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  • If this isn't Urban Outfitters worthy, you can fight me....

    Susan Gonzalez/ For the Colorado Daily

    If this isn't Urban Outfitters worthy, you can fight me. Find colorful housewares at Goodwill Boulder.

  • I purchased this outfit at the Ares Thrift Store in...

    Susan Gonzalez/ For the Colorado Daily

    I purchased this outfit at the Ares Thrift Store in Boulder. The skirt was $5.99, and the top was $2.99.

  • Adorable knickknacks are on sale at Ares Thrift Store in...

    Susan Gonzalez/ For the Colorado Daily

    Adorable knickknacks are on sale at Ares Thrift Store in Boulder.

  • A reporter does her best "college student who tries" impersonation...

    Susan Gonzalez / For the Colorado Daily

    A reporter does her best "college student who tries" impersonation at Goodwill Boulder. Shirt $4.99, shorts $4.99, belt $1.99, purse $12.99.

  • A classic '80s power bitch blouse.

    Susan Gonzalez/ For the Colorado Daily

    A classic '80s power bitch blouse.



OK. Come here.



That’s close enough. Back up.

I’m going to tell you a secret. Ready?

If you’re paying full price for anything, you’re a sucker.*

*Important exceptions include shoes, underwear, tattoos and drugs.

Seriously, Boulder-area thrift stores are full of once-used brand-name cast-offs from juniors who couldn’t be bothered to take last season’s North Face jacket on their ski trip to the Alps. Their loss. Your win.

Plus, if you’re like me, thrifting is therapy on a budget. My inner Tim Gunn loves flipping through racks of clothes and silently judging them. “$3 for that Christmas sweater? Not on your life.”

Here are some of the best places to find cheap duds or items to spruce up your dorm. A few (outside of Boulder) even sell severely discounted outdoor items. Yes, even cheaper than an REI sale.

Good luck, my young padawan, and happy thrifting.

Ares Thrift Store

2536 Spruce St.

Sale Days:

Monday: Buy one, get one free clothing items

Tuesday: 20 percent off senior discount for 55 and older

Wednesday: Double-stamp day on frequent shopper cards (completed cards earn a $10 shopping spree at the store)

Thursday and Friday: Shop during Happy Hours 10 to 11 a.m. or 6 to 7 p.m. to earn ARES Bucks (you can use those instead of money to make in-store purchases)

Sunday: Student or faculty discount of 20 percent off with a valid school ID

Ares is the place to go to find a great outfit that no one else will have or cute knickknacks for your home.

Within minutes, I was telling myself, “No, Karen, you don’t need this scuffed up purple end table.”

In housewares, there was also an inspirational “do it now” statuette. Grab yourself a nondigital scale to track that freshmen 15 even when the power goes out and a curvy teapot to pour out your iced cucumber water with ease. What? I’m trying to be fancy.

There’s tons of stuff for very specific purposes. Pick yourself up a graduation cap for tens of thousands of dollars less than a degree. Send a selfie to your parents with the note, “Graduated early. Got job offers!” and save yourself a lot of headaches. (Editors note: The Colorado Daily’s official stance on this issue is, “You wanna end up like Gwyneth Paltrow? Stay in school, kids.”)

I found a ton of cute clothes here, too, some of which I actually purchased. There was a blue patterned blouse there for $3.99 that made me feel like an ’80s power bitch. I purchased an awesome yellow-and-black patterned pencil skirt for $5.99 and a plain black top for $2.99.

Goodwill Boulder

2486 Baseline Road

Pro tip: Google maps will sometimes send you to the Goodwill donation center at 3043 Walnut St, thus near-ruining your thrift run with more driving. Make sure you go to the store at Baseline and Broadway.

Ah, the Goodwill. That old thrifting standby. I can seriously spend hours in a Goodwill trying on clothes (always wash them when you get home) and trying to decide if I really need another coffee mug with a pithy saying. I bought a happy stripey painting here for $1.99, and they had many other great home things — a camping lamp for 13.99, two water jugs for $1.99 each and a pillow for $1.99.

There’s more. Do you need some bedrails? Those’ll be $14.99 at the Goodwill. There are tennis racks and SCUBA fins for sale, too. Don’t try for skiing, snowboarding or hiking accessories, though. Those are pretty well picked over, but more on that later.

Make sure you hit up the furniture and larger items section in the outer room before you leave. They’ve got some super cheap stuff in there that can really make a plain beige box of a dorm room feel like home.

In the clothing section, I tried to find an outfit I would have worn to class in college if I wasn’t constantly living in a stained T-shirt and basketball shorts. I found a super comfy big shirt for $4.99, a pair of shorts for $4.99, one of those decorative chunky belts for $1.99 and a purse that looked damn-near new for $12.99.

Arc Thrift Store

1349 E. South Boulder Road, Louisville

Look. Listen. Look and listen. I know this is technically outside of Boulder, but if you’re thrifting, you need to pay it a visit. I’m not even supposed to be telling you this. My friend explicitly asked me to omit it from this article because he doesn’t want other people finding out, but here I am.

If you have the means, make the 15-minute drive to the Arc and you won’t be sorry. This is where you need to go for books, CDs and outdoor gear.

There’s a section at the back right of the store with skis, snowboards, boots, backpacking backpacks, tennis rackets, roller skates and shit that I don’t even know the name of. Soccer cleats? Sure, they’ve got ’em. Hockey sticks? You bet your ass.

The Arc has a much smaller furniture selection than the Goodwill, but their housewares are on point. Cruise for lamps (they’ve got a place where you can test electronics), school supplies, glassware, picture frames and more.

The clothing section is no joke either. There’s a huge selection of pretty much everything. Honestly, most of my closet has come from the Arc.

Karen Antonacci: