Inside the Charity Shop Where Wedding Gowns Get a Second Life
Portland's Brides for a Cause owner Erin Scharf is giving married women and brides-to-be alike the opportunity to give back.
Brides for a Cause is a nonprofit organization that collects and resells wedding dresses, giving all of the profits from the sales to women-focused charities. In the past five years, the store has donated more than $500,000 to national and local women's charities.
"We get a lot of dresses," says Scharf. "Some are new, some are used. A lot of times we get them in the mail from individuals, so people get married, they pop them in a box and they ship them to us. We have, over the years, been able to develop relationships with bridal stores, manufacturers, and designers, so we get dresses from all over the country."
Brides for a Cause was originally founded as a for-profit business in 2012, but became a nonprofit organization in 2016 and gained its 501(c)3 status in 2017. All of the dresses in the store are donated, and since its conception in 2012, the store has collected over 9,000 dresses.
But the dresses don't just come from former brides; wedding dress designers and retailers will also donate out-of-season and overstocked dresses to the store.
"At the end of each season, we basically go through and look at the dresses that we need to take off the floor because we've got new dresses coming in," said Gabriella Risatti, owner of Gabriella New York. "We clean and repair everything and anything we think is still a viable gown, we send to them."