Graduation day means many things to many people. For parents, it’s freedom from tuition bills. For professors, it’s time away from the classroom to pursue research and writing. For graduates, it’s an entry into the real world of grownups or the less-than-real world of grad school. For savvy locals, it’s a chance to score some great deals.
If you live in or near a college town, graduation marks one of the best sales of the year. There are so many good things about it. The action occurs in a small geographical area (at student rentals surrounding the campus). Sales are concentrated into a single weekend (the one that follows final exams). Sellers are extremely motivated (they’re skipping town and there’s stuff that doesn’t fit in their cars).
You’ll see loads of lamps and desks, tables and chairs, bikes and sporting equipment, and boxes upon boxes of books. All of it has to go. And it sells for pennies on the dollar or gets kicked curbside under a sign that says “FREE.”
Most college terms end in May or June. I write this post in April so that there’s plenty of time to plan ahead. A short checklist walks you through the process.
□ Mark the Date
Look up graduation day for the local college(s). Docket the day(s) on your calendar.
□ Make a List
Write down the stuff you need. For me this year, it’s a couple of tennis rackets, a bike repair stand, and Folger Library paperbacks of Shakespeare plays.
□ Search the Ads
During the week before commencement ceremonies, scour Criagslist and college newspaper(s). Note the addresses of any promising sales.
□ Take an Off-Campus Tour
On graduation weekend, cruise through student rental areas. Bring cash.
□ Don’t Forget Nearby Secondhand Stores
During the week before and after commencement, step up your visits to thrift stores. New graduates donate a glut of stuff and it takes time for it to move through the shops’ sorting systems.
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At this once-per-year event, the sellers are many and the buyers few. Don’t let the opportunity for savings pass you buy.