Guest Post by Amy Johnson!!!

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Boutique: Exposure a.l.p.h.a Interchange                                                   Exposes the FUN in FUNKY!

Don’t you love when you find that one-of-a-kind vintage dress or that previously unappreciated painting that shows everyone how eclectic you are? You want exposure; you want to show the world your new treasure!

We all want to be recognized as the wonderfully unique individuals that we are. Allies Linked for the Prevention of HIV and AIDS (ALPHA) has just opened their new gently repurposed boutique in downtown Boise on 10th St. This is where you will find those signature treasures that no one but you will own and everyone but you will wish they had found!

While the mission of ALPHA is a serious one, they know how to have fun. This is often the case of people who deal with a serious subject on a daily basis. Wednesday night, July 6 was no exception.

It was obvious that a lot of fun & creative energy went into the planning of this event! The front window had three improvisational models wearing fashions from the store, and posing with various odd objects. Passers-by glanced in with curious amusement. If that wasn’t enough to bring them in, then the upbeat bluesy live music played by Daniel Kerr did!

Unfortunately, this party was the VIP pre-shopping fundraiser and you had to have a ticket to participate. The VIP party people got a chance to be the first to discover fun, new/old or old/new fashions and home décor, dine on hors d’ oeuvres, and drink beer and wine from Moon River Distributing, who fittingly offers harder-to-find boutique wines.

Mark Dale, who has helped fill the store with its upscale, gently re-purposed items, enthusiastically described the plans for the store. They will be taking consignment pieces on a case-by-case basis and they hope to offer retail space for clothing, jewelry, and perfume designers. The front window will feature local artists and will change monthly.

This non-profit store will provide a much needed additional income for ALPHA. Craig Chapelle, who has been dubbed “The Wrangler” and used to be the fundraising director, said that this store will allow them to depend less on fundraising so they can direct more attention to what they are passionate about: the people. In fact, that was the common denominator for everyone at the event. Socially connected and compassionate, the ALPHA employees, volunteers, and friends agree that it’s a family.

Duane Quintana opened ALPHA to provide a service that was largely under-appreciated in the state of Idaho. They do free HIV testing, community education, and they offer counseling and support to Idahoans who have been diagnosed with the disease. They have just been approved by PCC to include testing for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia. They even have a food bank with pre-approved healthy choices for people who are too sick to work.

Though the event was light-hearted and filled with laughter, the cause was never far away. Some of the most ardent volunteers are HIV+ themselves. During the festivities, one young man came in for testing, not realizing that the offices had moved around the corner.

ALPHA is not only a fun place to shop, but also a conscientious way help to support a desperately-needed service in our community. The grand opening is August 4th, First Thursday in August, but they are open now for shopping and donations! Look for ALPHA between our favorite salon, Roots, and Café Bellissima at 213 N 10th St., Boise. Call (208) 424-8518 for more info, and be sure to follow Exposure a.l.p.h.a. Interchange on Facebook at  http://www.facebook.com/alphaidaho !!!

Amy Johnson is currently a senior in Communication/Public Relations at Boise State University. She is a wife, mother, self-professed lover of the written word. Her awesome blog is http://amyjohnsonmyers.blogspot.com.  Also, be sure to  follow her on Twitter for creative musings and brilliant wit!