PASO ROBLES — “To be a light in the community by paying it forward
That is the mission statement of local non-profit Gatherings Emporium in Paso Robles, founded by Alesen Corella, a lifetime thrifter and yard-
“[I was] just a mom really, raised three kids,” Corella said.
“When I was done raising them and sat around for a couple of years twiddling my thumbs, I thought, ‘what the heck and I going to do with the rest of my life?’ One thing led to another and the idea was born. I’ve always been a thrifter and felt like giving back was a meaningful and purposeful way to live the rest of my life.”
Gatherings Emporium opened last November during the annual Elegant Evening event and featured Singing Hands Children’s Choir, a group that performs in American Sign Language. In the four months since the store opened, it has grown to be a very loved store by locals and tourists alike.
On the right-hand side of the store, there are selections of quality second-hand clothing, purses, shoes, hats
The left side of the store is home to several booths rented by local artists and vendors showcasing their crafts such as repurposed broken jewelry, upcycled furniture
In the back of the 4,800 square-foot space, is a 26’ X 26’ room equipped with a portable stage, chairs and a kitchenette. This room is meant for meetings, workshops, classes, performances
Gatherings Emporium is a green business in every way possible. From the choice not to use harsh chemical cleaning products to using low wattage light bulbs, to simply the nature of the business itself.
“Re-cycle, re-use, re-gift,” Corella said. “That’s our theme, re-purpose, re-love.”
Part of what makes this business model so community-involved is the fact that patrons are able to choose which local charity they would like their purchase to benefit.
These five charities were chosen because they are near and dear to Corella’s heart:
• Rise (Respect, Inspire, Support, Empower):
RISE provides crisis intervention and treatment services to survivors of domestic violence and abuse.
• ACT (Applause Children’s Theater):
A youth theater group in Paso Robles for kids ages seven through high school age.
• Paws Cause: Paws Cause is a team of volunteers who spay and neuter feral cats, ranch cats
-MSYR (Morning Star Youth Ranch): MSYR is a faith-based group that rescues horses, mentors children and encourages families.
-Fig at Courtney’s House: A partnership between Fig Good Food restaurant and Courtney’s House where adults with developmental disabilities are able to work in a full-service restaurant setting.
For every $10 spent at Gatherings Emporium, patrons will receive a button that can be placed in the jar corresponding to the charity of their choice on their way out the door. At the end of each sales quarter, these buttons are counted up and can be worth anywhere from seven cents to 70 cents each depending on how much money was made. The total amount from each jar will go directly to the charity it was collected for.
Gatherings Emporium also has a sister store in Atascadero called Gatherings Thrift, also founded by Corella, that has been open nearly five years. The business model is similar in that each purchase will benefit the local charity of choice — there are six different Atascadero charities to choose from as well at that location.
Gatherings Emporium, like Gatherings Thrift, is comprised of second-hand, donated items. However, items found at Gatherings Emporium tend to be higher-quality, hand-picked items. Corella felt that Gatherings Thrift in Atascadero was a good and positive thing in the community and thought Paso Robles would be a good place to try out this business model.
Beyond clothing recycling, craft workshops, work mentorship, volunteer opportunities and artistry, Corella seeks to have a place that locals can come to shop and feel like they are part of something greater.
“We want to have an eclectic mix of unique finds and clothing at great prices; at the same time, every purchase is a gift back to the community.”
To find out about volunteer opportunities, craft workshops or availability of the meeting space, email: [email protected]
Gatherings Emporium is located at 1335 Park Street in Paso Robles and is open Monday-Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from 12-5 p.m. The store is closed on Wednesdays.
More information can be found at www.gatheringsemporium.org.