Plenty of places for bargain shopping in Columbia

Thursday, July 30, 2009 | 12:00 p.m. CDT; updated 12:40 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 30, 2009

It can be hard to buy decent clothes and accessories when you’re on a student budget.

But if you’re not opposed to recycled clothing, and you know where to look, you can almost always find a bargain downtown.

Maude’s Vintage Clothing and Costume, 810 E. Broadway, 449-3320

Maude’s Vintage on Broadway is a popular haunt for students. You can often see them navigating their way through racks of clothing, hat stands, and glass cases full of trinkets while retro music plays in the room.

“They have a lot of stuff and it’s all pretty cheap," senior Jamon Kimbrough said. "It has stuff that students would want to wear. I bought a leather jacket for $20. I bought an $8 pair of jeans.”

The store has a wide selection of tops, skirts, swimwear, accessories, bags, dresses and jeans at discount prices.

“Prices vary, but some items are medium-priced because we sell vintage clothing,” sales assistant Nikki Pyatt said. “The price is determined by the condition of the clothes when we buy them. We also research on the Internet what the items would usually cost.”

Shirts for men and women, on average, are priced at $5 - $15. Men’s leather jackets can be found for $15, women’s skirts on average are $8, and shoes come in varying sizes starting from $5.

There's a lot of good quality jeans for men and women. For women particularly, well-branded jeans can be found at discount prices. Recently, one rack contained a pair of Gap jeans for $8, Old Navy jeans for $7.75, Wrangler jeans for $8, Levis for $12, and Massimo jeans for $8.75.

Sale items at the back of the store cost as little as $3.

The best part of Maude’s is the vintage section at the back, where they sell "dead" stock items from the ‘40s to the ‘80s. These are clothes that have never been worn. Dresses typically start at $9, and cost on average $16 to $17.

“The best find for me was a pair of Doc Martin boots I got for $8,” Pyatt said.

Blackberry Exchange, 16 S. Ninth St., 499-0420

A couple of mannequins in the window of Blackberry Exchange are the first things you notice when walking past the store on Ninth Street. Their long, floaty dresses in bold prints and colors entice you into the clothing store.

It’s a large shop with mirrors lining most walls, along with vintage trinkets like vases, cameras and paintings in different areas. The sheer quantity of clothes overflowing the racks makes it a mission just to navigate the floor space.

One wall near the front of the store is almost entirely consumed with tops. A large selection of T-shirts starts at $5. 

Another area is almost completely dedicated to jeans in varying styles and sizes with an average price of $12. Discount women’s dresses, skirts, shoes and shorts, as well as men’s shirts and pants, are also available.

The real bargain hunters treasures are in the back, with an entire section dedicated to $1 items. Shirts, dresses, pants, jewelery and accessories are all tucked away for shoppers to discover.

Leo’s Old Clothes, 9 N. Ninth St., 449-2001

It’s not hard to miss Leo’s Old Clothes on the way to The Blue Note.

The places are on the same street, but the door is small and a cardboard sign in bubble writing on the corner reads: “Leo’s Old Clothes."

A flight of stairs painted green and layered in dust and glitter opens into a room that resembles an attic, with a familiar musty smell.

You need hours to wade through the clothes, cameras, hats, bags, books, jewelry, paintings, photographs, postcards and various other items crammed into the rectangular room.

With enough time, the bargains can be plentiful. Racks and shelves are filled with jeans ranging from $6 to $20. Shorts and shirts are available starting from $4, and women’s skirts, in various prints, sell for $8.

Oriental clothing is a specialty, with traditional vintage Chinese and Indian wear retailing from $10. Vintage outfits with polka dots, big bows, velvet, shoulder pads and beading are all crammed on racks around the floor space. Leo’s even offers costumes for hire.

Absolute Vintage, 923 E. Broadway, 875-8440

Absolute Vintage on Broadway has a different feel than the other discount stores downtown. That's probably because it is an actual vintage store as opposed to a thrift store, according to sales assistant Colleen Blake.

This means that most items aren’t as inexpensive as some other stores.

“The sale prices are dependent on how much we purchase them for and the era the items are from,” Blake said.

That doesn’t mean you can’t find great discount items here.

Browse through delicate jewelry, bags with ornate frames, and men's and women’s apparel while grooving to retro music. Skirts — plain, printed and patterned — are on a rack at the front of the store, priced from $8. Women's and men’s jeans come small, medium and large sizes and range from $8-$22. Bags are usually priced from $8 and hats from $6.

One of the best things about Absolute Vintage is the many options for men. Half the front section has jeans, jackets, polo tops, button-down shirts and cufflinks at discount prices. Jeans are priced from $8, shirts from $6, and jackets $16.

On sale, you can even buy a pair of pants for $3.

New Beginning Consignment, 7 S. Tenth St., 449-5722

New Beginning Consignment is good for deep bargains. Sale items — tops, jeans and crop pants — start at 99 cents, and usually don’t go higher than $3. A large selection of men’s casual polo shirts start at $5.95.

The clothes are packed tightly together in hangers and stacked in neat rows. Men's and women’s jeans, shirts, shorts, jackets and belts can be found at every turn. The place also has a system for sale items, with different colored tags representing the percentage discount.

A huge selection of jeans ranges from sizes 2-to-16 for women, and 20-to-40 for men. They have boot-cut, low-waisted, straight-legged and skinny jeans in stock with the average price between $9.95 and $12.95.

Britches, 130 S. Ninth St., 499-1401

If you’re a girl and secondhand or vintage clothing has little appeal, Britches on Ninth Street stocks clothes that might suit your needs.

Ashley Hicks, a senior at MU, said the store is one of her favorites.

The store supplies dresses, shirts, shoes, jeans, pants and accessories. Although normal retail prices for most items are quite expensive — the most expensive jeans at Britches cost $215 — shopping there during sales can score a bargain.

Jeans on sale can cost $50. Dresses normally cost upwards of $40, but during sale are reduced to $19.99. Most tops retail around $25 - $40 normally, but $10 to $20 during sale time.

“They say college is expensive, and it is,” Hicks said, “but not if you know where to look.”

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