St. John’s on the cheap

A mini-guide for starving students and other cheapskates

Furniture, houseware & clothing

If you need to set up a new home or you simply can’t justify spending an entire paycheck on a piece of furniture or a new outfit, then second-hand is the way to go, where it never hurts to ask for a better price you think it’s too high. A pocketful of cash works best for bargaining.

Buy & Sell: If you’re from Newfoundland, you probably already know and love the Buy & Sell. This magazine comes out every Friday and has over 10,000 listings for stuff for sale across the province – from free kittens and kitchen tables to suits of armour and vintage vending machines. Just reading it can be afternoon of entertainment on its own – how on earth do people accumulate such crazy shit? The magazine, with tax, costs a little over 4 bucks. Look for it in convenience stores or view the listings online by using your credit card. One downfall: things might get complicated if you don’t have access to a car.

Freecycle: Rather than adding to the junk piling up in landfills, Freecycle members instead post their unwanted belongings online and give them away for free. Anyone can join and it doesn’t cost a thing. At the time of writing, there were 1385 members and over 600 messages had been posted just in the month of August. Check it out:

Frenchy’s: This strangely-named giant thrift chain spread like wildfire out of New Brunswick, through the surrounding Maritime Provinces and finally landed here in Newfoundland. Frenchy’s deals mostly in clothing, which are heaped in mounds on tables and sorted according to garment type (they receive their clothing in “bails”). When I visited last June, the prices range from quite cheap to a little bit more than I was willing to pay. 141 Torbay Rd.

Habitat Re-Store: Habitat for Humanity sells used furniture & appliances. When I called there was a lot of different stuff ranging from beds and dressers to dishes. They had a kitchen table and 6 chairs going for $100. There is a delivery service available for $20 for people living in St. John’s.79 Blackmarsh Rd. 738-7905

Monty’s Bargain Hut: Small selection of furniture. 48 Cashin Ave. 579-2327

Power’s Surplus & Salvage: Office wares and industrial salvage – surely an adventure. They recycle and re-sell old paint by combining left over quantities. 26 Alexander 722-6585

Previously Loved Clothes & Things: Epilepsy NL operates a large thrift store where your buck goes a lot further than at Value Village. When I visited a few months ago there were long isles of clothes, numerous house-y things, but the furniture department seemed pretty picked through that day. However, they’re worth checking since new stock is always arriving. 6 O’Leary Avenue (Just behind the Avalon Mall) 753-7283

Salvation Army Thrift Stores: This is an inexpensive place to buy a new bed. A twin box spring & mattress set comes to $227(tax inc), while a double set is priced at $327 (tax inc). It’s also possible to buy just the top mattress. If you don’t have access to a vehicle, ask about delivery as it can usually be arranged. These stores deal mainly in clothes but also sell small housewares and sometimes furniture. Wednesdays and Fridays are supposed to be hot times to check. 51 Kenount 753-5871, 70 Hamlyn (SW of downtown) 747-1414, 11 Waldegrave (downtown) 753-8501

St. Vincent de Paul Society Thrift Store: Very reasonable prices for clothes, small housewares and a modest selection of furniture. They say the best time to check for new furniture is Wednesday afternoons, after the donation pick-up has arrived. 84 Gower 579-334

Traders Cash & Carry: Modest selection of electronics & small appliances, some of which are new and still in the box. 321 Freshwater Road, 754-5960

Up Town Furniture & Appliances: Every time I’m near this store I can hardly control myself – the lineup of vintage-y furniture on the sidewalk is almost too much to handle. When I called last Tuesday, they had a solid wood 1950’s era table with upholstered chairs for $150 and some dressers priced around $80 (but would be open to negotiate). Lamps & other goodies, too. They offer a delivery service which is sometimes free, depending on where you live and how much you’ve bought. 572 Water 739-4800

Value Village: Odds are, if you scour the aisles long enough, you’re bound to come home with something, simply based on the fact this place is huge. Besides clothes, they have a great selection of dishes and kitsch, but usually the furniture is hit-or-miss and almost always more expensive than other used places. 161 Kenmount Road

Independent & specialty grocery

Here are a few alternatives to the large grocery chains.

