LAKEVIEW — The Boystown Brown Elephant will close later this month and reopen on Lincoln Avenue by July 1.
"We've been [on Halsted] for about 15 years. It's an institution in Boystown," said David Ernesto Munar, president and CEO of Howard Brown Health Center. "We're sad to go. At the same time, we have to serve the mission."
The Brown Elephant resale store is a fundraising arm for Howard Brown, which offers free and sliding-scale care for the LGBT community.
Munar said a long-term lease at the Boystown Brown Elephant, 3651. N. Halsted St., is up at the end of June. About a year ago, Howard Brown staff started running cost comparisons in new locations.
They found that by moving into a sprawling retail space at 3020 N. Lincoln Ave. — which once housed Flourish studios and an antique store — Howard Brown would save big.
"Rent alone is 20 percent cheaper," Munar said. And "there's all these conference rooms in the back, so we can do some meetings, community forums, behavioral health therapy — even some HIV testing."
In the front, Munar hopes to create "a modern retail experience" by culling vintage and higher-end donations for the Lakeview store.
"Even though its a resale store, [we want] the experience for shoppers to mimic a boutique or any kind of funky store that you'd find in the neighborhood," Munar said.
"Some people are very happy to dive into a dumpster and seach for a gem, and other people want to have that work done for them. We're kind of experimenting with this store, taking it up a notch."
Staff are using donated antiques as display cases, and designer clothing is featured in its own room. In coming months, artwork will be added to the mix.
If the approach goes well in Lakeview, Munar said, it could be extended to the Brown Elephant's two other locations in Andersonville and Oak Park.
With only two weeks left for the Halsted store, staff have started moving clothing and furniture to its new Lincoln Avenue home. Toward the end of June, any remaining items in the Boystown location will be marked down at least 50 percent.
To donate, visit the Brown Elephant website. The store will pick up large furniture for free.