Man living in Phoenix thrift store faces losing everything, but stays hopeful

Posted at 9:02 AM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 11:21:51-05

PHOENIX — It may be small, but it’s Edward Blackwell’s whole world.

He named his small thrift store on the corner of 15th and Grand avenues after his mother who passed away in 2010. He opened “The Giving Vine Thrift Store" in 2019 as a tribute to her memory and his newfound faith.

Inside, the store has everything -- clothes, shoes, houseware, art, and other hidden gems for buyers to find. Every item in the store has been received as donations, hoping to give them new life and a new home.

His hope is to not only own his own business, but dedicate part of the proceeds to local charities. It was his passion project.

"This place was not making enough revenue, so I was using the other job to be able to do this job," said Blackwell.

In February of 2020, he no longer had other means of income. He hoped the thrift store would make enough money to get by, but he found himself unable to afford the apartment he lived in.

That’s when he packed up his things and moved into his small shop.

“It just was breaking me, I was like, this is awful and I see it on TV and I said, 'it’s happening to me now,'" he said.

There’s no kitchen, but the dual residential-commercial building means each unit has a full bathroom.

COVID-19 has kept many shoppers from coming in. He’s tried to use social media to get the word out, but it’s not enough.

Blackwell admits he hasn’t been able to pay rent in three months, so he wasn’t surprised when he found a summons to appear in court on his door Thursday morning.

Blackwell faces eviction if he can’t come up with the money to pay his landlord -- a risk of losing both his home and his business in one day.

"He’s a businessman just like I am," said Blackwell. "I respect him because he’s going about it the right process, he’s not being an evil person, he’s not being vindictive and he gave us all this time.”

His attitude and outlook on life are optimistic despite the struggle.

“I didn’t think about what could go wrong, I thought about what could go right," added Blackwell. "That’s all I thought about and that’s what I have to do because otherwise the weight of the situation... I’m not gonna make it.“

Blackwell tells ABC15 he has a saying: “Cool heads never sweat."

That motto, along with prayer, is keeping him grounded through his fight to survive.

"I’m not asking for anyone to give me anything. I’m just asking for them to come and shop.”

However, Blackwell was convinced to create a way for people to donate. If you would like to help out visit his GoFundMe page.