If you’re a new student at Cal you’re going to need to know where to get the essentials for your everyday life. But you’re also conscious of your budget and the fact that you don’t have access to a car to get around. This presents an interesting challenge at times, but today we’re going to help you find the best places to get groceries, supplies, and other important things at an affordable price and within walking distance of the dorms.
The three closest supermarkets in Berkeley are Trader Joes, Andronico’s, and Safeway in that order. Trader Joes (while closer) can still feel like a bit of a walk, but its combination of selection, quality, and price really can’t be beaten. It’s worth visiting at least once. It’s best to avoid Andronico’s unless you’re looking for something fancy. In most cases, Safeway is the better option. The downside is that Safeway is pretty far from Campus.
If you do find yourself in that part of Berkeley on a Thursday don't miss out on the weekly farmer's market (there's also one that takes place on Center street on Saturdays). It's a good opportunity to find deals on organic and fresh produce (among other tasty things). You should also check out the Berkeley Student Food Collective, a great resource for fresh, affordable, and ethically produced food. The best part is that it's really close to the dorms.
If your budget is super tight you can also find good deals regularly (particularly for snacks) at the Dollar Tree on Shattuck. And if distance is your biggest concern, you can get many essentials nearby at Fred’s Market.
When it comes to personal care, the nearby Walgreens is a great option as well as the Target mini-store on Shattuck. Both have a fairly substantial selection that’s fairly priced. Between the two you should be able to get what you need.
If you're looking to treat yourself, Body Time (both downtown and on Telegraph) has been helping people feel great for nearly fifty years. But this isn't some outdated shop filled with hippie oils and soaps, it has kept up with the times and has what you need to feel your best for some pre-midterm relaxation or post-midterm celebration.
While the Walgreens on Telegraph stocks school supplies, you also can’t go wrong with Daiso a block away. This Japanese import store has all kinds of interesting products. Besides a great supply of pens, paper, and notebooks, Daiso also carries specialty snacks, glassware, and more. What sets them apart though are their great prices. A lot of things you’d find at the student store or elsewhere are routinely 25-50% less expensive. No need to worry about the quality either, nearly everything you buy here should survive your entire time at Cal.
If you find yourself in need of a good bag for your books, be sure to hit up Young's Backpacking further down Telegraph. The place has been around forever and it's no surprise with their great prices and awesome service. It's a cozy little shop packed to the ceiling with all types and styles. It's a fun place to browse through even if you're not looking to purchase.
When it comes to tools, Ace is the place. Ace Hardware, while a bit of a walk from the dorms, is your best bet if you find yourself in need of a screwdriver, lightbulbs, or extension cords. You can also find useful things like cleaning supplies but it'd be a good idea to stop by Daiso first for those as you can often find a better deal there.
If the machines in the dorms aren’t an option or you need a suit or dress ready for that big interview you have a few great options. Bing Wong Wash is your closest and best option for reliable and available washing and drying machines. If you need dry cleaning services Sam’s Cleaners on Shattuck is worth the walk. Their service and prices are exceptional.
For most needs, the U.S. Post Office right off of Telegraph next to Cafe Durant is your closest resource. If you have additional shipping needs, the UPS Store on the corner of Telegraph and Dwight (a few blocks down the street) can take care of anything the U.S. post office can’t.
Located on Oxford, Replica Copy has been producing great readers and providing friendly service for years. It can be crowded at the start of the semester since they’re quite popular (don’t worry the lines go fast). If you’re in need of something even closer you can always rely on the copy machines at the campus Library or University Copy Service (located right next to Unit 3).
Additionally, you can discover reliable copy spots based on where your professors get their readers made.
You’ll find as you ask around and discover more of Berkeley that there are some real great spots that you like that you think deserves to be on this list. We’d love to hear about them. You can let us know what you think we should add by emailing us here.