After spending way to much time today looking at fixie/ss bikes it is clear the hipsters drive everything.
I come up with 6 different companies selling cool/custom bikes for under $500.
State Bicycle Co
From reviews and comments it seems like all of them are going for aesthetics and targeting a very specific market. Stray Cat and Big Shot at least have chromoly frames while the others are all hi ten steel.
IMO, I think that at a few hundred bucks who really cares about the materials etc. If you like the way it looks and will actually ride it go for it.
The only way I see buying something even cheaper would be used or walmart.
Would not go this route for my road bike, but like I said, I am just looking for a cheapo commuter.