Arts & Life, Special Projects, Student Choice Awards Winner

Thrift for a cause at Out of the Closet

Out of the Closet, a second-hand and vintage thrift store, provides the community with both high-quality merchandise and health resources.

Featuring a wide array of items, customers can peruse through high-quality vintage wedding dresses, suits, lively accessories, appliances and more. Voted “Best Place to Drip for Less” by Long Beach State students, the unique garments have drawn attention to the store.

From costumes to business casual, Out of the Closet features a variety of styles available to customers.
From costumes to business casual, Out of the Closet features a variety of styles available to customers. Photo credit: Christal Gaines-Emory

Group store manager Michael Saunders has been working at the store for 25 years and he has enjoyed giving back to the community and developing a relationship with each customer that walks through the door.

“We’re a more eclectic organization, we’re all-inclusive. Everyone is welcome,” Saunders said. “Just by going to work, I can actually make a difference in people’s lives. It’s amazing to me.”

Saunders has seen a variety of people visit the store throughout the past 25 years, and it has always been important to him to treat every person with respect and make them feel welcome while providing quality goods.

“It’s amazing the articles that come through here, you know, the clothing, the furniture, all that stuff. You could furnish your house, you can furnish your wardrobe and spend very little money,” Saunders said.

Marie Ramsden, an Out of the Closet employee, enjoys the bright and lively nature of the thrift store.

“It’s always full of color and different vibes, there’s studious clothing, costumes and elegant dresses. It’s always an adventure,” Ramsden said. “That’s the treasure hunt, everyday is different here.”

For Seamus Holton, another employee, says the energy is the best part of working at the store.

“I’ve been working here for two years and it never feels like work,” Holton said. “We’re all about giving good energy and making people smile, everybody’s so positive and it’s nice to see them smile.”

Besides merchandise, healthcare assistance through the AIDS Healthcare Foundation pharmacy is available, complete with HIV and AIDS treatment and a free HIV testing location.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation Pharmacy, located in the Out of the Closet thrift store, provides affordable HIV and AIDS treatment along with free HIV testing.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation Pharmacy, located in the Out of the Closet thrift store, provides affordable HIV and AIDS treatment along with free HIV testing. Photo credit: Christal Gaines-Emory

According to the website, 96 cents of every dollar spent goes directly into services provided by AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Not only that, the foundation has helped to form thrift stores and clinics worldwide. In recent years, Saunders has seen an increase in patients asking for services through the wellness program.

“The STD testing has skyrocketed,” Saunders said. “It seems like the community appreciates us and what we do for Long Beach, the items we provide as well as the services.”

In addition to the philanthropy, the store offers eye-catching items that are affordable. Cost-effective items along with many discounts offered, Out of the Closet has many options available for students. Not only that, the thrift store accepts donations everyday, so the inventory is constantly changing.

Vinyls are available at Out of the Closet for an affordable price, along with hundreds of vintage books, DVDs and more.
Vinyls are available at Out of the Closet for an affordable price, along with hundreds of vintage books, DVDs and more. Photo credit: Christal Gaines-Emory

“We’re always available for students, any of their needs,” Saunders said. “I love when students come in looking for themed party costumes or formal outfits, they get excited when I put something together for them. It’s enjoyable, helping people is the best part of my day.”

 

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