Urban Ore is a mission-driven, for-profit, reuse enterprise located in Berkeley, California.
Urban Ore started with no capital and has developed a system for handling 230 categories of reusable goods, delivered to its facility by over 100 vehicles per day. Materials are sorted quickly, cleaned as needed, and put out for sale. Current income from reuse sales is over $10,000 per day.
Urban Ore creates many jobs and opportunities for providing workers with additional skill sets. Job training is both necessary and a key to profitability. Many employees become reuse specialists (e.g., for electronics, bicycles, hardware, doors and windows, etc.), and jobs such as directors, managers, and others are also valuable workforce additions to the county. Job satisfaction at Urban Ore is very high. The jobs are an interesting mix of physical and mental; many people like that mix much better than working in a cubicle located in a high rise and staring at a screen all day. Reuse enterprises, like Urban Ore are fascinating places to work.
Supply customers are pleased that someone will relieve them and their vehicle of unwanted stuff. Demand customers are happy to find unexpected treasures, or parts for their art, or tools that they can use, or furniture for their apartment.
The sociology of reuse is a critical factor in its success. Reuse enterprises become cultural and economic hubs where people gather for companionship with like-minded folks, learn to repair items, find hard to acquire items such as doors and fixtures and bring a date.
Urban Ore prospered during COVID as “essential businesses” for homeowners undertaking repairs and renovations.