Tag Archives: shopping

Is it a Rip-Off?: SoCo Edition

South Congress district, usually referred to as SoCo, is one of Austin’s most popular attractions for tourists and locals alike. It’s full of unique shops and funky restaurants — and half of them are complete rip-offs. So I’m here to tell you what’s best and what’s a mess. This week’s subject: SoCo.

  1. Jo’s Coffee 
Photo courtesy of: The Austin Chronicle 

Verdict: Worth it!

Why: You may say there are better places for coffee in Austin and you’re probably right, but Jo’s isn’t just selling specialized coffee, they’re also selling an experience. You can get a one-of-a-kind cup of jo (pun intended), the feeling of supporting a local business and an Instagram-worthy picture in front of the iconic “I love you so much” mural.  Seems worth it to me!

  1. Hopdoddy’s Burger Bar
Image courtesy of: Flickr and Thomas Hawk

Verdict: Rip-Off!

Why: The burgers are good but are they worth $10? I don’t think so. Combine this with having to pay an extra $5 for some fries and brutal wait times, and you have all the makings of a total rip-off. 

  1. TOMS
Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Verdict: Rip-Off

Why: Honestly, this feels like a given. $50-$150 for mediocre shoes according to Vox reporting. Not to mention, having a huge company on SoCo feels wrong. The space is supposed to be for off-beat local— or at least semi-local businesses— not national giants. 

  1. Home Slice Pizza
Photo courtesy of: The Business Journals

Verdict: Worth It

Why: I have two words for you: Garlic Knots. When paired with a slice or two of Home Slice’s mouth-watering pizza, complimentary post-dinner candy and the electric decor, you can’t deny this is the place to be on a Friday night. 

  1. Amy’s Ice Creams 
Photo Courtesy of: Flickr and Jim Nix 

Verdict: Rip-Off AND Worth It

Why: I’ll be real. This place is pricey! One pint of ice cream costs almost $15. In that way, it’s a huge rip-off, but it’s also so worth it. All of the ice creams have a delicious sweet cream base and the menu is constantly full of one-of-a-kind flavors like Zilker Mint Chip. After snacking at Amy’s, your wallet may hurt but your taste buds will be singing. 

Now go forward and strut down SoCo with a Jo’s latte in one hand and your Home Slice leftovers in the other. You’re ready for this! You won’t be scammed today.

Featured image by Morgan Scruggs

Spring 2021 Fashion: Step Out of Your Comfort Zone and Into Spring

Spring is upon us and now is the perfect time to get caught up on spring fashion trends! Check out our list of the six hottest fashion trends of Spring 2021 and take your pick of what stylish pieces you’ll be strutting around campus in.

1. Statement Sunglasses
First on the list is statement glasses! Spring is all about enjoying the sun and Austin’s warm weather before the summer heat makes it unbearable. Grab a pair of cool shades, maybe even color coordinate them with your outfit, and head out for a picnic with friends or to one of your in-person classes.

2. Silk Scarves
These stunning scarfs can be found all over TikTok, especially in the super popular “Please Don’t Go” headscarf trend. There are so many ways to style them and unique prints you’re bound to find something that works for you. For a summery look, tie a scarf around your ponytail or fold it into a triangle and wear it like a bandana. To add a little extra something to your outfit, tie a scarf around your neck or tie one to the straps of your favorite purse. Looking for somewhere local to pick one up? Visit Flamingo’s Vintage located just north of campus.

3. Print Button Downs
Looking to transition your wardrobe from winter to spring? Bring back some of your favorite button downs! Rather than wear them buttoned up, pull them over your favorite cami and your all set! Not only are you protected from the sun, you also have something to keep you warm at sunset.

4. Lingerie
Lingerie is no longer just for the bedroom! Some of your favorite pieces might be your new favorite going out outfit. Consider wearing a lacey slip dress or tucking a dainty cami into a pair of jeans. If you’re looking to go a step further, consider also incorporating an underbust corset.

5. Long, Flowy Skirts
This spring is all about statement pieces. Printed long skirts offer modesty and are just flowy enough to keep you cool as temperatures rev up. For an edgier look, pair them with a classic pair of docs. For a softer vibe, throw on your favorite pair of sandals!


