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Valentine's Day: How to do the holiday on a college budget

by Tori Martinez - Lifestyles Editor
Tue, Feb 7th 2017 11:00 pm
Photos taken by Tara Kiah/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
SWEET TOOTH Seward Candies has the largest display of candy and chocolate in Brockport. The home and handmade chocolates have no artificial flavor or ingredients. Store owner Chad Engert said it's all about quality when it comes to the products in his locally owned shop.
Photos taken by Tara Kiah/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER SWEET TOOTH Seward Candies has the largest display of candy and chocolate in Brockport. The home and handmade chocolates have no artificial flavor or ingredients. Store owner Chad Engert said it's all about quality when it comes to the products in his locally owned shop.
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 With Valentine's Day less than a week away, college students are trying to figure out how to spend the day with their special someone. But attempting to plan a nice Valentine's Day is a little hard when you're working with a college student's budget. While we know we should be spending money on phone bills, textbooks and saving to pay $1,000 loans off, we can't pass up a day to treat our baes. Luckily for Brockport students, there are plenty of affordable options right here in the village. All your chocolate, floral, jewelry and dining needs are located on Main Street, just a 15-minute walk from campus.

 Most people start their activities in the afternoon or night, but why not start with breakfast? Java Junction sells cups of coffee for $1.30; the first refill is free and any refill after is only 30 cents each. Various bagel sandwiches cost between $2 and $4. The dim lighting and variety of seating options gives it the kind of Central Perk feel most people look for in a cozy coffee shop. If your lover appreciates coffee (almost) as much as they appreciate you, this is a must.

If your sweetheart likes flowers, look no further than Arjuna Florist and Gifts. Most of its products are completely outside of a college budget, ranging from $50 to $150, but you can buy three red roses for $17. With any purchase, you can buy a small stuffed bear and small box of chocolates for an extra $5, and according to store owner Alison Andrews, students get a 10 percent discount. With the discount, the two come to less than $20 before taxes. You couldn't expect a better deal from a locally owned florist than this.

 When it comes to jewelry, there are tons of choices. While adults with full time jobs might be able to afford hundred dollar Valentine's jewelry, we're not always as fortunate. Luckily, we have Arjuna, Bittersweet, BeBe Mills and Unique Gift Boutique to help save our wallets. 

Bittersweet has a wide selection of jewelry. It sells Alex and Ani bracelets that start at $28 and can go up to more than $100, so it can be a little expensive depending on the type or brand of jewelry you get, but there are plenty of necklaces and earrings in the $20 range. 

BeBe Mills sells charm bracelets for $18 with a wide array of charms for $12. It's a little more expensive than some of the other options, but $30 for a bracelet and a charm isn't necessarily out of the college expenses. At Arjuna and Unique Gift Boutique, there are more than enough rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings that cost anywhere between $5 and $20. 

Unique Gift Boutique is also a great place to buy cute Beanie Boo stuffed animals. The smallest cost $5 and the largest cost $25. They're too adorable to pass up. Stop by to check out the selection of Valentine's mugs, picture frames and, if your honey loves little trinkets like I do, the numerous Valentine's themed metal and wooden block signs to hang on a wall or set on a table.

When it comes to candy and chocolates, Seward Candies has the largest display in Brockport. Bags of different varieties of chocolate cost $6, sponge candy costs $10 and the largest boxes of chocolates are only $25. There are countless other affordable candies and chocolates as well. While Walmart's prices may be just as cheap, likely cheaper, store owner Chad Engert said it doesn't even compare to the quality of Sewards. 

"It's the best chocolate in the world, home and handmade," Engert said. "Our pure milk chocolate has no artificial flavors or ingredients; it's all natural. Our candy is made with love."

Engert said the candies are made in the Seward family home, where there are two candy kitchens.

If you're into the traditional dinner and a movie kind of night, you're in a lot of luck. Movie tickets at The Strand are only $6.25 with student ID. There will be showings of "Fifty Shades Darker," "John Wick Chapter 2" and "The Lego Batman" movie. Showtimes for Valentine's Day have not yet been released, but typical movie showings for Tuesdays are 7:10 p.m. and 9:20 p.m. 

For dinner, I recommend two restaurants: Stoneyard Bar & Grill and the Brockport Diner. Most of Stoneyard's menu items are between $10 and $15, with entrees between $14 and $22. You could spend $50 on dinner if you wanted to get real fancy, but you could also spend around $30 no problem. 

"We have a nice environment and serve a nice selection of beer and wine if that's what you're looking for," store manager Brennan Penders said. "Our food is probably some of the best in the town."

Penders said to anticipate a wait and suggests calling ahead to let them know you're coming in. There's usually a 40 to 45 — minute wait between 5 and 10 p.m., and by calling ahead, you can minimize your wait time. If you want to look at a dinner or beer menu ahead of time, go to stoneyardbrewingcompany.com. 

I know Brockport Diner may not be the fanciest restaurant, but it's really cheap and also serves beer. The most expensive things on the menu are the porterhouse and New York strip steak and those are only $15 and $14 respectively. Pretty much everything else is between $5 and $10. With beer included, you could easily spend less than $30. Don't worry about how classy the restaurant is; your significant other will be happy and thankful that you took them out for dinner. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you're together, right?

However, if you're not into the whole going out thing, maybe stay at home or in your dorm and order in. Some of the nicest presents are the ones that are a little more low key and personal. 

Order Chinese food from Kitchen Express (I recommend the sesame or orange chicken — you can't go wrong with either) or order a specialty pizza with pepperoni in the shape of a heart. Sure it's a little cheesy (no pun intended) but isn't that what Valentine's Day is about? The great thing about Kitchen Express is how fast the service is. If you pick it up, you can have your food within 10 minutes. All the pizza shops on Main Street are good, so take your pick.

While I may have listed more than 10 different Valentine's Day options, there are still more shops and restaurants. For more suggestions, go to brockportny.org, click on the "community" tab, then click on "businesses" to see the whole list of businesses on and off Main Street. 

@TORIMARTINEZ3

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