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Used furniture helps cash-strapped college students kit out their apartment while staying unique

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For cash-strapped college students with an eye for design, there aren't too many options when purchasing their first set of furniture. They can opt for the inexpensive selection at Target or Walmart, or the chic Swedish styles at IKEA.

But low-cost can mean lower quality and shoddier workmanship.

Dace Tom, an employee of Bill's Used Furniture and a student at Oklahoma City Community College, holds that new furniture isn't necessarily the best choice when students look to stock their new apartments.

"The problem with (that furniture) is that it's cheaply made, and it's just not going to last," Tom said. "Used furniture is an actual investment; it's something that you are going to be able to keep for a long time."

Solidly built and with its own charms, used furniture may have worn its welcome at an old home, but it is being readily accepted into the vacant spaces of college students' dens and bedrooms.

Used furniture and vintage decor can bring a unique edge to a room while keeping costs at a minimum.

Diana Harris, owner of Bad Granny's Bazaar, a used goods market located in the Plaza District, 1759 N.W. 16th, said the college-aged crowd makes up the bulk of her best customers. She also said that the products in the market serve a dual purpose.

"Everything here is reasonable and cheap, but it's also green and repurposeful," she said.

Socially aware coeds are able to keep a clear conscious by knowing that purchasing used furniture cuts down on the waste materials coming from assembling new products. Keeping money within the community is an added plus.

"Part of it is a local thing," Harris said. "People want to keep their money right here."

Beyond economic and social incentives, students enjoy the very act of searching for new treasures. Tom said Bill's Used Furniture, 315 Alameda in Norman, has become a destination for students looking to spend time browsing the store's stock of retro goods that span across half a century. When they find something, it's going to be authentic.

"The vintage look is something that can be imitated, but it's just not the real deal," Tom said.

Harris said students look at used items as something that can be unique to them, and thinks it is great that her shoppers aren't so tied to high-end, designer looks.

"It's awesome how these kids express their own personalities, and they don't really care what it is they are supposed to like," she said.

Oklahoma City University's BLUEtique, 1933 N.W. 23rd, is tying thrift shopping and college students even closer together. The university opened the resale shop in August, and its students are operating it. While the shop doesn't sell large-scale furniture pieces, it does offer products like linens, utensils, small appliances and home decor.

Hyun Ju Lee, a grad student currently working at the boutique, said students have really enjoyed having this option available when looking to outfit their dorm rooms.

"For the new students living in the dorm, they often can't afford to buy new items," Lee said. "It's good to be able to buy new items from here."

The store accepts donations from the community, which can include lightly worn home wares or brand-new ones. Most of the items come from trustees, faculty and staff of the university, as well as from the community. Money raised from the store goes to fund student employment scholarships for those who work in BLUEtique.

Of course, most resale stores do act as a sort of community service, keeping money circulating locally, limiting waste to a minimum and providing cheap " and often stylish " options for those who couldn't otherwise afford it.

With all that in mind, it seems vintage furniture and college students just fit like a glove.

"(Used furniture) is going to be unique," Tom said. "With college students who are still coming into their own, unique is a good thing." "Joshua Boydston

photo Bad Granny's. Photo/Shannon Cornman

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