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Five indispensable stops for thrifting in the Springs

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Veteran vintagers and thrifters are still mourning the demise of Swish and the Leechpit this past summer, but fear not, callow cardigan-wearing youths. The Springs still has plenty to offer in the way of second-hand duds, whether you need a flapper costume for that Gatsby-themed party or just want to fill out your oh-so-retro vinyl collection.

It's a rite of passage for students that doesn't gouge too large a hole into what's supposed to be your textbook budget. What's more, we found plenty to outfit your limbs, library and living space even if your dreams don't involve taking first prize in a Betty Draper look-alike contest.

Arc Thrift Stores

Multiple locations, arcthrift.com

It's the Wal-Mart of thrift stores: vast, wide-ranging and commercial, but with the feel-good of knowing that funds go toward assisting those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It's where you go for a cheap mattress or that natty 1960s sewing table. (Of course you need one.)

Organization may not be intuitive, but that only heightens the thrill of the hunt: Reaching past your mother's Croft & Barrow for that peacock feather-patterned polyester blouse never felt like such a coup. Use the same strategy in the sizable records section to score your own copy of Camelot, the Musical for a pittance.

If you're not sure where to start, head over to the tchotchkes. There's a ceramic jar labeled "Baby Fund" that needs to be irreverently repurposed as "Gin Fund."

Bargain Book Warehouse

102 W. Cucharras St., 475-8091, trillionbooks.com

Remember that bookstore that you spent hours in as a kid? The one with sparse lighting, dusty shelves, two resident felines and a selection to kill for? Even if you didn't grow up to become yet another English major, this is as close as you'll get to that childhood nirvana.

There's a good mix of near-contemporary titles, spy thrillers and 100-level literature classics (hello, $5 Norton Anthology), but in deference to your guiltier pleasures, there's also an entire section labeled "Paranormal Romance." And if you're the kind of heathen who prefers e-readers to hardcovers, you may have to seriously reconsider the priceless aesthetic value of the '70s-era space opera dust jackets.

Goodwill

Multiple locations, discovermygoodwill.org

For those of you suffering from chronic chain-store fatigue, there's nothing quite like wandering through the doors of your neighborhood Goodwill, where the air is pure and the racks are arranged according to a preschooler's color palette. The Kelly Johnson Boulevard location, for example, has an entire rack devoted to the formulation of your Canadian tuxedo.

If the Arc is where you go for eclectic records and basic furniture, Goodwill is where you'll have the best chance at finding some quality French cookware or a gently used tandem bike — that pressurized, sparkly lump of carbon in the rough. But it does hawk some basic necessities of college life, too, like a combination pool and ping-pong table or another couch for your Walking Dead marathons. Each location is unique, and proceeds go toward Goodwill's extensive social outreach in the community.

Repeat Performance

829 N. Union Blvd., 633-1325

It's like stepping into a life-size version of an I Spy book. Repeat Performance is a hoarder's palace (in the very best sense) operated by a discerning German lady for the past 30 years, possibly making it the most authentic vintage shop in town.

I challenge you to spot a square inch of wall space in this museum of well-curated miscellany — it's jam packed with retro clothing, unblinking dolls by the dozens, be-wigged mannequins and that life-size Mr. Peanut costume that you didn't know you were looking for. Leave your bag in the car (there's that little space) and plan on several return trips to be able to take it all in. You could just as easily walk out with a period cloche as a goldish-painted, neutered cherubim on a plinth to confound your new roommate.

Mountain Equipment Recyclers

1024 S. Tejon St., 210-6427, merecyclers.com

This is the thrifty triathlete's — or decathlete's — best-kept secret. But even if you don't aspire to such lofty heights of personal fitness and masochism, Mountain Equipment Recyclers is constantly changing second-hand stock is a treasure trove for the budding mountain men, cyclists and skiers that find REI's pricing ill-suited to their scholarly means.

With deeply discounted quality brands and a wide range of gear and activewear, you can buy or rent everything you need for a weekend camping trip or a bluebird day on the slopes. Plus, you get extra brownie points for shopping at a business that donates much of their profits to military charities and offers coveted bags of locally roasted UpaDowna-label coffee. And if you don't find your Pearl Izumi cycling jersey on the first visit, there's a good chance it'll be there next week.

cswinford@csindy.com

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