Philly AIDS Thrift wins $10K at luncheon celebrating LGBT business leaders

Philly AIDS Thrift wins $10K at luncheon celebrating LGBT business leaders

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At the sixth-annual Business Leaders Luncheon last week, Philly AIDS Thrift received $10,000 from PNC Bank and the Independence Business Alliance, the region’s LGBT chamber of commerce.

“It’s especially nice coming from a business organization and that our peers in the business community like what we’re doing,” said Roy DeLaMar, vice president of the PAT board.

Philly AIDS Thrift has a flagship store in East Passyunk. Two years ago, it opened a second location, Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room, at one of the oldest LGBT bookstores in the country, temporarily closed in 2014 before PAT revived it. 

The thrift store will put the $10,000 award toward improving the look and function of its website,; enhancing its search prominence; and exploring targeted ad buys in online and print media. PAT wants to grow its Giovanni’s Room shop in part by increasing online awareness.

“I’m proud to say we have been very true to the legacy of Giovanni’s Room,” DeLaMar said. “A large portion of what we sell there is new books and LGBT titles, but we do it with Philly AIDS Thrift style … We think there’s a real opportunity for us to take our online sales to scale there.”

The money customers spend at PAT gets distributed to HIV/AIDS organizations throughout the Delaware Valley. This year, the store gave a total of $146,000 in grants to 17 organizations, bringing its total contributions to HIV/AIDS causes to more than $1.5 million since its 2005 inception.

DeLaMar accepted the LGBT Business Award in recognition of innovative practices May 13 at Sofitel Hotel in Rittenhouse. Alan Chelak, manager of Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room, stood with him. 

IBA executive director Zach Wilcha used the occasion to unveil the chamber’s new multicolored logo featuring overlapping stars.

Mayor Jim Kenney delivered opening remarks. He touched on this month’s federal guidance reaffirming a trans-inclusive interpretation of Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in education. He also noted his tweet in support of a lesbian student at a school near Harrisburg who was kicked out of her prom for wearing a suit.     

“That elicited this barrage of ugly, poisonous, nasty crap,” Kenney said. “It’s still dangerous out there … That’s why we all need to stick together.”

Julie Coker Graham, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, was the keynote speaker. She announced the 2017 Out and Equal Workplace Summit would take place in Philadelphia, and praised her organization’s partners at Visit Philadelphia for making the city a top LGBT destination.

Coker Graham added that the diversity of people, practices and businesses was a pivotal piece of Philadelphia’s bid to host the Democratic National Convention in July.

“Philadelphia is truly open for business for everyone,” she said. “Diversity and inclusion are necessary ingredients for success … Not only do we talk about the diversity of our city, but we also talk about the diversity of the companies that are here and that they can do business with.” 

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