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A Unique Store for a Cause

By Anthony Perry, Chris Harrington, Ryan Mattox, Alex DeJesus


On the 500 block of Bainbridge Street in South Philadelphia, a vibrant storefront stands in contrast with its neighboring buildings. Colorful and unique flags and banners adorn the facade of the Philly AIDS Thrift store; a low-price thrift store dedicated to benefiting the AIDS community of Philadelphia.


"I feel like we're making a big difference, it's really awesome...I've worked at a lot of jobs, but it's nice to know while you're working here that you're giving back to the community," says manager Adam Proctor. Since 2005, Philly AIDS Thrift has brought quality items and wares to shoppers, at low prices, while donating all profits to the Philadelphia AIDS Fund. The shop is run mainly on volunteer man-power, who are managed and headed by four paid managers and a board of directors. Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou says that there can be anywhere from thirty to one hundred different volunteers working in three-hour shifts over a week.


"We have never had to ask for a single donation," Kallas-Saritoglou says. The shop and overflow warehouse are open for business seven days a week. Managers and volunteers say that piles of donations of clothing, books, electronics, and furniture come in every day. Philly AIDS Thrift is not like many other thrift stores and Goodwills one may shop at. The presentation and setup is overwhelming to first time visitors. Mismatched clothing hangs on racks lining much of the two levels of the store. Obscure knick-knacks fill the shelves of the lower-levels, while books, music, and toys fill those of the second floor. Broken mannequins style some of the more common donations for shoppers to view. Across the street, Philly AIDS Thrift maintains an overflow warehouse, where much of the furniture and extra clothing are stored.


According to the Philadelphia Department of Health, there are approximately 30,000 people in the Greater Philadelphia Area living with HIV/AIDS. Also, people in the Philadelphia area are being infected at a rate of 50% higher than New Yorkers. Some shoppers come for the low prices, some come for the cause, and others come for their love of thrift stores.


"It's good to shop in a thrift store with this economy, but I shopped here for the cause for years," says shopper Laura Richlan. In a tight economy, Philly AIDS Thrift is able to give back to its community two-fold, by selling gently used items to shoppers at considerably lower cost than department stores. According to management, Philly AIDS Thrift hopes to open a second store elsewhere in Center City.


Philly AIDS Thrift operates seven days a week, and always accepts donations of any good condition items, as well as cash and checks. For further information, visit the store at 514 Bainbridge Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19147, visit them online http://www.phillyaidsthrift.com/, or call 215-922-3186.