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Your Guide to College Shopping

As summer winds down and you start getting ready to head off to your freshman year of college (or your kid is at least), it’s time to start thinking about shopping for your dorm room! Several stores around town have very good deals for college shopping. Bed Bath and Beyond allows you to go around the store with a scanner, choosing the items you want. Once you are at school, you can pick up your purchases at the store closest to your college. You pay when you pick up the items, so if you decide something is not necessary or you want another item, it is a painless fix. That option certainly allows for easier packing. I bought everything from pillows to towels to a standing lamp at Bed Bath and Beyond last year, and simply went to the store five minutes from my school and picked up my items the day I moved in. Bed Bath and Beyond has a special section on its website for college shopping. To simplify the process, it organizes the items they sell for dorms into categories: Sleep, Eat, Wash, Study, Organize, Breathe, and Chill, which makes it a little bit harder to forget important (or even totally useless!) items. It also provides a checklist and Bed Bath and Beyond’s “Top 5 Must-Haves.”

The Container Store in White Plains had a College Night earlier this summer with 20% off the entire store, but the two New York City stores, located on Sixth Avenue and on 58th and Lex, have their College Nights coming up next week on August 3rd and 4th respectively. While those nights can get very busy, they are actually a lot of fun and can offer pretty good savings. I think The Container Store is the best place to get hangers, stacking drawers, bulletin boards, lap desks, closet organizers, and basically anything you could think of to squeeze into your small dorm room. The Container Store’s website has a dorm organization section as well as a section called “Dorm Room Basic Six” for organizing a dorm room: Closet, Wall and Doors, Desk, Laundry, Bath, and Storage. The website also has tips and ideas for dorm rooms, such as how to maximize the small space of a dorm room and tips for moving in.

I struggled to find bedding that I liked. For girls, Urban Outfitters has some good options, but because of the lack of Urban Outfitters stores in this area, it is probably easiest to order online. Anthropologie is another great option for bedding, although it is a little expensive. Bed Bath and Beyond also has some nice and affordable bedding, as does Crate and Barrel. Be sure to get Twin Extra-Long bedding. I love the really soft sheets that feel like an old t-shirt, and Garnet Hill is having a sale on those sheets right now.

Ikea and Target are great places to look as well, and they also have nice things for upperclassmen moving into apartments. Target’s website also has a college section where they offer some great lounge chairs, futons, desk chairs (if you want to bring your own), and some nice posters and decals for the walls.

I don’t think having a TV in your room is all that important at school, especially given how many shows are now available online, but Costco does have well-priced TV’s. In terms of a microwave and fridge, I would recommend seeing if your college has a MicroFridge rental service because if you rent one for the year, they deliver it right to your room when you move in, making the move-in process that much easier.

Other really great things to bring are extension cords (but make sure your college does not have restrictions on those first), iPod speakers, fans (older dorms get very hot), a printer, and perhaps most importantly, an alarm clock! As much as I love my cell phone, that alarm is way too easy to dismiss and then fall right back asleep. Having some posters for your walls is a good idea, and has thousands of posters to choose from, including paintings, pictures, and posters from movies or TV Shows. Right now they are having a back to school poster sale online.

Here is packing list taken mostly from the Bed Bath and Beyond website with a few omissions. Enjoy!

Plates and Bowls
Coffee Cups
Water Bottle
Travel Mugs

2 sheet sets
Pillow Protectors
Mattress Pad
Comforter or Quilt
Duvet Cover
Air Mattress (for guests)
Alarm Clock

(Lots of) towels and wash cloths
Toothbrush, Toothpaste
Shampoo, Conditioner
Body Wash
Face Wash
Hair Iron/Blowdryer
Makeup Mirror
Shower basket

Lounge chair
Picture frames
Wall art
iPod Speakers

Desk Lamp
Waste Basket
Bulletin Board
Light Bulbs
Extension Cord
Floor Lamp
School Supplies (pens, pencils, notebooks, folders, highlighters, notecards - easiest to get at school bookstore)

Drawer organizers
Shoe storage
Sweater/Garment Storage
Drying Rack
Pop-Up Hamper
Hand Vacuum