The Street Store is a free pop-up clothing store for homeless people, aiming to “provide the homeless with the same dignity afforded to paying customers”.
Originally launched in South Africa, the rent-free temporary store sees groups of volunteers gather donations from their local community and display them in an outdoor shop, making items of clothing and accessories available for free to homeless people in poor neighborhoods.
Premises-free, The Street Store instead uses cardboard branding to set up its outlets in public venues and on sidewalks. Each store is stocked with donated clothes, and the cardboard doubles as stands and hangers to present the items much like a typical fashion store. Although all of the items are free for the poor to take, volunteers are on hand to give customers advice on which fashions might suit them best.
When the first “store” opened in 2014 in Cape Town, around 1,000 homeless people visited and walked away with a new outfit — for some, the first they’d been able to choose themselves for a long time.
While The Street Store originates from South Africa, homelessness is by no means exclusive to the country. That said, The Street Store founders Kayli Levitan and Max Pazak have taken the concept worldwide by making their materials open-source, and encouraging people around the world to host their own stores.
The Street Store pop-ups have since been held in São Paulo, London, Mumbai and Melbourne, among other cities.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea