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Community steps up to help man living in Valley thrift store

Edward Blackwell
Posted at 10:31 PM, Dec 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 00:37:12-05

PHOENIX  — When ABC15 first met Edward Blackwell, he was seven days away from becoming homeless. Now, he's free from a looming eviction date - and he says he has hundreds of "guardian angels" to thank.

ABC15 first aired the story of Blackwell's financial struggles last Thursday. That's the day he discovered a notice on his door ordering him to appear in court for failure to pay rent for three months.

"Our landlord is a great landlord," Blackwell said Thursday. "He gave us time to do something, but things didn’t change."

COVID-19 slowed business for his small shop The Giving Vine Thrift Store off 15th Avenue and Grand. Blackwell said he was only making a few sales a week.

He moved into the small space in February and sleeps on a small fold out mattress behind rows of clothing racks.

“The toughest thing to do is not to think about the situation that you’re in, and to think about what you can do to fix the problem.”

By the weekend, Blackwell says traffic picked up at his store. He made more sales than he had in months and started getting donations from strangers who heard of his struggle.

"There’s like 162 people that have donated online and there’s another 30 or 40 that came into the store. I mean, people driving from all over the Valley and people even mailed support in the mail.”

After paying off his debt, Blackwell says he was told the eviction hearing, set for December 17, will be canceled. "I’m still kind of stunned because I’m thinking is this real?" he asked.

While grateful for the financial help, Blackwell says he doesn't plan to move out of his store anytime soon.

Instead, he wants to continue paying it forward to others who may also be facing eviction. He plans to kick start a fund by raffling items donated to his store.

"I'll reach out to some apartment complexes and say, 'Hey I’ve got these resources from a raffle here. Is anybody facing eviction like I was?' And if they say yeah, we got this person I will bring by a money order and take care of the situation and keep them in their homes," added Blackwell.

“I just wanna help other people out because I believe people now are genuinely good because I’ve seen it firsthand. They saved my home and my business.”