Asian Variety Store: Chinese, Japanese, Korean & Vietnamese foods, frozen, dried, canned, bagged & bottled. Fair prices. Take-out sushi is available on Wednesdays & Fridays. If you see the “Back in 4 min” sign on the door, you can trust them. 159 Water

Auntie Crae’s has various imported specialty items you won’t easily find at the big chains. Come here to satisfy your craving for dark chocolate or to grab a quick bite from the deli counter. 272 Water Street

Belbin’s Grocery: Independently owned, reasonably priced, good food selection and unique atmosphere. You can hop in person or by phone, fax, or e-mail!?! How awesome is that! If you’re in St. John’s or Mount Pearl you can have the groceries delivered for as little as $3.95. Details here: 37 Quidi Vidi Rd.

Coleman’s Food Centre: Mid-sized, independently owned, community-focused grocery store. 129 Merrymeeting Road

Food For Thought: Food and body products that are healthy and socially conscious. Pitted dates, sunflower seeds, Spanish peanuts, dried beans and spices are a good deal, and the large packs of rice noodles for a buck are a steal. This little shop is packed to the gill, so be prepared to poke around a bit if you’re looking for something in particular. This is a great place to go to buy bulk organic/fair trade coffee. Jumping Bean Coffee, a local fair-trade roaster of coffee, is based out of Paradise, and sells a lot of its coffee from Food For Thought. 382 Duckworth Street

Georgestown Bakery is a very special spot in St. John’s that specializes in artisan breads. They make their own fresh Montreal-inspired-but-truly-Georgestown-style bagels, which are very popular and sometimes sell out. A money-saving idea is to opt for the day-old bread and bagels, which are still far tastier than most other store-bought bread. They often have them on the shelf, but sometimes they put them in the freezer and you have to ask. You know you’re getting very close when nearly every person in sight is trotting along with a brown paper bag and the street smells like warm bread. On your way out you will feel like hugging everyone you see. 60 Hayward

Magic Wok Chinese Grocery: An Asian food and variety store with good prices, selling everything from kimchi and miso to Chinese dishware. 238 Duckworth Street

Toya International Market & Specialty Store: This is a new store that sells a variety of canned and dried specialty products, including many from Africa. as well as spices. Some hair braiding happens here too. 15 Lemarchant Road

Meals & snacks

Tired of eating food you prepared yourself? St. John’s isn’t the cheapest place to live if you can’t stand your own cooking, and part of that has to do with the cost of shipping food onto the island… But here are a few spots that offer quality food at modest prices.

The Afghan Restaurant serves a selection of traditional cuisine including chicken, beef, curry and kababs. Take out is available and prices are affordable. 375A Duckworth

International Flavours serves up fresh homestyle curry. A single meal is featured every day with a meat or vegetarian option. The portions are large and the cost is reasonable in this straight-forward restaurant. If you don’t want to commit to a serious gorging, see about getting a half plate. Check out their Indian spices for your own home cooking. Take out is available. 4 Quidi Vidi Road

The Sprout just celebrated its first anniversary a few weeks ago, but its already hard to imagine downtown St. John’s without it. The menu offers fresh vegetarian dishes at fair prices in a pleasant and easygoing atmosphere. Owned and operated by two young, energetic, socially-conscious women. See our breakfast list for info on their wonderful Sunday brunch. 364 Duckworth Street

Fabulous Foods, home of the famous Turkey Rolls ($0.95 cold / $1.08 hot) Turkey Pies ($3.75 cold / $4.72 hot) and, of course, The Deluxe: turkey meat on a slice of bread with dressing, green peas, fries and gravy for $5.07. These prices include tax, and take-out is available. 140 Merrymeeting Road

The Ugly Dumpling started serving up their Chinese-style dumplings (also known as potstickers) just last week. Colin and JianXiong, two MUN students, needed a job to fund their World of Warcraft habit, so they built a cart and are making dumplings. You can get six excellent handmade dumplings for $3 – a good deal for street snacks. In the afternoons you can usually find them in front of the government building on Water Street, close to the War Memorial. On weekend evenings, look for them on George Street.

