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On the Cheap 

A Back-To-School Resource Guide for the Affluence-impaired

When you become a college student, you also become a rifler and a rummager, a shuffler and a hoarder. Basically, you get cheap, maybe even miserly. Every penny pinched can get you something. You might take Econ 101 in your first year and cover the basics of supply and demand: You'll learn that you never have enough spending money and you always want more. Likewise, conversion and exchange rates become very important to you: You'll begin to evaluate every object's worth and whether selling it might get you the cash for your next night out or big event, or whether a purchase is really worth the dough. And at the same time, you'll come to realize which things are absolutely indispensable to you.

The best thing about college life may be the trading -- of stuff, ideas and even friends -- to gather more of what you like and get rid of what you don't. You're finally free from the fetters of family life, but at the same time you have some new constraints -- limited finances and modes of transportation. This means a little more planning and slightly more effort to make each dollar stretch. So where do you do your local wheeling and dealing to get the most out of what you have and get more of what you want? Here are a few places to check out. Bargain Stores If you're a true collector of clothing, accessories and other trinkets, or just great junk, the thrill of the thrift should get your adrenaline going. Red White & Blue (6001 Jefferson Hwy., 733-8066) is your closest bet for a real thrift store, with everything from furniture, clothing, toys and electronics to jewelry and random odds and ends. Likewise, the Bargain Center (3200 Dauphine St., 948-0007) in the Bywater also carries a good assortment of furniture and housewares as well as a small amount of clothing, books and jewelry -- all at reasonable prices. If you're looking specifically for used clothing, accessories, hats and shoes, both Funky Monkey (3127 Magazine St., 899-5587) and Buffalo Exchange (3312 Magazine St., 891-7443; www.buffaloexchange.com) carry a good variety for men and women. They also will buy used items in good condition based on current fashion trends and give you cash or store credit. Bookstores If you've got the time and energy to read material other than your textbooks, Maple Street Bookshop (7523 Maple St., 866-4916; www.maplestreetbookshop.com), a quaint little store in the Uptown Riverbend area within walking distance of Loyola and Tulane, specializes in works by local authors such as Walker Percy, Ellen Gilchrist and Christine Wiltz. The store carries new books, mostly fiction. It often holds special events and author signings, and offers a 10 percent student discount on Tuesdays. Garden District Bookshop (The Rink, 2727 Prytania St., 895-2266; www.gardendistrictbookshop.com) also carries books of local interest and has a larger selection of topics. It too hosts frequent author signings, book readings and other events as well and has many signed first-edition and limited-editions by both local and national authors. Octavia Books (513 Octavia St., 899-7323; www.octaviabooks.com) Uptown near Magazine Street also throws its fair share of events and has a book club that meets twice a month.

If you're looking for used books, try McKeown's Books (4737 Tchoupitoulas St., 895-1954; www.mckeownsbooks.com). It carries a good selection of fiction and nonfiction and is always willing to buy books in good condition for cash or store credit. For those with an interest in alternative literature on politics, feminism, social theory, environmentalism, gay and lesbian studies and manifestoes of various kinds, The Iron Rail bookstore (511 Marigny St., 944-0366; www.freewebs.com/ironrail/) in the Marigny is the place to go. The store also offers a lending library and reading room with periodicals and reference materials. If you're not interested in doing any heavy lifting outside your required course material, check out the Decatur Street Newsstand (1133 Decatur St.). Its magazine collection rivals that of the super-size book chains and adds a great urban touch to the back end of Decatur Street, a nice complement to the many unique coffee shops nearby. It also operates a DVD rental service with a selection of more than 500 titles. Music Stores You probably came to college totally tech-ready and acquire most of your music through iTunes or Amazon.com anyway. But if you're a little more old-school and want the real deal in your hand, or you're the type who enjoys the instant gratification of a same-day in-store purchase, there are a couple of record stores with new and used CDs. The Mushroom (1037 Broadway St., 866-6065) near Tulane and Loyola universities carries new and used CDs as well as T-shirts, movies, posters, stickers, buttons and other music paraphernalia. It's also a good source for alternative and Indie music, and it will buy your used CDs. Jim Russell's Rare Records (1837 Magazine St., 522-2602; www.jimrussellrecords.com) is the place to buy anything music was ever put on -- vinyl, LPs, 45s, 78s, cassette tapes or CDs. The store carries new, used and rare music and also sells movies, DVDs, video games, posters, turntables and accessories. Vieux Carre Vinyl (1214 Decatur St., 561-5683; www.vcvinyl.com) in the French Quarter is also a place to do some musical treasure hunting with floor-to-ceiling rows of records. It also offers used CDs, cassettes, 78s and 45s, but this part of the collection is a little slim. Louisiana Music Factory, (210 Decatur St., 586-1094; www.louisianamusicfactory.com) also in the French Quarter, has a number of unique items as well. It specializes in New Orleans and Louisiana music including Cajun, Zydeco and New Orleans traditional and modern jazz. It carries new CDs and records, music-related books, videos, DVDs and T-shirts. The store is also happy to help with special requests and unusual orders.

click to enlarge You can get almost anything music-related at Louisiana - Music Factory in the French Quarter. - AMY DICKERSON
  • Amy Dickerson
  • You can get almost anything music-related at Louisiana Music Factory in the French Quarter.

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