New thrift store offers deals, free HIV testing

Out of the closet

- A new thrift store opening this weekend offers more than just good deals--it just may save some lives.

"Out of the Closet" will hold its grand opening Saturday morning.  The AIDS Healthcare Foundation operates the store which offers free HIV testing as well as discounted clothing and housewares.

"We're not just a thrift store," said Paul Stanley, the store's district manager.  "96 cents of every dollar that we create goes back to the organization."

The money generated pays for the free in-store HIV screenings and assists HIV and AIDS patients all over the globe.  Out of the Closet already has 19 locations in Florida, Texas, California, New York, Ohio and Washington, but this is the first location in the state of Georgia.

"AHF is a huge organization.  It's a non-profit organization and we are servicing people in 36 countries.  So, it's not just Florida or Atlanta or LA," explained Stanley.

Gregory Jacques serves as the associate director of testing programs for Out of the Closet and said some of the busiest stores test 400 people a month for HIV.

"The resources here in Atlanta [are] very scarce," said Jacques. "So, we want to have a place where people can come and not be judged, feel comfortable."

One of the benefits of offering testing within the store, Jacques explained, is that people do not feel as though everyone knows they are there for an HIV test.

"Especially in the black community, we deal with a lot of stigma," said Jacques.  "It's a nontraditional venue.  It's not your typical 'doctor's office' or the HIV clinic, what is known in some communities.  You can come in and people will think you're coming here to see the pharmacist or to shop, but lo and behold, you're probably coming in here to get a free HIV test and you're in and out and no one knows your business."

Out of the Closet opens Saturday at 10 a.m.  It is located on Cheshire Bridge Road.

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