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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: University Boulevard needs more affordable shopping options for college students

Main Gate Square is a popular destination for Tucsonans and tourists alike, with restaurants and cafes, accessories, a pharmacy and convenience store, and pretty much anything else you could need.

Situated within Main Gate Square is University Boulevard. Lined with shopping attractions and various eateries, the street is constantly packed with college kids doing homework and hanging out. It’s a little slice of Tucson, and its proximity to campus essentially renders the street Wildcat territory.

It’s convenient and time efficient for students to get some shopping done in free time on campus, and the stores along University Boulevard are especially useful for students who live on or around campus. Why commute miles off campus to shop when there are stores just a hop, skip and a jump from home?

Well, here’s a compelling reason — those stores are a complete rip-off.

University Boulevard is riddled with high-end chains like Urban Outfitters and American Apparel and pricey boutiques, where you pay more for the brand name than the clothes themselves. It’s common knowledge that these designer stores don’t sell inexpensive clothing. At the time of writing, the “Women’s Best Sellers” category on the American Apparel website lists jeans that range from $78 to $94. The University Boulevard location is not exempt from those high prices.

And the sale racks at these stores can only get you so far — even after the greatest markdown, the prices are still too high for many students’ budgets.

Suddenly, the convenience doesn’t seem so valuable anymore.

Here’s the deal: college kids don’t make up the wealthiest demographic. Despite this, our most convenient shopping options are far beyond a healthy price range for the average college student. Between tuition, books, living expenses, savings and everything else we have to pay for, we don’t need to be buying jeans with a sticker price exorbitantly higher than the cost of their production. Even the most financially well-off students would benefit if they resisted the allure of the brand name.

Granted, resistance to the allure of overpriced clothes would be much easier if the street had other options. What if a thrift store opened on University Boulevard? For some, it would mean suddenly being able to shop on University Boulevard rather than having to go elsewhere for clothing. For others, it would result in the chance to try a new shopping experience. For everyone, it would mean lower prices.

And because such a store would be a feasible option for a larger population of shoppers, I wouldn’t be surprised if sales were high. A great number of purchases could add up quickly, making it a win-win for all parties involved.

Of course, clothing is a form of self-expression, and it’s important to feel good in what you wear. It’s unreasonable to expect everyone to love the idea of a thrift shop, and not everyone has to drop the look they love to conform to anything that doesn’t give them confidence.

But lots of people tend to look favorably upon less expensive options. And what’s the good in convenience if the short walk leads to a drained bank account?

College kids have a lot to pay for. It would be nice if there could be some reprieve from being targeted by people who just want our money. Not even University Boulevard — a street mostly frequented by Wildcats — is above ripping us off. But hey, maybe that’s just the real world.

Follow Rhiannon Bauer on Twitter.

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