Out of the Closet brings HIV/AIDS awareness and discount shopping together under one roof

By : Jeremy Williams
Comments: 0

ST. PETERSBURG – Out of the Closet, a thrift store with a twist which benefits the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, is opening a new location in St. Petersburg with a big grand opening celebration May 13.

Out of the Closet St. Pete is located at 3400 26th Ave. South and offers up designer clothes, furniture and housewares at a fraction of the cost.

Out of the Closet has 21 locations throughout across the U.S. and, unlike your typical gently-used discount thrift stores, they serve a variety of purposes for the organization.

“One thing we do is to provide some great quality, trendy clothing for the local community at a discounted price,” says Imara Canady, Regional Director of Communications and Community Engagement for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “I think it’s important to note that most of the money raised from the thrift stores, 96 cents of every dollar, is invested back into the work that we do around advocacy and HIV/AIDS services.”

The main thing that separates Out of the Closet from other retail stores is that along with selling products, it is also a safe place to get a free, private one-minute rapid HIV test.

“We want to create safe spaces that help to remove some of the stigma and judgment around people who are being proactive and getting tested,” Canady says. “So no one knows if you are in the store just doing a little shopping or if you are there to get tested.”

Out of the Closet in St. Petersburg will also offer pharmacy services so that those who are diagnosed with HIV can also pick up antiretroviral medications from them as well.

Anything that can help eliminate the stigma and fear of getting an HIV test would be welcomed in the Tampa Bay area. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tampa/St. Petersburg ranks among the top 20 cities in the nation for new HIV/AIDS diagnoses.

“We choose our Out of the Closet locations based on how we think we will be received in that community,” Canady says.”But also where we think the other services in the space can be beneficial.”

Out of the Closet’s big grand opening isn’t just to show their great prices, although that is part of it, but along with the free food, music and ribbon cutting you can see just what they bring to the community.

“It allows people to see whether they are coming down to donate or shop; that they are really helping out the cause; that their money is being reinvested into some critical work for our local communities around HIV/AIDS,” Canaday says.

Out of the Closet will be kicking off their 2017 Vespa Sprint Scooter giveaway campaign at the grand opening. To get entered in the contest, all you need to do is come into Out of the Closet and have an HIV test done.

Out of the Closet also offers free pickup on large donated items. Check out OutOfTheCloset.org for more information on their services and to see all 21 locations.

Share this story: