Just a block away from the buzzy Old Towne Orange shops and hidden by a row of cypress trees sits a Victorian-style bungalow-turned-charity shop called the Collection. It debuted last year as a retail extension of Casa Teresa, a 41-year-old nonprofit that helps pregnant women and their children living in difficult circumstances get job training, drug rehabilitation, education, case assistance and other health services. The building is painted a bright sky blue so you don't miss it, but the color also goes with the Collection's optimistic vibe.
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Volunteers and Casa Teresa residents manage the store, earning work experience and paid income. The clothes, either new or pre-owned, are donated and priced to be inexpensive—though there are still red-tag sales. But the Collection doesn't remind me of the Assistance League-style charity shops I remember from my youth or the Salvation Army stores I explored after school as a teen. As my friend noted upon our exit, "There's a very limited selection here."
Unlike the miles of racks you'd find at a Goodwill shop, the clothing here is decidedly curated, aimed at working-class men and women seeking gently used, high-end designer clothing for less; if you relocated this shop down the street to be next door to Coco Rose, the two wouldn't look very different. The offerings range from seasonal blouses, dresses, pants and shoes to jewelry, purses, workout clothes and accessories. They might not all be on-trend, but there's plenty of quality garments to wear to, say, an upcoming interview or a gala, with one rack devoted to glitzy sequined gowns.
If you can't find what you want among the in-store selection, there are plenty of covetable items online via the Collection's eBay page. Casa Teresa has helped out more than 6,000 women over the years—here's to helping 6,000 more!
The Collection by Casa Teresa, 234 N. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 633-1958; casateresa.org/the-collection.