So you've got your own place now. Awesome. Only problem is things are looking a little bare. You're using a stack of old newspapers as a nightstand, and the futon in the corner is starting to seem a little grungy. It's time to pimp out the pad. Skip the big-box stores, which have trapped every college student since the dawn of time, unless you want your living room to be as indiscernible from your neighbor's as Waldo is in a crowd of red and white. Plus there are plenty of local stores that'll furnish your house without breaking the bank.
If you live downtown, your first stop should be the Habitat for Humanity ReStore on Meeting Street. Habitat for Humanity has 825 stores across North America, and while each is different, they are all dedicated to the same mission. Each ReStore accepts donations of new or gently used building materials and furniture from the surrounding community, then sells the donations to the public at a (hugely) discounted price, which is perfect if you're living off ramen noodles and have a cringe-worthy bank account balance. While you're enjoying those super low prices, you can give your conscience a boost, too, since all of the ReStore's proceeds go toward Habitat. Think of it like this: You buy a cheap couch and Habitat gets the money to build somebody a house. Right on. They've got a second, bigger store on Johns Island too.
The great thing about North Chuck is that it's got some of the cheapest furniture shops in the city. If you're in the area and looking to blow some cash on lamps and coffee tables, definitely stop by the Celadon Outlet on Noisette Boulevard. Not to be confused with the store in Mt. Pleasant (which is a little on the pricey side), the outlet is a 12,000-square-foot warehouse filled with overstocks and furniture that took a little wear and tear in the shipping process. With new inventory added every week, there's always a great deal going on. Just make sure you plan your week accordingly — the warehouse is only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
If you're hanging around West Ashley, Cobwebs is right off of Wappoo Road and looking to make a deal. It's got over 6,000 square feet of used furniture and is a great option if you want to rock the retro antique look. And if you're covered on the couches and dining tables, they also have tons of electronics and appliances for sale. Flatscreen TV, anyone?
Mt. Pleasant also has a couple of options for broke college kids. Lowcountry Consignments and Victoria's Furniture are sister consignment shops that mark down their prices every day. In fact, the owner says that while her policy is to only keep furniture on the floor for 60 days, they never end up lasting that long.