Emma Sedlak / Scene
Margie's Closet, on the border of Cleveland and Lakewood.
While Cleveland's LGBTQIA+ community and its allies observed the first weekend of pride month, Margie's Closet, a thrift store catering to the transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive communities, celebrated its grand opening with a wine and cheese night complete with live music, stand-up comedy and even a burlesque performance.
"Some folks may see something like a retail store as a small step, but for those in the trans community, it's a big deal," says co-founder and president of Margie's Hope
, Jacob Nash. More often than not, transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive individuals face difficulties finding safe and affordable places to shop for clothing, binders, and wigs.
From carrying extended sizes in hard-to-find items like shoes and undergarments to providing a safe place for individuals to try on clothes, Margie's Closet aims to provide an inclusive space for transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive individuals to shop at little to no cost to them.
Margie's Closet's voucher program will provide $25 a month to individuals in need. While anyone is welcome to shop, certain items, like wedding dresses, binders, and wigs, will be reserved for folks within the trans community to ensure those items are available when needed. The store will operate with an entirely volunteer staff, and 100% of the proceeds will go toward other Margie's Hope programs to uplift transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive individuals.
Last summer, Studio West unveiled its plans
to transform 100,000 square feet of real estate on the west side of Cleveland into a new LGBTQIA+ ecosystem. Earlier this year, co-developers Betsy Figgie and Daniel Budish approached Margie's Hope, offering space for the organization to open a second-hand clothing store in their Fantasy Center, set to open in June 2022. Although Nash was excited to work with Studio West, he knew the community needed a location to open sooner than next summer. In response, Studio West offered Nash and his associates the storefront on W. 117th street as a temporary home.
Nash received the keys on April 2nd, and within two months, he has transformed the space with neatly organized racks of clothing, sorted by size and whether it goes on the top or bottom of your body, various pride flags, and shelves full of shoes and wigs.
Margie’s Hope will be open from 2-8 Wednesday-Friday, 10-8 on Saturdays, and 1-5 on Sundays, and Nash hopes that the storefront will act as much more than just a retail space.
"This is not Margie's Hope or Margie's Closet's space; This is the community's space," Nash assured. He plans to line the walls with information about different organizations, clinics, and legal resources and use the space to celebrate historical trans figures like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.
"Our mission statement is 'We assist transgender, nonbinary and gender-expansive individuals in need.' We are constantly asking ourselves what that need is," Nash said. He explained that even when Margie's Hope leadership and volunteers were rushing to prepare the shop for the June 4th opening, when an emergency arose in the community, they dropped everything to ensure everyone was safe and cared for.
"It took a whole day away from Margie's Closet, but that's what we do.” Nash said. “We fill whatever needs arise. If someone comes in here and they just need to talk, I'm here to talk."
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