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The Street Store: Non-Profit Pop-Up Boutiques For The Homeless

The best businesses don't always prove themselves by turning a profit. Some are simply out to make a The Street StoreThe Street Storedifference in the world. I rarely feature non-profits, but a Cape Town, South Africa business is far too cool to overlook with its mission to help the homeless in a unique way.

The Street Store, like many popular businesses, doesn't operate at a fixed location. Instead, it is setup as a pop-up store that travels around the city. While it is a not for profit business, it operates very similarly in structure to many retail businesses. While that may not sound like it is exciting and unique, it is that fact that it resembles a common consumer structure that makes it special and worth talking about. 

The homeless, lacking in cash flow, don't typically have the luxury to shop the way the rest of us do. They can't browse racks of items at boutiques, or select their preferred spaghetti sauce choice from the shelves at a grocery store. Instead, they take what they are given and need to simply be grateful for the generosity of others. Of course, this sort of charitable structure cannot be talked down upon. But that doesn't mean that where possible, the less fortunate shouldn't have the option of "shopping" in an environment that gives them a better sense of normalcy.

That is exactly what The Street Store offers them. It uses cardboard dividers and displays to create pop-up boutiques on Cape Town sidewalks. The homeless can browse the clothing options with greater dignity, and select items that fit their fashion aesthetics, and their shape and size. Of course, there is no retail transaction as items are donated and given to homeless individuals.

Now, this business doesn't come without controversy. There are people who will say that the homeless are lucky to get whatever they get, that they've put themselves in these scenarios and shouldn't get special treatment. But there are many individuals down on their luck due to situations beyond their control. And these individuals will feel like they're worthy of returning to a "normal" life and working towards it if the life they are living today has even the smallest ties to the regular life they remember. That's why The Street Store offers this.

So, a clothing distributor following a typical structure may not sound like anything thrilling. But in reality, this non-profit is such a smart business because it is so normal.

What do you think about it what The Street Store is doing?

Via: Cool Business Ideas