So you just moved into your new digs for the summer and realized that you don’t have a scrap of furniture — not to fret! Take a trek to the coast, and these venues are sure to supply you with enough wares to fill a living space without breaking the bank. You might even have enough cash left over to explore the clothing boutiques, get a tattoo on the Venice Beach boardwalk or splurge on fine dining at that new restaurant around the corner.
1803 Lincoln Blvd., #8
Santa Monica, Calif.
It’s no secret that thrift stores are often home to used furniture at rock-bottom prices, and this Goodwill — just four blocks from Third Street Promenade — is no exception. Plopped across the street from trendy home boutiques sure to induce sticker shock, the donation center and store benefits the community while benefiting from its affluent donors, offering fewer pieces that feel like the worst hits of the ’80s than the average Goodwill branch. There are no guarantees when shopping second-hand, but it’s safe to say that a few side tables, wardrobes and couches will be there to peruse. Arrive early, or the 40-somethings will have already swept in and snatched up the sweetest deals.
Best finds: Victorian-style wooden table clock, $19.99; all glassware, 99 cents.
11961 Santa Monica Blvd.
Sharing a parking lot with the new Chase bank next-door, the unassuming King’s stocks a generous number of factory-direct items, all neatly organized for browsing. Considering the prices mostly beat those at Ikea, the quality is surprisingly good; wooden bed frames are sure to last years, and none of the varnishes or stains look messy or cheap. Simple silhouettes and lightweight but real wooden furniture dominates the store landscape, dotted here and there with suede couches and glass-top tables. The showroom is complete with a (navigable) mountain of occasional and bedside tables starting at less than $50 each in the back corner.
Best finds: oak kitchen table with four chairs, $299; suede loveseat in numerous color choices, $350.
Council Thrift Shop
11801 Santa Monica Blvd.
Disparate from its Goodwill and Salvation Army cousins, this thrift store has all the makings for a shopping haunt. Dark walls covered in art and Motown music greet customers upon entering, and the inexpensive yet classy furnishing section is sure to appease any budget. Two mint-condition Hollywood Regency chairs with walnut frames and raised floral brocade for only $85 each are a good indicator of what’s in store; everything looks like it’s straight out of a glamorous 1950s film. It’s worth browsing outside the home section a bit, too — where else carries vintage Prada purses for $20?
Best finds: wood curio tower, $95; expansive wooden-frame citron couch, $265.
Caprices Furniture Rugs & More
4300 Overland Ave.
Culver City, Calif.
This little hideaway houses things to sleep on, things to sit on, things to eat on and things to store stuff in with costs that won’t set back most college shoppers. Much like King’s, Caprice has furniture made of materials that weren’t (for the most part) produced in laboratories, in chic styles and scales ideal for apartment living. Almost any dining set desired is less than $500, and no searching is required for a legitimate bargain. The store itself is a little sterile, but the steals inside make up for the lack of ambiance. The store displays only a fraction of the products offered online, so remember to check out the website at www.capricefurniture.com.
Best finds: faux leather-suede combination loveseat and chaise with checkered pillows, $399; wood table and four chairs with faux-suede upholstery, $228.
Beit T’Shuvah Thrift Store
10409 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, Calif.
Like an iteration of Council geared toward an older crowd, Beit T’Shuvah has that just-raided-grandma’s-living-room feel that so many thrift shops have with the distinction that every item is in impeccable condition. Somewhat famous for its selection of fur coats, Beit T’Shuvah has, in addition to gently used designer wear and housewares, a decent-sized separate wing of furniture. Signs instruct buyers not to sit on the merchandise, ensuring that the lightly handled pieces stay that way until they find their way into a living room. This also means that none of the upholstery need be replaced or covered up — unless, of course, it’s hideous. Most furniture is too bulky or too expensive for student housing, but the pieces that are not too large are very reasonably priced for the quality.
Best finds: chenille loveseat and sofa set, $425; table and four chairs with oak tops and white legs, $85.
Wertz Brothers Inc.
11879 Santa Monica Blvd.
Walking into this warehouse-style mecca is a bit like entering the Amazon — bird calls echo throughout the cavernous interior and there are enough exotic woods to rebuild a fraction of the rainforest. Three parrots whistle and play call-and-response with the customers as they wind their way through labyrinthine heaps of every piece of furniture imaginable. Block out a few hours to really explore the passages of this two-story retreat and come away with exactly what you were looking for — if not today, then tomorrow or the next day, as stock is updated daily. Don’t be fooled, though; not every piece is a bargain. If something is made of Brazilian rosewood, or rhino hide (no kidding) or is 18th century English, these purveyors are sure to know it and inflate the price accordingly, like any furniture dealer worth its salt.
Best finds: bachelor-pad-ready three-piece sectional, $395; side tables starting at $49.99.