This Tel Avivian second-hand shop has an innovative business model to create social change

“Seeing those kids run up to the donated items for the very first time,” exclaims Ani Shlishi's founder ,David Baskin, as his face lights up, “is why we wake up every day: to chase that feeling.”

Baskin, along with Ilan Kedar, are two former lone soldiers who cofounded Ani Shlishi, a nonprofit which helps at-risk Israelis through selling and donating second hand goods. After starting with one-off donations and pop-up sales, they opened their first brick-and-mortar location three months ago, which Baskin claims is “the physical manifestation of that initial feeling of giving back.” With hip hats and broken-in jeans lining its shelves, it may seem like any other second-hand vintage shop, but Ani Shlishi reallocates its profits to directly help those in need.

Ani Shlishi FB Page

The inspiration for Ani Shlishi came from two events in Baskin’s life. After being released from the IDF, he witnessed other lone soldiers casually discarding perfectly good items, which he decided to gather and donate; soon after, more and more used goods started coming his way. Simultaneously, his former baseball coach and mentor, Ross Freeland, fell ill and passed away. Flying to his funeral, Baskin saw overlap between Ross’ small actions making a wide impact on his community and the donations he had started making back home. “In many ways, Ross was very unassuming,” Baskin says, “He was shy, maybe said five words in his life. Yet thousands attended his funeral, showing me that ordinary people can have extraordinary influence.” He adds, “day-after-day at 6 a.m. batting practice, Ross would silently pitch balls until the bucket was empty. Sure, he was just throwing a ball, like we’re just donating clothes. But like throwing baseballs affected me, hundreds of other kids and an entire community, every single item is donated, purchased, and helps ours.” When Baskin arrived back in Israel, he and Kedar decided to create an organization based on these reflections, and to name it after Ross’ philosophy called ‘I’m Third,’ or ‘Ani Shlishi.’ “First comes the greater good, the welfare of others is second, and I’m third.”

© Irena Machov

Baskin and Kedar formed Ani Shlishi’s “2nd Hand for 2nd Chance” initiative using the organization’s profits to provide educational opportunities for at-risk youth. “Everyone has dreams, even kids in really difficult situations do,” Baskin says, “but the world doesn’t create circumstances for them to actualize them. Like Ross made it possible for me to pursue mine, our initiative, this store, the community of donors and shoppers, is what allows for a chain of actions to make it happen.” The initiative’s first recipient, choosing to go to a dance course, blew them away. “He told us ‘I can actually be someone now!’” Kedar says, “We realized that no one had let him feel that before. It blows our minds how our little org can allow people to reach towards something.”

The initiative’s next step is to put the at-risk youth to work at the Ani Shlishi storefront. “Work here will give these kids a foundation of marketable skills necessary for success and self-advancement,” Baskin says, “and the funds produced during their time working will go towards the vocational course of their choice, whether they want to be a mechanic, lifeguard, paramedic, programmer – whatever.” Kedar chimes in: “Like every single item in our store was cast away and is now finding its rightful home, these at-risk kids are the same: the mainstream systems aren’t for them, they need something a little unique and we try and help them find their home. For customers, the reward is also two-fold. “From the moment they walk in and see the “Kanita, Taramta” sign (“If you purchased, you donated”), they understand there’s something unique here,” Kedar says. “People want daily meaning, even in a small way.” Ross’ modest actions are creating big ripples.
Ani Shlishi, 84 Allenby St, Tel Aviv
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