When constructing a undergraduate habitat, be it in a dormitory or Greek flophouse, no establishment is more valuable to an impoverished incoming freshman than a thrift store. Stick around in Boise for more than a semester, however, and one will realize that each local born-again boutique has its own specialties. One may be perfect for couches, another for tapes of old cartoons, while yet another flaunts stacks of Robert Goulet records ideal for Secret Santa-ing. What they all share, however, is the potential to deliver The Find: that special shirt, sculpture or trinket that is conversation piece, mascot and sexual talisman in one. Here are five dives in which to blow an afternoon but not a wad, along with a hidden gem I unearthed in each.
10475 Fairview Ave., 377-2001
For many Boise college students, the name Savers is synonymous with thrift store. The sole reason: clothes. For the metro male, pearly-button cowboy shirts and polyester pants abound in the "Men's Retro and Old Fashioned" section, unless I have targeted them first. For the punky lass, check out the heaps of hoodies and navel-baring t-shirts with kitschy logos sure to wow your easily wowable friends. Factor in army uniforms, athletic jerseys and housecoats galore for costumed dorm debauchery, and Savers becomes the clear hand-me-down hub.
Find: Fringed suede motorcycle jacket, $19.99, T-shirt reading "Someone in the Pentagon loves me", $.49.
10740 Fairview Ave., 375-4681
Sure, the "creepy baby doll" quotient is a little higher than at Savers, but D.I. counteracts this blemish with an intriguing selection of board games of both the dated and way-dated variety. Bring back an original "Operation" or "MTV: Remote Control" to the dorm and you will be a hero. Tote a 2' by 3' Bible verse puzzle, and you can cement your status as Mr. or Mrs. Ironic Study Break. Offer one of the numerous Raffi or C+C Music Factory tapes along the back wall, and you'll be lucky to make it through freshman year alive.
Find: An unsettling board game titled "Ungame: Speak out and touch someone," $1.99.
GOODWILL INDUSTRIES STORE
1465 South Vinnell Way, 321-9172
Finding Goodwill may prove adventure enough for Boise newbies, as the blue and white thrift warehouse is obscurely located behind an A&W and a women's golf store on the south side of the freeway. Once inside, though, I challenge anyone under the age of 25 not to find at least one thoroughly useless yet impossible to resist item with which to doll-up a dorm hovel. Check out the sky-high heap of wicker blobs, surrounded by long-dead toys, cocktail glasses and beer cozies every color of the rainbow.
Find: Spray can of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle "Sewer String," $.99.
IDAHO YOUTH RANCH
1417 W. Main, 343-2506
250 N. Orchard St., 378-8081
If Savers is sovereign for thrift store clothes, then the Youth Ranch holds the same throne for vinyl records, books, coffee mugs and weird art. Both the Main St. and Orchard St. versions are ideal starting points in the search for an Elvis clock, wall-sized kitten glamour shot, a mug reading, "Lefthanders do it backwards" or anything else to escalate a decorative arms race between roommates. The Ranch is also the best stop for a cheap television, if one does not mind the two-ton oak-encased variety.
Find: Drinking cup shaped like Shamu, with a straw going in the blowhole. $.99
ST. VINCENT DE PAUL THRIFT STORE
6454 W. State St., 854-4921
St. Vinnie's is a thrift store in the classical sense: cheap, moderately organized and full of items that look as if they were hauled from the homes of dead people. Old workout machines slouch like crushed insects on the front sidewalk. Shoes are available by the bag-full for $1. Old shirts are heavy on the paisleys, and old toys are crammed into his and hers grab bags. Any of the above, disinfected and custom-painted, could be the perfect tool to take a freshman fling to the next level of shmoopiness. Just tell her you are an "outsider artist."
Find: Book: The Six Million Dollar Man's Bionic Brain Benders, $.25.