Welcome back: where to get things


A (mostly) exhaustive list of where to find necessities if you’re new in town.

Omar Waheed

When you arrive in Ames at your various abodes, be it on-campus or off-campus housing, you will probably run into the realization that you’re lacking something. Something so obviously important that you can’t believe that you didn’t even have it in the first place. 


Then the next question in the middle of all your hectic settling is where to get said missing thing(s), and where can you get them in the future?



First off, let’s cover the necessities: clothes. You forgot all of your socks. How did you do that? If waiting for something you bought online isn’t an option, clothing in Ames can be purchased from a variety of places immediately. 


Starting with the most options for the picky consumer, the North Grand Mall, located at 2801 Grand Ave., will give you the most variety. With chain stores like Kohl’s and JCPenney amongst others, you can be sure to keep your toes nice and warm and your shoes a bit less smelly in the heat.


Or maybe you’re wondering where to get clothes to show off your school spirit? Past the bookstore at the Memorial Union on campus, there are a few places to choose from across Ames that enable you to showcase your Cyclone admiration. 


Closest to campus, across the street from the Memorial Union, is Barefoot Campus Outfitter. Don’t let the name confuse you — you need to wear shoes to go in. The store offers official Iowa State licensed merchandise along with some non-Iowa State clothing options.


Venturing further into the city, you can find Cy’s Locker Room. Located at 806 S. Duff Ave. Suite 103, you can be sure to show off your school spirit head-to-toe by copping a pair of crisp Iowa State argyle socks.

Back to North Grand Mall, a near one-stop shop, the Strawberry Patch has a smaller selection of Iowa State gear but has some options that you won’t find in the other shops.


Now that you’re all decked out in fresh Iowa State drip, you want some other clothes, but you’re on a budget. Where to go?

For the one-stop shoppers, Walmart is a valid option, but for the more environmentally conscientious shoppers, thrift stores around the city may be a better and cheaper fit.


In the area of franchises, Goodwill on 3718 Lincoln Way and the Salvation Army on 620 E. Lincoln Way are sure bets for those who want to add to their closets in a frugal manner or donate some stuff that doesn’t fit their current look. 


As for Ames-specific thrift stores, Overflow on Duff Avenue, The Loft and Duckworth Clothing offer a more local feeling to thrifting.



You have to eat, and eating out all the time costs too much. If you’re skipping out on dining centers, there’s a good amount of places to choose from.


Keeping with the good ol’ Midwest tradition, you can find two different Hy-Vees on opposite ends of Lincoln Way. If you’re feeling a little cheaper, Ames has two Walmarts, one located at 3105 Grand Ave. and the other at 534 S. Duff Ave. If you’re a little flushed with cash: Target. Ames has one of those. Located on 320 S. Duff Ave., you can burn through that cash from your internship a little bit quicker.


If you’re feeling extra Iowan, three different Fareways can help you out. With two full grocery stores on 619 Burnett Ave. and 3619 Stange Rd., you can stock up on food as long as you don’t go on Sundays. In addition to the grocery stores, Fareway Meat Market on Lincoln Way serves as a moderately pricey butchery for the carnivorous students out there.


If you want to get a taste of what’s growing in all those vast fields across Iowa, Wheatsfield Co-op offers locally grown and sourced goods from Iowa farms with an aim of bolstering the Ames community.


Coming from far away and don’t want to touch Iowa goods? Aldi has what you need. Located on 108 S. Fifth St., you can get rebranded high quality goods for reasonable prices.



You got food. You have clothes. Where are you going to sit? If you’re not blessed with a pre-furnished apartment, there are a couple options to choose from. You could prowl the streets and risk some grimy couch or questionable table, or you could hit up a variety of shops across Ames. 


With thrift shops, Walmart or Target, you can furnish your home at a moderately reasonable cost. If you want high-quality and local, Nook & Nest on 301 Main St. Suite 9 has what you need. It’ll cost more, but the unique choices will liven up your living space.



College is a pretty good time to get into learning how to fix some basic things around your home. Get yourself a set of tools from the couple of hardware stores in Ames. 


Menards will have absolutely everything you need, and they sell olive oil, too. Located on 700 SE 16th St., Menards will have that 100-foot ethernet cable you need along with a nice and shiny tool set for a reasonable price so you can mount your TV and not get your security deposit back. 


If local is more your speed, O’Donnell Ace Hardware on 615 24th St. will have a smaller, more hobbyist collection to choose from. They do not have olive oil, so choose wisely.



Your laptop is half your age. It sounds like a jet engine and a dying cat got into a fight. Pick up a new one so you won’t have an aneurysm when it freezes up at 11:59:59 when you’re trying to submit your assignment. Lucky for you, there are some options. Your best bet is Iowa State’s bookstore, where you won’t have to pay sales tax, and usually, there’s a small percentage discount going on that will save you around a hundred bucks. 


If the bookstore is out — which happens — Ames’ Best Buy, located on 1220 S. Duff Ave., does offer student discounts if you purchase it through their student program. Buy it online and choose to pick it up in store, and you will save around 5-10 percent.


Other than that, the usual one-stop shops such as Walmart and Target have them, but you will have to pay full price more often than not.



You have to make it around town somehow. If the free network of CyRide isn’t your cup of tea, and you are blessed with the understanding and know-how on why your car does that one thing when the AC is on while music is playing, there’s a couple shops where you can get some parts for your vehicle.


Don’t pay $75 for your air filter to get changed when you can go to O’Reilly’s on 426 S. Duff Ave. and pick one up for $20 and do it yourself in less than five minutes.


In addition to O’Reilly’s, there’s two other shops of the same caliber next to each other on Duff: Advanced Autoparts and AutoZone. The prices are just about the same, so it really boils down to whose uniform you like the most.


If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, or the mere sight of the engine instills fear in your heart, Ames is home to a lot of auto shops to choose from. You can drive down either Duff Avenue or Lincoln Way for a minute, and you will find a near-unending amount of auto shops. 



Books: like movies but really slow and completely in your head. Don’t only read for your classes. Read for fun, too. Ames is host to a couple full-on bookstores, but thrift stores are also a great option if you want to save almost all the cost and don’t want to contribute to the deforestation of the planet, which is cool. 


The most obvious and most accessible bookstore will be Iowa State’s bookstore in the Memorial Union. There’s not just pricey textbooks that you only might use as well as sweet Iowa State clothes, but there’s a whole section of actual books, which makes sense. Your class may assign a book to read, and there will almost always be a temporary fixture for the book in the actual books area. Even if you aren’t in the class for that fixture, give one of the books a read. They tend to be good.


Venturing off campus, a pretty new local store, Dog-Eared Books on 203 Main St. in Downtown Ames, offers a large selection and a rotating, curated collection along with being a cafe.


On the end of franchises, Books-A-Million, or BAM!, has just about any book you could want, and if not, order it on the site and have it shipped to the store to not pay for shipping and sometimes get a discount on top of it.


Lastly, don’t forget the libraries. Parks Library and the Ames Public Library are great resources to find books and resources. Plus, they offer plenty of other activities, such as Barks@Parks during Prep Week and other educational experiences.


Now that you know what’s around, enjoy yourself. Your next four(ish) years or your continuing time at Iowa State can be intense. If you hyperfixate on school, you will probably have a bad time. 


Engage in a little retail therapy with some new clothes, explore the grocery stores and learn how to become a great amateur chef, get yourself a nice comfy couch, become a novice-level handyperson and become well-read. Enjoy your time in Ames.