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Out of the Closet preparing to leave Echo Park behind

By BARRY LANK

 Echo Park — Out of the Closet is out of here.

The charity thrift store known for its shocking pink exterior and eye-catching window displays  along Echo Park’s busiest retail corridor has received a 60-day notice to vacate the premises at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Lemoyne Street, according to Ged Kenslea, spokesman for AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the entity that owns Out of the Closet. That means the store has to be out by Aug. 1

Kenslea said AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the landlord had been unable to reach agreeable terms on the rent. There is no word yet on who will be leasing the space, or what will be replacing the large storefront.

The Eastsider contacted a spokeswoman for broker CBRE Southern California, which had been representing the property for lease, for more information.

The property was first listed for lease on Loopnet last November. Retail space along Sunset in Echo Park tends to lease for at least $3 per square-foot on a monthly basis, according to real estate brokers who spoke to the Eastsider at that time.

Brokers also said this was a particular large property for the neighborhood,  with 5,750 square-feet of ground floor retail space, plus 5,500 square-feet in the basement and a 400 square-foot mezzanine, according to the listing.  The most recent marketing information said the landlord was asking $2.66 a square-foot on a monthly basis. That works out to about $30,000 a month in rent if the entire building was leased out at that rate.

Out Of The Closet sells everything from rugs to books to clothing to consumer electronics, with some stores also offering free rapid STD and HIV testing. The company advertises that every 96¢ of every dollar spent at the stores goes to AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s HIV/AIDS programs.

34 comments

  1. really sad. remember the other one 25 yrs. ago. great work and keep the faith.

  2. Out of the Closet is great, but is anybody else thrilled by this? Finally, one of the cornerstone retail spaces of our commercial strip will be something other than a thrift shop (God willing)!

    Now I’m praying that a great brand takes over the space and classes up our little stretch of the woods.

    • No. Not even close to thrilled. With this rent, only a chain will be able to afford the space. This is what happens to quirky and interesting streets when a big brand “classes up” the neighborhood. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/31/fashion/bleecker-street-shopping-empty-storefronts.html

    • Is this a comment by a real estate broker? nice try.

      This Out of the Closet is one of the remaining Echo Park stores that serves and is supportive of and useful for all members of the neighborhood, not just privileged ones. It is a great place, and I know that when it closes, my time in Echo Park comes closer to being at the end.

    • Are you out of your mind? This space will turn into a Wells Fargo in no time.

    • Agree. AHF is a total scam, the millionaire that owns it spends most of the profits on his billboards and ad campaigns and failed ballot measures like Measure S. I’m sure a decent business will come in, we citizens of Echo Park support real businesses, not millionaire-run scams.

    • This is definitely a comment from someone in Internet Marketing / PR. No actual human person gets “thrilled” when a thrift shop closes. Not in a neighborhood like Echo Park.

    • Not thrilled, just the opposite.

  3. umm wtf? i hope youre being sarcastic

  4. Dorit Dowler-Guerrero

    we need rent control for non residential rental property!

  5. hopefully the elected officials’ needless “storefront” offices will be next to go.

  6. After the owner of out of the closet spent a boatload of the AIDS Foundation’s money to try and pass a bad ballot measure (because a new building would mess with his view), it’s tough to support them. Either die a hero or live long enough to become a villain…

  7. AHF is a sham organizztion. I stopped supporting Out of the Closet (run by AHF) when they tried in vein to get involved politically. Until they return to actually helping people and not investing MILLIONS of dollars to sway elections, I won’t support or miss them.

  8. there are several enormous empty storefronts on sunset in echo park. chains don’t want these huge spaces. if an apple store was going to come in, it would have happened already. just gonna be an empty space for a long ass time. too bad, got lots of good shirts and a really ugly painting from OOTC.

    • Chains will eventually pick them up – check out the new mall west of Alvarado. Landlords love chains, loooong spendy leases. The significant ‘when’ question rather depends on the trajectory of the economy and neighbourhood. With several ‘new’ businesses shuttering in the last month (banker bikes, lost knight etc) feels like we’re at a sort of inflection point. Rents seem to have exceeded potential returns of the economic footprint of the nabe. Not enough people have the money to buy that much expensive shite, etc…

  9. thrift shop shell shock

    Bye over priced thrift shop ……won’t be missed. (ps I LOVE thrift stores – real ones).

  10. rent control for everyone now. all business and residents need to be protected.

  11. There has been a listing on Loopnet for this space for months and now it is gone. I think this may mean it has been rented after all. I really wonder what business is able to pay the rent of $30,000?

    • The big chains can easily afford the rent- they can operate at a loss and use it as a write-off while putting competitors out of business.

  12. Got my nightstand and my dining room table from there. Plus I loved getting a bunch of books for a dollar each. This is very sad news. I don’t care if the owner is a millionaire or a jerk, this was a good resource the neighborhood needed.

  13. Neighborhood groceries, low key cheap bars & diners ——and thrift stores are what give city neighborhoods character. Due to short sighted greedy landlords, all of these elements are a dying breed in EP.

    Out of the Closet Echo Park, for me, was one of the most important stores in our neighborhood.

    It was run by super cool people -truly, a great staff – it’s a non-profit w/a -very important- mission,
    and it’s constantly brimming with affordable treasures.

    This business will be BADLY missed by all true Echo Parkians.

    PLEASE! find another location close by.

  14. Many will say that neighborhood has evolved and it is time for something more upscale that better suits the needs of an increasingly more upscale local population. While I am inclined to think the same clearly not all do. Let’s at least agree it would be best if it is an honest business that moves in as Out of The Closet/AIDS Healthcare Foundation has lost its way under the strange leadership of Michael Weinstein.

    • I pray the new upscale population finds another location trendy and all move there. Please – Stanton, Calfifornia, become the new go-to location for the gentrifying robo sheep. I can’t wait until I overhear outside some hip-for-a-second bar or infused-tea hangout “Echo Park is SO done – have you heard about Stanton? I’m having my real-estate life coach shaman check into a luxury trailer there”.

  15. Good to hear.

  16. Bad news. Anyone wanting a “great brand” to replace an excellent thrift store with the most creative window displays around is obviously, as suggested above, a corporate developer real estate shill or a recent gentrifier sucking the soul right out of what used to be one hell of a neighborhood. I pray no pilates no vegan foodie bistro not another boutique no entrepeneur start up stupidity for rich poseurs to find wonderful things to spend their excess money on please no chains no corporate invasion. The starbucks burger chain verizon corporate mall west of alvarado is a heartbreaker already. Why all you corporate creeps decide you dig Echo Park so much? Man what a drag. And the mermaid gone too. Can’t wait to see what robotic sheep marketing hoopla suckass cookie cutter garbage nonsense will go in there. Please, you corprate shills – move to Orange County. Please go there.

  17. So— a greedy landlord want an ‘edgy’ new chain store to fill this space?
    How about “Out of the Closet Thrift Store?”
    It’s a chain, that can afford your stupid rent, and it’s well-loved by many, if not most. And its profits go to the clinic that keeps me alive with medications. Really? the landlord wants to double the rent? We’ve seen this play out before. The losers are the residents of the area, watching the space sit empty, and trash and tagging begin to build up. You don’t have a BID in Echo Park like we do in Downtown, to clean up the homeless poop and tagging every next morning.

    Honestly, we should force these landlords to live in the neighborhoods they control –for at least 6 months…

    (former resident since 1987, until 2008)

    • Echo Park Chamber has been working on a BID for a few years now and is close to completion. Do you think it will change anything?

  18. they’re going to put a shoe store there. How do i know? I worked for AHF and Out of the Closet.

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