6. Anything Vintage
Wearing vintage is all the rage. Not to mention, you’ll never have to worry about showing up in the same outfit as someone else ever again. Wondering what to get? Vintage dresses are a great option if you’re looking for a retro take on a sundress. You can also never go wrong with a bright 80s windbreaker paired with your favorite t-shirt and denim shorts.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and start rocking your favorite spring trends. And perhaps, bring a friend and a mask and check out local thrift and vintage stores for a new piece or two to spice up your wardrobe.

Photos by Ren Breach

How To Online Thrift Like A Pro

We all have that one friend who can skillfully find almost anyone online, whether you’re searching for an old ex’s new girlfriend or a mysterious acquaintance. I have a similar talent, but rather than to people, my internet searching skills apply to finding clothing and accessories.

It all started in 10th grade when I saw a Paris Sport Club jacket on Depop when the app first began to gain popularity. I was stingy back then, and for some reason I can’t recall, decided not to spend $20, a small price to pay, on an amazing vintage jacket. 

That small decision haunted me for the next few years. Every few months I’d think of that jacket and regret having made the choice that I did. Fast forward, almost 5 years later, I am now a proud owner of a Paris Sport Club jacket, identical to the one from all those years ago.

Left: The Paris Sport Club jacket that got me into online thrifting. Image Courtesy of @Crossmyheartvintage on Depop
Right: My Paris Sport Club jacket I purchased on eBay. Image Courtesy of Lauren Breach

You see, every few months, when I’d randomly remember that jacket, I’d spend hours searching for it online. As the years went by, I refined my online searching skills and eventually learned how to find almost anything on a reselling site. While most of my friends agree I was a little too invested in finding this jacket, my ability to find prom dresses and limited edition sneakers that came out of this journey has led me to gain appreciation from my more skeptical friends. 

With Covid-19 preventing many of us from going out in the ways we used to, now is the perfect time to share some of my top tips for finding pieces online. Whether it be a toy from your childhood or a pair of jeans you’ve outgrown and miss dearly, these tips will help you find what you’re looking for.

1. Try various combinations of phrases in your searches

Oftentimes, products are listed on reselling sites without their brand names or key descriptors. For this reason, I recommend starting with a more refined search such as “black lesportsac gabrielle bag” and switching to more broad phrasing, such as “lesportsac purse” if you aren’t able to find what you’re looking for. Oftentimes, people don’t take the time to properly list items with the item name from the store they originally came from. On occasion, sometimes it’s even worth forgoing brand name altogether when looking for a piece. For example, I once found a bag posted on an influencer’s page three years ago by sorting through thousands of listings using the search “black leather purse”. It took hours but I’d argue it was 100% worth the effort since I now use that bag every single day.

Left: Ellie Thumann pictured with the black purse I was searching for online. Image Courtesy of @Elliethumann on Instagram
Right: My black purse, identical to Ellie’s bag, that I found on Poshmark for $5. Image Courtesy of Lauren Breach

2. Search various online reselling sites

Most people typically start with Depop and if their search turns up empty stop there. Depop is one of the most popular reselling apps among teenagers which is largely why it can be hard to find trendy items. It’s also not uncommon for Depop users to markup items for ridiculous prices. Just a few weeks ago I saw a Kim Possible lunchbox I had when I was seven sell for $50. I recommend searching Poshmark, Mercari, eBay and even Etsy in addition to Depop, prices are typically cheaper on these sites and they often have larger selections. 

3. Check back every few months

Sometimes, you won’t find what you’re looking for on your first go, but don’t get discouraged. It’s worth it to keep checking. Sometimes, it can take months, but the satisfaction of having found something you regretted not getting can be amazing. Every time I wear that Paris Sport Club jacket, I feel like I stepped out of one of my favorite 80s movies and the hours searching feel worth it. 

4. If all else fails, get something similar or modify a purchase

On occasion, your searches will lead you to find something even better than what you initially went searching for, so don’t forget to be open to other possibilities. Also, if you’re unable to find exactly what you’re looking for, consider getting it in a different color if available. Using dyes like RIT dye or customizing items with embroidery or patches can help you get the desired look, even if you can’t find the exact item.

