Local stores, restaurant offer affordable prices

While it is cliché to say college students are often broke, there is good news: Florence businesses offer deals to ease budgets and cater to students’ needs.

Located in the Seven Points Shopping Center, Fashion Exchange offers customers a large variety of name brand men’s, women’s, junior’s and children’s clothing, as well as workout equipment, footwear, purses, home décor and many other affordable products.

Store manager Mindy Borden said she encourages UNA students and professors to take advantage of weekly discounts.

New to the Shoals and now open on Cox Creek Parkway, Five Below offers a variety of necessities from notebooks to pencils and a select amount of clothing. Students can also grab work out equipment, yoga pants, electronics, cellphone chargers and accessories, lawn chairs, jumbo candy and many other miscellaneous items.

“I really enjoyed my shopping experience at Five Below,” said junior Kaitlin Davis. “They have so many things college students need, and it’s cheap. I personally liked the fact that everything is under $5. I recently bought a phone charger, an iPhone case and an auxiliary cord for my car.”

School supplies and clothing aside, students also need to find affordable groceries. At ALDI supermarket on Cox Creek Parkway, students can screenshot coupons on their smartphones from the ALDI website, take part in weekly specials and create healthy meal plans on a budget.

“Nobody can match their cheap prices for veggies and fruit, so I mainly shop there for those items,” said alumna Paige Pack. “However, I do occasionally shop for other items such as chips, baking products, and [baking] mixes.”

Pack said first-time shoppers should bring a quarter to unchain a shopping cart and grocery bags, as the store does not provide them.

The Chicago Cafe located on Mobile Street just a few blocks from campus provides customers with gourmet hotdogs, kettle-cooked chips, cherry Coke, flatbreads and lunch specials for just under $5. Accommodating the hectic life of a hungry college student, the restaurant is open until 2 a.m. daily except Sundays.

Senior Abigail Holbert said she thinks the location is convenient for students, as well as the times.

“The food is great (for the price), and it’s open later,” she said.