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Secondhand America: Urban Ore Ecopark

America's wealth of secondhand stores is not exactly a secret, but it it can be pretty intimidating in its vastness. Follow our writer as she tip-toes through junk, browses the shelves of antique malls and bargains with vintage brokers, reporting back on just what makes our resale shops so damn good.

I begin my column at a place that will undoubtedly quench even the deepest of dig-through desires: Berkeley, C.A.’s Urban Ore Ecopark. Housing three acres of used goods, the shop’s lofty mission is to end waste.

Urban Ore’s massive, unassuming exterior–and clear history as a sourcing destination for artists and home-improvement types–may not impress at first glance, but the merch located inside certainly will. There’s a reason DIYers flock to a place like this: it’s stuffed with pretty much everything you could ever hope to find. No, really, everything. Oh, and it’s super-reasonable (and sometimes super-cheap), too.

You can get pretty-but-tarnished candlesticks for a dollar, vintage mags for $5 or less, and sconces for anywhere from $3 to $14. Wall hooks—a simple but dramatic way to organize your stuff—will likely run you less than a buck.

For those of us with a bigger interested in furnishing our closets than our living rooms, don’t be discouraged by the clear home-focus of the shop. Yes, there is seriously a section dedicated to used doors, but there are also sections for clothes and shoes, as well as plenty of used books and records. There’s even a “gallery” for the higher-end (and higher-priced) goods. And you may just find the focal piece for your next DIY-ed statement necklace among the clutter. (Because I did!)

Oh right, the clutter: try your best to consider the store’s ramshackle approach to organization charming. It can easily overwhelm, but everything basically does have a rightful, labeled home.

Think of Urban Ore as the Island for Misfit-But-Totally-Worthwhile Goods, because that’s pretty much exactly what it is.

Urban Ore Ecopark
900 Murray Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
(510) 841-7283

Freelance writer Alison Baitz (who has written for Bust and Refinery29, amongst others) is so excited that she got to visit thrift stores and antique malls as part of her job.

Furniture at Urban Ore Ecopark.


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