Other food-related notes

Breen’s Bakery & Deli: Every Thursday is Breen’s famous hot turkey sandwich day. $5.99 + tax gets you one of their famous sandwiches and plenty of fries topped with dressing and gravy. 79 New Gower

College of the North Atlantic Dining Room program: Psst! Don’t tell anyone, but there are advanced level chefs-in-training who want to practise their culinary kung-fu on you. Prepare to be pummeled with awesome deliciousness! This amazing lunch buffet features treats such as lobster, tenderloin and crab for only $10 per person. The price probably doesn’t even cover the cost of the ingredients, let alone the labor involved. We seriously debated whether to leave this listing out so we could keep this secret to ourselves. Tues/Wed/Thurs 12pm-12:45pm, Prince Phillip Drive. Reservations required (578-7240)

India Gate: Delicious all-you-can-eat Indian lunch buffet for $9.99. Weekdays, 11:30am-2pm. 286 Duckworth Street.

New this year, Power Smoothies set up a counter in the back of the old Allendale Mini Mart, offering yummy fruit smoothies and fresh sandwiches. Rumour has it the remaining store space will be soon be home to a food store dealing in fresh produce. Don’t be confused by the “Closed! Open!” sign on the front. 62 Allandale

Taj Mahal: Another delicious all-you-can-eat Indian Buffet fet for $9.99. Weekdays, 11:30am-2pm. 203 Water

MUN Campus Food Bank: Take advantage of it if you need it. Likewise, if you’ve got a bit to spare, drop it off at the Food Bank, which is located in the basement of Corte Real. You can also leave donations at the Students’ Union office.

Recorded music

Freds Records carries new and used music on a variety of formats. Who else is still stocking new releases on vinyl? This is the best organized used music section in town – they save you the work by alphabetizing and filing by genre. This is the place to go for the most obscure titles, and if it’s not in stock they take specialty orders. A good place to look for music by local artists. Independently owned and locally operated. Located at 198 Duckworth.

Other places to look for local music interest include Bennington Gate (Churchill Square) which has a small music section and O’Brien’s Music (Water Street) for Newfoundland, Irish and Gospel music.

If you’re up for a real hunt, most thrift/pawn shops have used music sections, Traders at 321 Freshwater Road has a particularly substantial selection. The Curiosity Shop located at 148 Gower has a great supply of old records.

CHMR-FM Radio (93.5 FM) Memorial’s campus radio station. Here you can learn about radio and even have your own show, regardless if you’re a student or not. Keep your eyes and ears open for CHMR’s fundraising sales where the radio station unloads new and used titles running the gamut of genres. A great place to find an obscure treasure, or if you’re in luck, a sweet deal on a new release you couldn’t afford elsewhere. More info on how to get involved and programming schedule here:

Live music

Looking for a night out with a good soundtrack? The St. John’s music scene is very vibrant and shows rarely charge more than $5 cover. This list is only a beginning – there are too many bars in St. John’s to fit them all in this list. Watch for posters, and, of course, check for The Scope every Thursday to find out what’s going on in the city.

Fat Cat Blues Bar has live shows scheduled every night of the week as well as nightly drink specials.

The Alternative: Water Street bar specializing in alternative & rock music. Cheap drink specials change daily.

The Basement: Occasional All Ages afternoon shows as well as 19+ evenings and weekends. A good place to look for punk & rock. Thursdays is Jagermeister time w/ $3 shots.

The Rose and Thistle: Located on Water Street offering mostly straight up rock and folk music. A single costs $3.55 and a double is $5.75 till 8pm.

The Ship Pub hosts live entertainment ranging from the experimental Night Music series to indie shows to the always popular Folk Night every Wednesday. Jockey Club special is 2 for $6.50 and during happy hour (till 8pm) beer is $3.45. Find the portal in an alley that connects both Duckworth and Water.

The Spur offers various open mics during the week as well as full band shows. Rarely charge cover. Water St.