At the end of the day, I always recommend shopping locally at thrift stores over going online. However, sometimes, when you can’t find what you want locally, online reselling retailers offer a great alternative. Online reselling stores also offer a second chance for thrifted and vintage items and an opportunity to support small online businesses.

Things to do, see, & eat in colorado springs

Colorado is gaining popularity as both an ideal place to live as well as an Instagram worthy travel destination. Not only is Colorado absolutely gorgeous (I mean come on- it inspired the song “America the Beautiful” by Katharine Lee Bates) but it also has something for outdoor enthusiasts, shoppers, and foodies alike. This summer I was lucky enough to go on a road trip through Colorado and stopped in Colorado Springs, Denver, and Boulder. Since Colorado Springs was my personal favorite and first stop, this guide will focus on what this scenic, vibrant city has to offer. Keep reading for some major travel inspiration and tips.

Things to Do & See

Hike at Garden of the Gods

Photo by Courtney Smith

Garden of the Gods is home to stunning sandstone formations and boasts an array of activities from hiking to Jeep tours. While there is no wrong way to explore this famous national landmark, hiking it is a truly special experience. Upon entering the park are some of the tallest formations that create impressive views both up close and far away as you venture onto different trails. The Perkins Center Garden Trail begins at the main parking lot and is an easy 1 ½ mile round trip journey that is paved and accessible to wheelchairs and strollers. If you don’t have time for much exploring at least do that trail to get up close and personal with some beautiful formations. Other great trails to take include the Palmer Trail (3 miles and away from traffic) as well as the Buckskin Charlie Trail (dramatic distance views). The park is free admission and parking so on top of being a classic Colorado Springs activity it’s easy on the wallet.

Visit the Manitou Cliff Dwellings 

Photo by Courtney Smith

Manitou Springs is located across the highway from Colorado Springs and is an adorable, culturally rich mountain town. It’s also home to Native American architecture known as the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. You are allowed to go inside the dwellings as well as touch them which makes it a really unique and interactive place to visit. Unless you’re a total history junkie the Cliff Dwellings are a pretty quick place to visit and go through which makes this an easy thing to fit into your trip. The cost is only $10 for adults and is free to those in wheelchairs.

Shop in Downtown/Historic Manitou Springs

Photo by Courtney Smith

Downtown Manitou Springs is home to many interesting shops that both locals and tourists can enjoy. Parking is not too hard to find and everything is quite close together which makes this an easy thing to do to fill up a morning or afternoon. The storefronts range from new to old and have a ton of character so it’s never difficult to find a picture-worthy spot or a fascinating store. Mixed in amongst the unique shops are souvenir shops that also allow you to pick up any souvenirs you want or promised to others. The Penny Arcade is a fun stop where you can play old fashioned arcade games for low prices and for all ages.

Drive to the Pikes Peak Summit

Photo by Courtney Smith

Pikes Peak has an elevation of a little over 14,000 feet and has been a Colorado travel staple for years. The drive to the summit includes breathtaking views, places to stop and shop/eat, photo opportunities, and hiking trails. It is extremely chilly at the top (it was 32 degrees when I went in June) so be sure to bring a jacket and dress in layers. Right now there is some construction so there is a park and shuttle system that is explained as you make your way to the top. This is an absolute must while in Colorado Springs and costs $15 per adult.

Challenge Yourself and Hike the Manitou Incline

Photo by Courtney Smith

The Manitou Incline is rated as “difficult” and isn’t for the faint of heart. With 2,744 steps and a 2,000 foot incline in slightly less than a mile, it takes some serious grit. Reaching the summit depends on fitness level and crowdedness on the incline but usually takes around an hour. It can get very steep so if you’re short (like me) or want some extra stability, I recommend hiking poles and good shoes. There are places along the incline to pull off to rest, refuel, and take pictures. The views are incredible and you definitely feel accomplished after reaching the top. After you climb the steps you follow the famous Barr Trail down to the parking lot for about 4 ½ miles. Plan on taking plenty of water, snacks, and a charged phone. There is a shuttle system to take you from Hiawatha Gardens building parking lot to the base of the incline for free. I did this and it was easier than finding a meter. Admission to the incline is also free. Good luck!

