Consignment stores are known for good deals, but one resale shop in Oceanside, CA is known for something priceless: kindness.
TERI Inspired Resale is tucked in the corner of a strip mall in Oceanside. At first, you'll see a room filled with gently-used clothes and furniture, but if you look a little closer you'll notice something unique about the staff: The shop employs many people with disabilities ranging from autism to brain trauma.
"It's the best thing ever!" Heather, a 31-year-old longtime TERI employee who has Cerebral Palsy, says about the shop.
TERI, which stands for Training, Education, Research and Innovation, offers many of the workers with special needs their first "office” experience. The store sells everything from used furniture and clothes to artwork and crafts created by the employees with special needs.
In addition to the 25 employees with disabilities are volunteers and other employees passionate about serving the community.
Shaunda Anaya, the store manager, says the shop helps the workers develop socially, build relationships, and gain other basic life skills. But, she says, it's a learning experience for everyone.
"You could be having the worst day in your own personal life," says Anaya, but the employees “are just happy and change everything for you. You see that happen with customers."
As the collection at TERI grows, so does its impact on the community. The store’s profits go to TERI Inc, a San Diego-based nonprofit which provides opportunities, such as academy programs and horseback riding lessons, for about 800 individuals living with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
Matthew Anderson, a member of the development team at TERI Inc, says many people feel intimidated around people with special needs. His best advice for those who fear they’ll do or say the wrong thing: Follow the golden rule — treat others as you want to be treated.
"They just want to be loved and have relationships," says Anderson.
At the heart of the store is a mission rooted in compassion and inclusion. Anaya says TERI Inspired Resale gives so much more than new items to fill a house; it provides a place for many to call a second home.
"There's still a big stigma for people with disabilities and not everybody is willing to have them work in their stores," says Anaya. "With TERI having their own store, there is no stigma. This is their store."