A couple of minds came together and thought up a dignified and humane way to connect the people who have too much with the people who have nothing – The Street Store, a charity that donates clothing to the homeless. It is a rent-free, building free, pop-up clothing store that gives clothing away to the poor, absolutely free.

Street store

“Our client, The Haven Night Shelter for the homeless, wanted to bring in donations and generate awareness. We didn’t want to do just a cold clothing drive, because while it may make people donate once, we wanted to make them want to donate in the future too.” – Levitan

Copywriter Kayli Vee Levitan of M&C Saatchi Abel and Max Pazak are the founders of Street Store. The inspiration came to them one day as they were standing on their office balcony looking down and observing all the people passing by below. Levitan explains to Design Daba:

“Our offices are in Green Point – a very hip and trendy area, but where you find a lot of homeless people. We saw how the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ cross one another’s paths on the streets, but never really meet. The ‘haves’ fear the homeless and get frustrated with their begging – so they begin to ignore them. This dehumanizes the homeless which makes them feel even more comfortable with begging as they begin to see the ‘haves’ as pockets [of money], rather than people. This vicious cycle of dehumanization separates these two worlds.”

This circle of degradation that homeless people face on a daily basis is the cycle that The Street Store aims to shatter. They realized that conventional methods of charity are uninspirational so they created a fresh approach to solve the dilemma.

January of 2014, in Cape Town, South Africa, was the first successful Street Store launched. Levitan recalls the day, “all the donated clothing was hung up individually on so the homeless could browse through the garments and not have to dig through bins. Volunteers were on hand to help people pick out clothing that worked for the shoppers. It was a complete success. They gave away 1,000 bags off clothing that day.”

Street Stores around the world

Since then the rent-free, pop-up charity has been held in cities across the globe. It’s escalating progress is thanks to the minimal nature of its infrastructure. With just the help of a few volunteers and some pieces of cardboard, the Street Store can pop up anywhere in the world. When all the items of clothing have been taken and it’s time to close the shop, the cardboard posters are collected and recycled, thus leaving no trace of The Street Store.

Street store cardboard

Getting started is easy. The first step is to access the Street Store start-up guide. Then follow the instructions. It is recommended that whoever decides to open a shop collaborates with a local homeless shelter or organization since volunteers are needed to administrate the event. Open-source poster designs can be downloaded from TheStreetStore.org, then printed and assembled. They serve as hangers and placemats to hold clothing donations. A store can open anywhere there is a public space as it is the easiest way to connect the homeless to the city. There should be a large fence at the location to hang the posters.

“We just want The Street Store to continue growing around the world. We are continually adding new languages and assisting people globally to make their dream of hosting a Street Store come to life. Since 14 January 2014, more than 500 stores have popped up in 200+ cities – we’d like this number to continue growing… forever.” – Levitan.