless free scores waiting by every dumpster, trash can, and curb side in West Lafayette.
PROS: Well for one, it’s free. But don’t worry; you won’t have to jump inside a dumpster. Many considerate movers will leave their perfectly useable unwanted furniture and appliances in a clean spot beside the dumpster.
CONS: Hey, if you’re willing to jump into a dumpster to dig deeper, I’m not stopping you. You just might get a little messy.
WHERE: Take a stroll or car ride around the student neighborhoods and see what you can find. Large apartment complexes will be overflowing with treasures.
PROS: You can shop in your pajamas at home and the seller might even deliver the goods to you. Performing a quick search through the listings is the fastest and easiest way to find a very particular item for cheap. Remember to haggle down the price!
CONS: Setting up a time and place to meet someone for your purchase can be a bit of a pain, especially if they cancel at the last second. “Oh yeah, I forgot had dinner with the in-laws tonight. Can we do tomorrow?”
WHERE: The Lafayette/West Lafayette Tippecanoe Craigslist.
5. Purdue Surplus
Ever wonder where all those abandoned bikes from campus go? They get shipped off to the Purdue Warehouse & Surplus Store in Lafayette! They specialize in old furniture from Purdue buildings, bikes, computers and monitors, and student lost-and-found stuff.
PROS: The prices are extremely cheap. I’ve gotten an exercise bike for $10 and a coffee table for $5 from the warehouse in the past.
CONS: The Purdue Warehouse & Surplus Store has odd operating hours – Mon-Fri 12PM-4PM. So if you’re only free on weekends, this option is out. You also might be purchasing something you once owned.
Purdue Warehouse & Surplus Store
3601 Sagamore Parkway North
Lafayette, IN 47904
PROS: Bids on small household items are typically auctioned off by the box-full. Larger items like furniture are bid on individually, usually under $50, as long as it is not an antique.
CONS: Auctions can take up an entire afternoon if the item you want is at the end of the bidding schedule. Many auctions have expensive antiques for sale, making them useless for our purposes.
WHERE: Search online for auctions in the Greater Lafayette area or check the Journal and Courier classifieds section.
Freecycle is an online email community to which you subscribe. Members post free items they have up for grab, from couches to clothes. How it works, you email the member who posted the item to set up a time and place to pick up the item. As a member, you can ask items you need and you will be emailed free offers from other members.
PROS: It’s completely free!
CONS: Freecycle works only through Yahoo! Groups, so if you don’t like to use Yahoo! E-mail, you can’t use Freecycle. Since everything is free, things go fast. If you don’t have time to keep a watchful eye on the Freecycle emails, you might not move fast enough to get something.
WHERE: The Freecycle Network
It may seem tedious to think through every avenue to save some money on household items. But if you were to save even $100, you’ve paid for at least one textbook.