Distortion (Heavy Rock) CBTG’s (Rock) & Roxxy’s (2 beer for $6.25) are tangled together in the plaza at the end of George Street. If you can’t find what your looking for at one, try the other.

Liquid Ice, The Zone, and Junctions are the popular places to go for late-night dancing.

For something a little more Trad, Erin’s Pub is a good place to start. Happy hour is 1pm-6pm when beer is $3.05. (Water St) A number of George Street venues also regularly offer live traditional music.

Watering holes

Want to sit and chat and not worry about talking over someone else’s performance? Try these places.


Bar None specializes in unique recorded music and offers free pool. India beer is on special. Look for an alley off Water St.

Christian’s Bar has $3.65 bottles till 8pm. George St.

Duke of Duckworth has a happy hour from 3pm-7pm when beer and highballs are $3.45. Alley between Duckworth & Water

The Grapevine happy hour is 3pm-8pm every day. Tidbits served free with your drink. (Water St)

Around MUN

Arribas Tapas: For every drink you buy, you get a free visit from the nacho bar, above Quintana’s in Churchill Square

Big Ben’s in Churchill Square has a student-y karaoke night on Thursdays when jugs of Keiths go for $10.75.

The Guv’nor Pub close to MUN has a happy hour between 4pm and 7pm with $3.30 beer. (389 Elizabeth)

Looking to avoid the bar scene altogether? Hava Java has an all ages open mic Sunday nights (medium coffee $1.74). As well, restaurants such as Giovanni Cabot’s (Jill Porter every Saturday) and The Sprout occasionally offer live music.


Many Memorial University clubs offer free or cheap movies that you won’t usually find in the commercial theatre. Often, you don’t even have to be a student to go. The Scope will list the week’s movies (which are open to the public) as schedules become available.

Membership to the International Film Club is open to all MUN students and their friends. Fall line up includes: Last Night, C.R.A.Z.Y, Frida, Akeelah and the Bee, Existenz, Pride and Prejudice, Darwin’s Nightmare + others, $2 per person, Wednesdays 7:30pm, Inco Lecture Theatre, room 2001.

Amnesty International Film Club, Radical Media Society, MUN Anime Film Club, MUN Horror Film Society, and MUN Cinema also show films throughout the year. Schedules TBA.

Rabbittown Theatre: Not too long ago Rabbittown had started showing movies a few nights/week at the space on 106 Freshwater Road. We’ll keep you posted on if they reappear. It seems like just what this city needs!


Here are just a few starting points for ideas on how to get out of town. …Move ‘em on, head ‘em up!

MUN Ride Share is a new online service at Memorial that helps students make contacts for one-off journeys for holidays or business trips.

The East Coast Trail Association schedules group hikes around St. John’s. If you don’t have a car, perhaps try contacting them about catching a ride with someone.

For the love of learning

You don’t have to be a student to go to these free lectures. Everyone is welcome.

Cognitive Science Lecture Series: Psychology, Mathematics, Linguistics, Computer Science/Engineering and Philosophy in layman’s terms. 30 minute talk + 20 minute discussion. Every second Thursday, 12am-1pm, Room A-1049 (MUN Arts Bldg annex, ground floor) Contact for more info.

Public Lectures in Philosophy: The MUN Philosophy Department offers a discussion group open to the public to stimulate the love of learning in St. John’s. Last Tuesday of the month, often held at The Ship. 30 minute lecture + 1 hour of discussion. For more information contact

Women’s Studies Speakers’ Series: Keep checking their website for this fall’s schedule:

High-brow culturin’

The Rooms: the new provincial art gallery and museum is free every Wednesday night between 6pm-9pm as well as the first Saturday every the month.

Though we tried our hardest, there are definitely great, wonderful, marvelous places that we neglected to mention. We’re sure of it. Feel free to let us know if you think we overlooked an important money-saving spot.

Thanks to Jonathan Adams, Rachel Jean Harding, and Lesley Thompson for gathering information.

Photo of Esther Wade and Dave Whitten by Rachel Jean Harding.