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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Jul. 10, 2019 5 days ago

Thrift store seeks answers after car crash

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Upscale Apparel Thrift Store in Ocoee is in need of a contractor to help with repairs and is looking for information on the individual who crashed into the store.
by: Eric Gutierrez Staff Writer

Upscale Apparel Thrift Store in Ocoee is asking for the community’s help after an unknown individual crashed through its storefront the evening of July 4. 

“On July 5, I got a call at (midnight) … and they just informed me that somebody had crashed into our store,” manager Vivien White said. “There’s actually still skid marks on the sidewalk. They didn’t make it any further past the stop sign. They got out of their vehicle, took the license plate off and ran.

“We had just gotten done with some big Fourth of July festivities,” she added. “We were ready to be in bed and asleep, and it was just the last thing we expected to be woken up to.”

The store is in need of contractor help with repairs. Additionally, she’s hoping that the contractor either donates the time to do the work or provide the work at a discounted rate, White said.

“The community support has been wonderful,” White said. “I am looking for, hopefully, a contractor that can help oversee the repairs. We’re looking for somebody who can do glass work … as well as somebody who lays bricks. We’re looking for quotes right now.”

In addition to a contractor, White said they’re asking for anyone with information about the crash to come forward. Although it is unfortunate that the store was damaged, White is also concerned for the wellbeing of the individual who crashed into the store. 

“If anyone knows something, please let us know,” White said. “We’re not trying to be vindictive or any of that. I’d like to know that the individual is OK just because I’d been in car accidents before, and I’ve never known anyone going through a building and being able to leave the scene and run away with the license plate. … I’d like to know that the person is okay, but I’d also like to know why it happened.”

Police have described the vehicle that crashed into the store as a black 2000 Mazda MPV.

Upscale Apparel Thrift Store first opened in Winter Garden seven years ago, and the Ocoee location was opened three years ago. The store operates under Vine of Life Ministries, a nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian outreach by helping feed, clothe and shelter those in need. The money collected from items sold at the thrift store benefit the individuals under the care of Vine of Life Ministries.

“We’re community-centered,” White said. “Our objective here isn’t to make crazy amounts of money. It’s just to continue to do what we do in terms of our program. This location is more of our outreach location. We have free bread and pastries. We help provide furniture to people in need if they come in and they don’t have anything.”

Eric Gutierrez is a staff writer with the West Orange Times & Observer and Windermere Observer. He graduatedĀ from the University of Central Florida in 2015 with a dual degree in Journalism and Political Science. Got a story idea? Contact Eric at...

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