Strapped for cash with last-minute plans and in need of something that gives you that runway feel at a very low cost? Well regardless of the economy, it will be a bit tricky to find clothing with a twist of style at the last minute, and for a great price … unless you know where to look. Luckily, I stumbled upon the FIDM Scholarship store that not only has edgy designer clothing at an excellent price but also leaves you feeling guilt free for dipping into your wallet!

Located in downtown Los Angeles right next to FIDM, this shop provides anyone on a budget to get the most bang for their buck and donate to a charitable cause. Open to both FIDM students and the general public, the store has a wide variety of new donated items coming through their doors daily. Prices range anywhere from $1 to $125, usually with a discounted price on top of what is listed in the store and other special deals all the time. While I was there, a lady walked away with a beautiful floor-length wedding gown with a satin trim for only $25. Products for both men and women range from jewelry, clothing, accessories, home furnishings, housewares, fabrics, trim, mannequins, shoes and much more in this little downtown treasure.

What may you ask is this charitable cause you’re donating to when you walk out of here with a new jacket and set of jewelry for your date on Friday night? Well, on top of looking and feeling fabulous, you win the ‘good Samaritan’ card with the knowledge that your purchase goes toward funding the greater cause of giving a student a better chance for fulfilling their education at FIDM.

Voted by the Downtown Daily as “Best Store/Boutique in Los Angeles,” the main reason and purpose the FIDM Scholarship Store exists is to raise funds for the FIDM Scholarship Foundation. Established in 1978, the foundation’s primary objective is to provide financial need for postsecondary students who are pursuing an education in fashion, entertainment, the digital arts and interior design.

Any and all money earned by the donations given to the store go toward scholarships for students who’ve demonstrated financial need and fall under the Allocation Committee’s special criteria set in order to qualify for the program. Over the years, this nonprofit organization has helped many students reach higher goals of achievement and creativity with donations that go toward scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 dollars.

The program reaches out and benefits everyone involved too. Not only does this store help the foundation in raising money for those students strapped for cash, it also offers employment opportunities. This gives those students who’ve never even had a job a great opportunity to learn and create a healthy work ethic that can easily be scheduled around their classes. Designers also benefit here with a tax deduction when they donate items from their overstock, and the community walks away with a great bargain and a chance to put their money to a good cause. Also, if there is a surplus amount of items donated, the scholarship store takes a step further and pays it forward by taking their merchandise to other charitable foundations in their local community.

It’s hard to imagine this idea was started up years ago in a little space in the back room of a house, but since then, it has evolved into a phenomenal notion that not only encourages students and downtown residents to buy locally, but also to give back to the community in more ways than one.

After shopping there myself, I walked away with a cute shiny sequin skirt ($24), bright, dangly green earrings ($2) and a sparkly golden bracelet ($12), which were all donated items from top designers. Their inventory is continuously in turnover mode, as I noticed while I was there. So there’s always something new to see and buy every time you go in. But don’t count on items being there for long, as they sell out of new arrivals very fast.

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