Patricia Jameson said she noticed the new, bright pink building at 1600 University Ave. on her way to work a few days ago. But it was the name emblazoned on the side of the building – Magic Johnson – that drew her in.
“I’m a fan,” said Jameson, an Oakland resident who works in Berkeley.
The building is the Out of the Closet thrift shop, which held its grand opening Wednesday and will raise money for the Magic Johnson Clinic AIDS Healthcare Center on 30th Street in Oakland.
The clinic is one of eleven health care centers operated by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in California. The foundation, which also operates clinics in Florida and New York, provides free HIV care and medicines to 11,000 patients nationwide, about half of them in California.
Basketball star Magic Johnson, who has HIV, has lent his name to the organization and the foundation places that name on thrift stores and clinics in neighborhoods with substantial African-American populations.
“He wanted to lend his name to help get African-Americans into care,” said Ian Killips, the foundation’s director of national marketing, noting that African-Americans are disproportionately affected by the virus.
The thrift shop is the newest of 18 “Out of the Closet” stores in the state, and is the first in Northern California.
“It’s a wonderful addition to the neighborhood,” said City Councilmember Dona Spring, who attended the grand opening. “It goes for a wonderful cause, to help people with a very serious illness.”
Spring said the store also encourages locals to resell their clothing and appliances, rather than adding to landfills, which benefits the environment.
“It’s everything Berkeley is about,” she said.
General manager John Nieto said the foundation is looking to open another shop in Berkeley, possibly closer to the university, and a higher-end facility on Market Street in San Francisco.
The University Avenue shop received a boost with a number of donations from the entertainment industry. The X-Files, a Fox TV series, donated a couch, dresser, computer desk and coffee table from its set, and a pool table from director Ron Howard is on the way.
Killips said the foundation’s thrift shops account for $6 million to $7 million of the organization’s annual $70 million budget.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation also engages in political advocacy focused on HIV patients with limited political clout, Killips said. Gay men, people of color, immigrants and the incarcerated are some of the group’s primary constituencies, he said.