I’ll go ahead and admit it, I’m scared to post this review for three reasons: first, I hate to speak ill of an institution that distributes free condoms and promotes free HIV testing; secondly, because it will truly reveal how cheap I actually am; and lastly, because I love thrift stores. Maybe I was too pumped up to finally visit the famous chain for the first time and that’s why I ended up let down. But, the truth is, I was really disappointed with Out of the Closet.
“Shopping at Out of the Closet is probably the easiest way to make a personal impact in the global fight against HIV and AIDS.” – Jonahthan Kreuyer, national Manager of Retail Operations, Out of the Closet
I’ve known about L.A.’s Out of the Closet stores for a while now, thanks to the magic of cable television. When host Niecy Nash would wave her sassy finger around about the clutter that was bringing down a family in store for a fabulous makeover from the Style Network show “Clean House”, it was Out of the Closet who came and whisked away what didn’t sell at the yard sale to thin out the glut of possessions. I grew up poring over our local thrift stores with my family and loved the idea that this adorably punny-named, progressive national chain was doing the resale/upcycle thing to benefit the LGBT community.
Flash forward about ten years, and I was beside myself that one was coming to my neck of the woods in North Hollywood. From the outside, I was really impressed with the chic look and feel of the building. But it stopped at the fabulous facade, as the inside was a little tough to navigate and seemed disorganized and over-stocked. (Maybe because they still had a Mini Cooper still crammed in the corner from their grand opening a few weeks ago?) Things were packed tight on the racks and the small space did not have a good flow. Given the current economy, though, one definitely can’t complain that people are willing to be so generous.
But it stands to reason that when you receive generously, you ought to share that good fortune. And picking up shoes, albiet from a well-known designer, and seeing a forty-five dollar price tag at a second hand store is shocking, to me. Maybe I just have tremendously sophisticated tastes, but each item I picked up made me more and more peeved at their sky-high prices.
I tried to reason that the proceeds go to charity. But my favorite modest little local haunt, St. Anne’s Thrift, benefits at-risk women and children, has a fantastic selection, keeps their prices incredibly low, and still ends up with a respectable three-and-a-half out of five star rating on Yelp. Which is about the same average rating as the Out of the Closet locations, despite not having car give aways, a star-studded Macklemore parody video, nor being equipped with iPads to sign up for email lists.
If dropping a Benjamin or putting a triple digit purchase on your card to put together one new outfit is a bargain for your budget, that’s great. Please, check out Out of the Closet, and contribute to an incredibly worthwhile charity while freshening up your wardrobe. But I enjoy thrift shopping because I won’t spend that kind of cash for a purse and a new dress, so I’ll keep the little places in business while you guys do the rest. Deal? Good! Cause I love deals. — Casandra Armour