There are people who buy brand new furniture. There are others who buy antiques. If you can't afford either, you're stuck with veneered particle board or good, used furniture. But how to assure the latter? Principle number one: screening. "We keep about a quarter of the stuff that's coming to us," says Steeple People salesperson Nancy Faillettaz.

Number two: price. Last time we checked, there was a red leather couch in Steeple People's front window priced at $350; less fancy couches go for as low as $40. Number three: variety. Nothing is worse than checking back at a thrift store to find the same sad little end table and the same wobbly dresser week after week. At Steeple People, Faillettaz says, "We'll get chairs in one day and they're gone the next." Number four: good vibes. Okay, this one is optional. But if you're going to buy cheap furniture, you might as well give money to a good cause. Most of the labor at Steeple People is volunteer; any profits go to the Methodist Church's outreach program.


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