The Hard Times Handbook - Page 2

Free food, music, and movies. Cheap drinks, dates, and dining. Plus much, much more in our guide to surviving these tough times in style
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When this happens, Just get in the queue — you can request as many as 15 items simultaneously online (you do have a library card, right?) You'll get an e-mail when your item comes in and you can check the status of your list any time you log in. Keep DVDs a full seven days (three weeks for books and CDs) and return 'em to any branch you like.

I've deepened my music knowledge, read a broader range of books, and canceled GreenCine. Instead, I enjoy a steady flow of free shit coming my way each week. And if I get bored or the novelty of Baby Mama wears off, I return it and free up space in my mind (and on my shelf) for more. (Virginia Miller)

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STYLE FOR A SONG

Shhh. The first rule about thrifting, to paraphrase mobsters and hardcore thrift-store shoppers, is don't talk about thrifting — and that means the sites of your finest thrift scores. Diehard thrifters guard their favorite shops with jealous zeal: they know exactly what it's like to wade through scores of stained T-shirts, dress-for-success suits, and plastic purses and come up with zilcherooni. They also know what it's like to ascend to thrifter nirvana, an increasingly rarified plane where vintage Chanel party shoes and cool dead-stock Western wear are sold for a song.

Friendships have been trashed and shopping carts upended in the revelation of these much-cherished thrift stores, where the quest for that '50s lamb's fur jacket or '80s acid-washed zipper jeans — whatever floats your low-budg boat — has come to a rapturous conclusion. It's a war zone, shopping on the cheap, out there — and though word has it that the thrifting is excellent in Vallejo and Fresno, our battle begins at home. When the sample sales, designer runoff outlets, resale dives, and consignment boutiques dry up, here's where you'll find just what you weren't looking for — but love, love, love all the same.

Community Thrift, 623 Valencia, SF. (415) 861-4910, www.communitythrift.bravehost.com. Come for the writer's own giveaways (you can bequeath the funds raised to any number of local nonprofits), and leave with the rattan couches, deco bureaus, records, books and magazines, and an eccentric assortment of clothing and housewares. I'm still amazed at the array of intriguing junk that zips through this spot, but act fast or you'll miss snagging that Victorian armoire.

Goodwill As-Is Store, 86 11th St., SF. (415) 575-2197, www.sfgoodwill.org. This is the archetype and endgamer of grab-and-tumble thrifting. We're talking bins, people — bins of dirt cheap and often downright dirty garb that the massive Goodwill around the corner has designated unsuitable, for whatever reason. Dive into said bins, rolled out by your, ahem, gracious Goodwill hosts throughout the day, along with your competition: professional pickers for vintage shops, grabby vintage people, and ironclad bargain hunters. They may not sell items by the pound anymore — now its $2.25 for a piece of adult clothing, 50 cents to $1 for babies' and children's garb, $4 for leather jackets, etc. — but the sense of triumph you'll feel when you discover a tattered 1930s Atonement-style poison-ivy green gown, or a Dr. Pimp-enstein rabbit-fur patchwork coat, or cheery 1950s tablecloths with negligible stainage, is indescribable.

Goodwill Industries, 3801 Third St., SF. (415) 641-4470, www.sfgoodwill.org Alas, not all Goodwills are created equal: some eke out nothing but stale mom jeans and stretched-out polo shirts. But others, like this Hunter's Point Goodwill, abound with on-trend goodies. At least until all of you thrift-hungry hordes grab my junk first.