A popular thrift store chain that funds onsite HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention centers is coming to a marquee Pike/Pine location this summer. CHS has learned that the Los Angeles-based Out of the Closet plans to open its 23rd thrift store on E Pike and will include a free HIV testing site, pharmacy, and medical center.
Slated to open in August, Out of the Closet’s first Seattle location will offer free HIV testing inside its store and and support an AIDS clinic and pharmacy on the building’s second floor. Out of the Closet general manager Jonathan Kruyer told CHS that 96 cents of every dollar the thrift store makes goes into AIDS prevention and treatment.
“When people shop at Out of the Closet, they can physically see where the money goes. They can see the testing facility, they can see the pharmacy,” he said.
Out of the Closet is a division of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a massive non-profit that provides AIDS medicine and advocacy to more than 200,000 patients in 28 countries.
AFH first set foot in Seattle in 2012 when the organization took over the MOMS Pharmacy chain, including the 11th and E Union location. Kruyer said AHF had recently been searching for a new location for its pharmacy when it came across the E Pike space. The AHF pharmacy will stay open at E Union until the day it reopens in the new Out of the Closet location.
Kruyer said Out of the Closet started providing free HIV testing in its stores 18 years ago after the organization’s founders discovered people often backed out of doctors appointments if they had to wait more than a day. Some stores do up to 30 HIV tests a day, Kruyer said.
In addition to providing more shopping options for Capitol Hill plebs, Out of the Closet should boost daytime activity in the neighborhood’s nighttime core. In recent years many Capitol Hill developers and food+drink owners have bemoaned the neighborhood’s sagging retail economy. The 1016 E Pike building has remained empty since the Polyclinic moved out in January 2013.
Of course Out of the Closet won’t be the neighborhood’s first nonprofit thrift store that funds AIDS prevention causes. The Lifelong AIDS Alliance has been a strong presence in the city’s LGBT community since the 1980s. The organization’s Capitol Hill thrift store has been open since 2001. Lifelong CEO Randy Russell tells CHS the thrift store is thriving and there are no planned changes in the works. Meanwhile, other community organizations like Gay City Health, a CHS advertiser, are also active in the neighborhood.
News of the latest neighborhood thrift store comes after Goodwill opened its Capitol Hill doors this month and as Value Village says its long goodbye to 11th Ave. Out of the Closet will join a thriving thrift and vintage scene in the neighborhood, including Red Light Vintage store, Crossroads Trading, Take 2, Le Frock, Pretty Parlor, No Parking, and others.
You can learn more at outofthecloset.org.