Places to Eat

Garden of the Gods Market & Cafe

Photo by Courtney Smith

Not only is this the perfect stop on the way to the park itself but it has an incredibly nice aesthetic inside. If you’ve ever been to Magnolia Table in Waco, Texas, this cafe has a similar feel. It’s light, airy, and perfect for brunch. The menu has a lot of tasty options and includes things like a daily quiche (my selection), hash, pancakes, french toast- basically all of your brunch essentials. Pricing is definitely moderate (about $13 per plate) but the quality and quantity of the food is well worth it. 

Urban Steam

Photo by Courtney Smith

Okay…maybe I’m brunch obsessed, but maybe Colorado Springs has an awesome brunch scene. Urban steam describes itself as selling “espresso, waffles, whiskey, [and] good times.” While it isn’t in the heart of downtown and you will need to drive or Uber it still packs a major brunch punch. The waffles were some of the best I have ever had and the coffee was smooth and delicious. With menu item names like “monkey-wrench” and “greasy granny” you know it’s going to be good. My waffles came with Nutella, bananas, whipped cream, walnuts, caramel sauce, and chocolate sauce. Needless to say it was an easy 10/10. Urban Steam also offers plenty of other items and cocktails to make it worth your while.

Sahara Cafe

Photo by Courtney Smith

Located in Manitou Springs, Sahara Cafe serves up tasty Middle Eastern cuisine. They feature all of the classic items you’d expect such as falafel, gyro, delicious salads, hummus plates, and chicken/beef shawarma. Pricing is really affordable here- make any sandwich a combo for $10.99 including a drink and a side. Portions are great for fueling your day or for sharing. It’s conveniently located near all of the shopping and sightseeing to do downtown as well.

Josh & John’s Ice Cream

Photo by Courtney Smith

What’s better than ice cream that’s slow churned with high quality ingredients? Nothing. Literally nothing. Josh & John’s Ice Cream is full of satisfying, dense flavor- but be prepared to wait if you go at a peak time. Locals love this place and once you have their Colorado Cookies and Cream or other signature flavor, you’ll be hooked too. 

Colorado Springs is a perfect destination for those looking to beat the Texas heat, get out in nature, do a little shopping, or explore a tasty local food scene. While Colorado is the perfect road trip destination, flight costs aren’t bad either, making it a solid choice for spring or summer travel on a college budget.

Saving Money and Looking Great

The temperatures are rising, the sun is out longer, it’s almost spring and that means a new wardrobe is needed.

It’s time for new spring outfits, but these days it’s hard to find great clothes without breaking your bank – unless you’re looking in the right places. Here is a list of some great places in Austin to find cheap and cute clothes.

Savers

5222 Burnet Rd #600, Austin, TX 78756

Thrift stores have been on the rise for years now. The clothes are vintage and allow for creative outfits to help standout. Savers sells a variety of good quality, cheap second hand clothing and shoppers can donate to help their community.

Photo by Lauren Breach

Blue Elephant

4001 N Lamar Blvd #510, Austin, TX 78756

A high-end boutique for women’s apparel, they have cute graphic t-shirts of Austin and other designs. Their prices are around the medium range with most of their shirts priced at around $30. A great stop for lovers of graphic tees.

Photo by Lauren Breach

Uptown Cheapskate

3005 S Lamar Blvd #110-A, Austin, TX 78704

Another thrift style store with great clothes and low prices. Shoppers can donate their clothes and receive to potentially go buy more clothes. The store features brands like Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters and Nike.

H&M

The Domain

This clothing chain has been popular for their affordable clothing for both women and men. Shoppers can find tops at prices as low as $10 with fun and simple designs. They also have business attire at comparably low prices.

Photo by Lauren Breach

Target

5621 N Interstate Hwy 35, Austin, TX 78723

Everyone knows that Target is a good place to buy groceries, but did you know they also have cute cheap clothes? Their clothes are chic, great quality and inexpensive. They also have nice purses for women and sunglasses for women and men. Don’t just get your groceries at Target, get some clothes as well.