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Out of the Closet: Thrifty shopping and health services all under 1 roof

Out of the Closet thrift store and Tiffany Roan, Georgia regional director for AIDS Healthcare Foundation (Photo credit: Tigner for Steed Media)

Cloaked inside a nifty thrift store, the AIDS Health Foundation combines shopping and health services all under one roof. Out of The Closet is a thrift store with some amazing items, including furniture, clothes, music, shoes and jewelry— a cornucopia of just about anything. What’s unique is its full-service pharmacy and a testing site for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.

Out of the Closet (OTC) is the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s chain of thrift shops located in more than 20 cities across the United States. The Atlanta store on Cheshire Bridge Road has served the community since 2016. The store’s mission is to be more than a thrift store. 

Tiffany Roan, Georgia regional director for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, summarizes its mission through OTC: “We realized people can shop while waiting to be tested because it takes the anxiety out of it.”

Testing takes place in little rooms that resemble dressing rooms. They are very discrete, which makes people feel comfortable about testing. In addition, OTC’s pharmacy is a community pharmacy.

“Anyone can use our pharmacy,” Roan says. “It is a full-fledged retail pharmacy.” 

OTC wants to be a staple in the Atlanta community, a place where people can shop, mix, mingle and have fun.

What we really want to be is a gathering place,” Roan says.

OTC has hosted several events such as their “Sip & Shop,” a Sunday brunch catered with finger food and wine where ladies can bring their friends to shop and have fun. Roan says, “Before the end of the year, we plan to do more fun things by hosting our first film screening on the lawn.”

Getting everyone tested

AHF’s goal is to get as many people tested as possible not just at the various healthcare centers in Lithonia, Midtown, Piedmont and Newnan, Georgia locations but also on their mobile vans, too.

“We want people to know their status. That’s why you will see our mobile vans at events all over the metro,” Roan explains.

AHF will have testing vans at the upcoming Afro-Punk festival October 13-14.  Participating at Afro-Punk “has been a major nuance we have gotten involved in,” Roan says. “Unfortunately, we have found a lot of [HIV] positives there, but it showed us we needed to be there.”

Five things to know about AHF

  1. It is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. 
  2. 96 cents of every dollar raised through OTC thrift store or pharmacy services goes back into the organization to service  patients and clients
  3. It has a holistic model. It’s not just about medicine and doctors, it’s about life. AHF treats people, not disease and wants to get the people it serves everything they need so they can thrive, not just live.
  4. It is not a gay organization but available for whoever needs their services. 
  5. It is not a box model but an organization that can be nimble and flexible enough to meet the needs of that geographical community.

If you have large items to donate, you don’t have to figure out how to get them there. OTC has a pickup service, which services metro Atlanta at no cost. Just call the hotline at (877) 2-PICK-IT-UP, or go online to schedule an appointment time. Out of the Closet is a nonprofit, and anything that is donated is a tax write-off.