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HoMie Pop-Up Store Aims to Outfit the Homeless in Free First-hand Clothes

A new social enterprise has the vulnerable and comfortable shopping from the same rack.
By Lucinda Starr
April 14, 2015
By Lucinda Starr
April 14, 2015

Giving back and scoring some sweet new threads sound too good to be true? Naysayers, HoMie is here to dispel your doubt. A pop-up store with a heart of gold, HoMie is an initiative of Homeless of Melbourne, who put a creative spin on social justice.

Boasting both up-and-coming as well as established local designers, the store will donate a piece of clothing to a member of the homeless community for each item purchased. For co-founder Nick Pearce, this 'one for one' policy "is a new way of trying to reinvigorate that whole outdated op-shop scenario and bring in something new and diverse, and hopefully have a bit of an impact in the homeless sector".

With its first-hand clothes, new fit-out and mix of paying and non-paying clientele, HoMie aims to create a dignified shopping experience for Melbourne's homeless. Their crew of dedicated suppliers will be going that extra mile too, donating their time and expertise to running workshops that focus on increasing employability and life skills for Melbourne's most vulnerable.

If their inventive project hasn't hooked you in already, a scroll through their Facebook page is sure to fix that. The charity has been collecting the stories of the city's battlers for the past eight months and sharing them online to debunk misconceptions about homelessness. They've garnered close to 15,000 followers. "We wanted to make people stop and think about where these people come from, so we're not just walking past, making judgements," says Marcus Crook, the other half of HoM.

Marcus and Nick devised this latest three-month concept store following the success of HoM's Street Store in Federation Square in December last year. Armed with stacks of paper coat hangers and a budding team of eager volunteers, HoM gave Melburnians in need a chance to snag some pre-loved garments.

"The response we got was unbelievable," says Nick, "we found that a lot of people on our page really wanted to help and donate stuff, but they just didn't know how to do it or where to go." That led them to look for a more permanent guise for the Street Store, and so shopfront HoMie was born.

Speaking of dedication to the cause, Nick and Marcus are finding out just what it's like to live on the streets, spending two nights this week camping out in Melbourne's CBD for a humbling insight into the realities of life without a secure home. "We don't think its anything special because obviously people do it every night of their lives," says Marcus, "but we're going to be going out there with a sleeping bag and a phone in case of an emergency and just seeing what happens."

Great intentions aside, these grand visions don't come cheap. As a grassroots organisation, HoMie is all too aware of the costs of CBD rent. They've turned to Pozible to raise $10,000 towards the rent and associated start-up costs, vowing to employ homeless labourers and designers as much as possible in the process. At time of writing, they're over halfway to their goal, with 17 days to go. Along with the Many Hands online art gallery and the Youth Food Movement Melbourne, the organisation is also in line for additional funds if they meet their target, thanks to burger chain Grill'd's Local Matters donation program. HoMie is vying for $2,000 that goes to the winner of the in-store customer vote at Grill'd restaurants. There's also $500 in it for each project that reaches its Pozible target.

With goals of turning this three-month appearance into a long-term venture, HoMie hopes to open its arms to Melbourne this May. To help make it happen, grab a bite to eat at one of Grill'd Melbourne CBD locations or contribute directly to the Pozible campaign, which includes rewards like art prints and T-shirts.

Published on April 14, 2015 by Lucinda Starr
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