From Street Corners to Dorm Decor


Sam Klein

A passerby looks at a table left on the sidewalk.

Amasha Nanayakkara, Contributing Writer

Most NYU students are well-acquainted with hectic, impromptu trips to Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Kmart or other local stores in search of furniture and decorations to squeeze into their shoebox-sized apartments or measly dorm rooms. This shopping experience is usually accompanied by disdain upon seeing the price tags of necessary items, and vain attempts to finagle student discounts. Usually, these trips will end with an eventual departure from the store empty-handed.

However, no student should lose hope until they try the ultimate one-stop shop for all our budget sensitive needs — the streets of New York City. This shopping technique has been tried and approved by many NYU students, and given the vibrant and amazingly strange city we live in, nearly every student has a story to share about a surprising find.

CAS first-year Alex Shpylko was walking near Fourth Avenue and East 10th Street when he made his discovery.

“I found a $200 speaker peeking out of a trash bag,” Shpylko said. “It was in perfect condition with a few scratches on the side.”

Despite the overwhelming urge to ignore the trash bags piled on streets during those rushed trips to class, keep an eye on them next time to save some dollars or even find something you never even thought to buy. Any seasoned street shopper knows that there are a few key rules to follow in order to find that perfect item.

Silver first-year Capri Christianson explained the hustle that goes into snatching up the best street pieces.

“I found a perfectly good headboard and drawers on the street,” Christianson said. “There were other people eyeing it so I grabbed it.”

As long as items on the street are in good shape — especially pieces of furniture, New Yorkers have no qualms about reclaiming them as new for themselves. Christianson also advised where the trash landmines were around the city.

“Keep an eye out on the corners of apartment buildings where they usually pile all the trash,” Christianson said.

You never know when someone else’s moving day will turn into your lucky day.

Of course, when it comes to the New York streets, there are great finds, but there are also some bed bug-ridden finds. Never try to take pillows, couches or upholstered furniture. As a general rule, hard surfaces like wood and plastic are safer than soft or porous surfaces like leather and fabric. Regardless of whatever furniture you’re picking up, be sure to check and clean the pieces before bringing them into your sacred home.

Tisch first-year Marie-Louise Nkashama was extra careful when she found a set of drawers near Brittany Residence Hall.

“I wiped it down with disinfectant wipes and checked inside all the drawers,” Nkashama said.

After following all these safety tips, it can be heartbreaking to haul your find all the way to your residence hall, and then realize it goes against its policy.

This past winter, CAS first-year Candice Medina was walking down University Place and spotted the perfect Christmas decoration — a huge inflated Santa.

“We just had to take him back to our room,” Medina said. “We started to drag the Santa down the street. People were giving us odd looks, but it was so funny and we couldn’t stop laughing.”

Despite Medina’s and her friends’ efforts dragging the blown-up jolly figure down the street, Santa never stood a chance against the security guard at their residence hall.

“When we finally arrived back at Brittany the security guard didn’t let us bring [Santa] in because he would apparently be a fire hazard,” Medina said.

Keep in mind the restrictions of your building, and be wary of bringing back anything unsanitary. Other than a few precautions, be open to the amazing and unexpected items that can be found on the streets of New York City. Give your budget a break this year, and browse through the diverse selections on the streets. Happy shopping.

Email Amasha Nanayakkara at [email protected]