When I was in college, after having moved from the dorms to an apartment, I decided I needed a set of shelves. I had never bought shelves before, but it seemed like the sort of thing that was within my capabilities.
The way my parents generally buy furniture is to decide roughly what it is that they want and then comb the classified ads for garage sales, estate sales, rummage sales, etc. which mention the thing they’re looking for. The upside of this process is that you can get surprisingly nice stuff for a decent price. The downside of this process is that you get what you get, and there’s not usually as much choice as there would be in a store.
You also have to have the ability to transport the thing that you bought, which I did not.
I decided I would buy furniture the more modern way, which is to go to a big box store and buy a box of flat-pack furniture.
I went to Sears, for no particular reason other than Sears seemed like the sort of store that would have flat-packed shelves. It’s possible they had a sale on shelves, since another thing my parents will do is look through the circulars for every single retail outlet in a fifteen-mile radius to determine if something they want is on sale. But whatever the reason, there I went.
With little effort, I found a quite serviceable set of gray-and-black plastic shelves that looked sturdy and were not exceptionally expensive. I purchased them.
When I returned, my mom was extremely impressed at my purchase. During that time in my life she would often express how impressed she was that I did things that I viewed as normal adult activities, such as preparing a meal by following the directions on the package or making an ordinary retail purchase. This would vex me somewhat since I felt like being impressed by so little meant that she didn’t believe in me very much, though I’m sure it was just her coping with her child’s transition into adulthood.
In any case, I still have those shelves. They’re actually right beside the desk I’m currently sitting at. I don’t recall how much I spent on them (I found a differently-colored set of similar shelves for $40, though I assume I paid less than that in the early 2000s), but I would say I’ve gotten my money’s worth and then some.