When walking through Sproul Plaza, you may come across a vibrant array of student organizations selling food, promoting their clothing items or hosting thrift swaps.
One of these organizations is ReUSE — a long-standing thrift store located in UC Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union that also hosts monthly clothing exchanges on Sproul Plaza or Memorial Glade. Campus senior and ReUSE president Ariel Chu emphasized its mission of offering students sustainable access to clothing and school materials on campus.
“The whole purpose of the store and ReUSE itself is to promote sustainability and provide resources, especially for low-income students or marginalized communities,” Chu said. “But it’s also for everyone to have a chance to be able to get extremely low cost or free items and help promote a cycle where people can come in and exchange goods.”
According to Chu, the items ReUSE sells and exchanges are donation-based.
Chu added that ReUSE’s monthly exchange system is popular among students and vendors who bring in clothes or other items like jewelry.
“Sproul events are pivotal for us not only to raise funds, but also to raise awareness of ReUSE’s mission, our store and our stations,” Chu said.
Sami Kaya, a volunteer at the Muslim Student Association, or MSA, noted that the organization hosts sales for specific causes a few times per semester. On Monday, MSA members sold Turkish baklava and coffee on Sproul Plaza to raise money for earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria.
While some use these events to raise money for donations, others utilize Sproul Plaza tabling to fund their clubs. According to campus senior and B-Side Editor-in-Chief Sunny Sangha, B-Side hosts an array of events to sell donated clothes, copies of its magazine and its merchandise.
“These fundraisers help us tremendously,” Sangha said in an email. “The most recent one has allowed us to explore new opportunities for our launch. We are really grateful for the people on Sproul who engage with us.”
Sangha noted that B-Side is an independent organization, and all profits made from these events go directly to financing the club — whether that means covering prices of printing the magazine, running the website or other internal costs. They added that B-Side typically makes around $500-700 from tabling, which contributes to about 60-80% of its total funding.
B-Side has also partnered with restaurant chains in the past for fundraising, but Sangha found that these efforts raise little in comparison to selling items on Sproul Plaza. Some of these partnerships raised $30 at best, they added.
According to campus sophomore and B-Side marketing lead Zara Koroma, the “Thrifted by B-Side” fundraiser held on Sproul raises the most money apart from its magazine sales. She added that items sold in this event are reasonably priced for the average student compared to pricings at vintage stores near campus.
“These types of events only work with a strong team, as well as an active community!” Sangha said in the email. “Without the extra efforts and ambitions of our members and without people on Sproul giving us the time of day, it wouldn’t be nearly as successful.”