Erik Hansen is a graduate student pursuing a master of public policy and Mustang Daily graduate columnist.

If you did not spend the summer roughing it here in town, then you probably spent the weekend before school frantically unloading your belongs from a truck, U-Haul or Ford Aerostar. Along with your roommates, you were (hopefully) able to cobble enough hand-me-down household items together to make your unit, apartment or garage somewhat inhabitable. However, as we wrap up the first month of the school year, you might begin to realize you could really use an end table, couch or second refrigerator for all your extra cans of “soda.” Where do you turn now?

For the savvy shopper, there are a slew of resources out there that have what you are looking for at half the price you would pay at Wal-Mart. While these resources may not have the same characters as you will find at Wal-Mart, all of the money you save can help pay for next quarter’s tuition, or the new Nickelback album scheduled to drop next month.

So before you hit up Target — or “Tar-zhay” for those with more discerning tastes — consider trying the following resources first.

Craigslist: Seriously, if it exists, you can probably find it on Craigslist. (Enter your own snarky/crude/sarcastic comment here). Craig Newmark even saw fit to feature San Luis Obispo as a city on Craigslist.

So go on Craigslist and make your way into the San Luis Obispo section. Next, click on the “For Sale” section header and type whatever furniture it is you are looking for. Then, like magic, you will find someone trying to sell it. There is even a sub-section where people are giving their stuff away for free — one can only image the treasures that lurk in there.

Of course, common sense is required when buying off of Craigslist. If someone can only sell you their goods at 2 a.m. from an abandoned ranch somewhere in Nipomo, it might not be legit. Though tempting, the same thing goes for anyone trying to sell Miley Cyrus tickets or give away free candy.

Yard Sales: Some people spend their entire Saturday and Sunday mornings going from yard sale to yard sale. They map out their route the night before and hit the road at 6 a.m. the next day.

There has to be a reason behind such dedication, and as soon as you hit your first yard sale, you will understand. The mad dash, the rush of sprinting to the comic books, vinyl records and clothing, all in a desperate search for something vintage that can then be flipped for a profit; the haggling, it is an art form to negotiate down from 75 to 25 cents.

That said, old chairs, coffee tables and dusty lamps abound at yard sales. Because you have nothing better to do on a Friday night, use the following websites to map the route you and your roommates are going to take Saturday morning, coffee and donuts in hand: or

Thrift Store: While usually only good for throwing together a last minute Halloween costume, after you have hit up every yard sale in town, and you still need to find an item or two, take a shot at one of our many thrift stores. Some are better than others, and some charge more than they should, but it would be remiss not listing at least a few here for you to try:

Family Christian Center Thrift Store: 532 Higuera St.

Old Mission School Thrift Shop: 2640 Broad St.

Goodwill: 15 Higuera St.

United Voluntary Service Thrift Shop: 474 Marsh St., Suite E

Hospice Partners Hope Chest: 445 Higuera St.

Do It Yourself: The only thing keeping you from building your own bookshelf is laziness, and maybe time … and space … and tools.

Do not be disheartened though, the Cal Poly Craft Center can provide you with all the space and tools you will need. Now you just need to find the willpower and time to get in there and make the bookshelf of your dreams.

Check the Cal Poly Craft Center for hours and ideas.

You will need plans too; “just winging it” when building a bookshelf could have disastrous results. The following websites can help you find what you are looking to build, and help you figure out what you need and how to build it and the  workshop.

Relatives and Friends: Asking your family for things is a sign of weakness and should only be done as a last resort. On the other hand, asking to borrow something from your friends and never returning it is a sign of ingenuity and should be one of the first things you try.

That said, grandmas and crazy uncles are more friends than family; you can tell them things you would never tell your mom or dad. As an added bonus, they usually have stuff lying around their house that they have horded for years and never use. Giving them a call now asking to come pick it up over winter break might just land you a free television you can use for the rest of the year.

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