DENVER — Denver’s homeless are getting more help thanks to five men with passion to serve.
They have created what they call the world’s first free retail clothing store.
Located off 25th and Welton streets in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood, the store is called Impact Humanity and it’s unique storefront is attracting huge crowds.
“They can get a little bit of everything, from tennis shoes, to T-shirts,” store owner Travis Smith said.
But there’s something noticeable missing from his storefront: A cash register.
That’s because everything in the store is free for those in need, no questions asked.
Smith said after hours of online searches, he’s come to the conclusion that the store is the first of its kind in the world.
There are other free places to get clothes, but they often require people to get a referral or be part of a jobs program.
“There’s no hoops here,” Smith said.
The store opened this week, drawing hundreds of people.
“The grand opening was amazing. We literally had a line down the street. Two-hundred twenty-five people the first day, and averaging 100 people per day since then,” Smith said.
That included Christopher King, who has been homeless for about a year. He said finding comfortable clothes, is nearly impossible.
“Very often what we have to do is wear things that don’t actually fit,” King said. “But here, you have the option to find things that really fit.”
King was so grateful for his new pair of sneakers, he came back on Saturday to work as a volunteer.
“I’m here now to give back to the community,” he said.
The store is run by volunteers, and relies on donations from stores and from the public to stay open.
Smith has been handing out clothing to the homeless for six years already, so he’s built a nice list of donors.
“This is nothing new for us,” he said. “It’s just a new location and venue.”
The physical store is a dream come true for Smith, who was homeless eight years ago.
“I unfortunately had to go through a tough experience myself,” Smith said. “You have to face some very tough choices and tough realities. And clothing is a thing where, while a lot of people donate it to various organizations, it doesn’t get handed out freely, especially to the people with the most need, and that’s the people on the streets.”
He’s hoping Impact Humanity will change that.
“I’ve seen a lot of tears already this week,” he said.
The store is open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday. Donations are accepted during business hours, on Saturdays, or by appointment.