Philly AIDS Thrift, the hidden gem in Queen Village that gives its profits to AIDS research
Since opening in 2005, the organization has given $3.2 million to AIDS research organizations.
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In 2005, Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou and a few of her friends decided to start a nonprofit organization where a majority of sales would go to AIDS research.
Their perfect combo of the two manifested in the Philly AIDS Thrift store in South Philly.
“We’re long-time AIDS activists, lovers of junk, so we kind of put those two together and this is kind of what we created,” Saritsoglou told AL DÍA News in a recent interview.
Their original store was located around the corner from their current location at 710 S. 5th St. in Queen Village.
“It was way smaller than what we have now, and we were there for five years,” said Saritsoglou. “It did continue to grow until we really outgrew the space.”
Believing that her new space was too big, they progressively filled their space up with unique treasures to attract locals.
“Of course in time, we began to fill it more than we thought we could ever do,” she said.
Their new space, which was once a furniture store, finally expanded to something amazing, and became a two-story building filled with an abundance of novelties.
It was then that Saritsoglou decided to find some help.
“It was just a handful of volunteers that were helping us, and pre-covid, there were about 100 volunteers, with 25 paid staff people,” she said.
Outside of staff and operating costs, the non-profit gives all of its proceeds to local HIV organizations.
“Our community is a big reason why we are able to give proceeds to local organizations to help AIDS research,” she expressed.
Since 2005, Philly AIDS Thrift has donated more than $3.2 million to AIDS research organizations.
It’s done on the back of its eclectic assortment of goods.
“I do think that we have such an assortment of different items for people who share certain interests,” she said.
The store also focuses on adding items that you cannot find anywhere else.
“We prefer to have gently used items, things that usually don’t have stains or tears, we also take furniture, books, records, you name it,” said Saritsoglou.
In addition to the attention-grabbing items that you can find, there is a section in the store called ‘DollarLand’ where you can find books, and clothes for a dollar and under.
“We also have dollar bins that have pretty good stuff, we even have a vintage room,” she said. “It’s going to be a bit of a higher price, but you can certainly find that antique piece that you’ve been looking for.”
About six years ago, Saritsoglou also opened an on-site, free HIV testing facility on the second floor of her shop.
The facility is currently closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We partnered with four different HIV organizations and they use the space and provide rapid HIV testing on the weekends,” she said.
She wanted to make sure that people felt safe and comfortable when having to go through something that can be considered invasive.
“The idea behind putting something like that in this non-traditional space is a way to normalize the stigma of getting tested,” she responded.
Whether you’re a music lover or a bookworm, Philly AIDS Thrift has all your unique interests covered.