Philly AIDS Thrift in Queen Village

What if your holiday shopping could accomplish two goals at once?

Instead of enriching Amazon or other corporate chains, buying gifts at local businesses benefits the entire community. And when you choose to spend your dollars at Philly shops that already give back in some way — by maintaining ethical sourcing practices, cleaning up trash or donating profits to charity, for example — you effectively double their positive impact.

Here are 10 suggestions for gifts that’ll make people happy and also help make Philadelphia a better place for all.

A restaurant gift card

What better gift is there than the excuse to relax for one night? A bunch of Philly restaurants have philanthropic missions — or at least dedicate a portion of their profits to good causes. Snag someone you love a gift card, that way they’re forced to treat themselves with delicious food.

A few options:

  • Oyster House — the owner is on the board at the Attic Youth Center, so he regularly donates hot meals and offers cooking classes to the LGBTQ youth who access services there
  • Rosy’s Taco Bar — donates a portion of its profits to the National Immigrant Justice Center (and here are some tips on what to order)
  • Taproom on 19th — this South Philly pub collects donated coats and school supplies for the local neighborhood association to distribute

A puppy (or kitten, or cat, or dog)

Be honest, all you really want is a puppy for Christmas. If your holiday shopping list includes living things, there are tons of animal shelters in Philly that rescue local strays and find them loving homes.

Here are a few to look out for:

An antique sofa or funky end table

The North Philly furniture store Uhuru donates 100 percent of its proceeds to the African People’s Education and Defense Fund, a national nonprofit that works to defend the civil rights of African people. Stop by for some gifts, and you can load up on a handful of random items — furniture, antiques, art and collectibles.

That new Michelle Obama book

For the bookworm in the family, check out this Germantown bookstore and cafe. For a neighborhood bookstore, Uncle Bobbie’s has a great selection that features tons of authors of color.

The staff takes time to give back to the Germantown community, offering free services like support groups, book clubs, film screenings and children’s story time events. For Germantown residents with their own community event ideas, Uncle Bobbie’s is willing to offer the space up for free.

A personal transit empowerment tool (aka bike)

Based out of West Philly, the Neighborhood Bike Shop is just like a regular Philly bike store. Inside, you can buy bikes, parts and accessories. On top of that, the shop provides tons of programming for kids and adults in the community, like summer camps, leadership classes and job opportunities.

A diamond ring without the guilt

If you’re trying to give away something shiny this year, there’s a way to do it ethically. The jewelry industry is often called out for being problematic — especially when it comes to diamonds.

But the Philly jewelry store Bario Neal centers ethics above all else, committing to sourcing metals and gems that are conflict free and acquired using fair labor.

A Philly-made hoodie

Every season, the South Philly clothing store Paratodo partners with a different charity and donates 25 percent of its profits to the cause. The store sells casual menswear clothing — think hats, t-shirts and hoodies — all made locally.

Last season, Paratodo’s donations went to All Hands and Hearts to help repair homes in Puerto Rico damaged by Hurricane Maria. The winter 2018 recipient hasn’t yet been announced.

Winter 2018: Perspective Lookbook from Paratodo on Vimeo.

A sleeping bag and camping gear

With locations in Old City and West Philly, United by Blue sells clothes, home goods and camping products. Plus, they organize regular trash cleanups in Philly and around the world. For every product the store sells, United By Blue promises to remove one pound of trash from the world’s waterways.

If you’ve got outdoorsy loved ones, this is a solid option for gifts. They even put together a handy gift guide to make the search process a little easier.

A dish set from 1932 — or a thousand other things

There’s a handful of benefits to shopping at Philly AIDS this holiday season. First: the selection is hard to beat. You’ll find a random collection of items — everything from fancy glassware to ugly sweaters — and it’s all second hand, so you’ll save some cash on the gifts.

Best yet: They give away a ton of money to LGBTQ orgs. In 2017, the nonprofit donated $186,000 in grants to Philly HIV/AIDS service organizations, and the store recently started offering free HIV testing on site.

A Gritty ornament

There’s no time to pretend Philadelphia isn’t the greatest city in the world. That’s especially true when you’re getting gifts for other people.

If you want to shove some Philly down your loved one’s throats, you can snag some Philadelphia ornaments in Fishtown. Called “jawnaments,” the options boast images of soft pretzels, SEPTA trolleys, even Gritty — all for prominent display on your holiday foliage. And a proceed of all the sales will go toward the Fishtown Neighbors Association.

Michaela Winberg is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She covers LGBTQ people and culture, public spaces, and transportation and mobility. She also sometimes produces radio and web features...