There’s really no debate anymore, but it’s always worth a mention. If you shop local, the community effect is nothing but positively positive.
- Holiday dollars spent at independent South Florida stores help support local residents with local jobs.
- Owners and employees of local businesses are much more likely to aid nonprofits and charities that benefit the community.
- Recirculation of revenue is significant. Spend at a big box retailer and about 14 percent is put back into the local economy. Spend at a locally owned spot and it’s about 52 percent.
Here are three local and gay-owned, friendly, themed (you get the idea) businesses to consider this holiday season.
To The Moon Marketplace
2205 Wilton Drive
To The Moon owner Antonio Dumas is nothing if not authentic. He quickly touts the level of customer service at his store, but with a bit of an “authentic” caveat.
“We treat people the way we want to be treated,” he said. “But if you have an attitude or don’t say ‘thank you’ or don’t say ‘please,’ then don’t expect me to either. It’s the New York in me,” he said.
The personal authenticity is evident in the items he acquires for the store shelves.
Expect to be transported to one of 95 countries that are represented among the products. You’ll likely be wrapped up in warm childhood feelings from Christmases past during your visit as well.
“We have probably the largest glass assortment of Christmas ornaments from all over the world,” Dumas said.
Indeed the entire ceiling is covered in the unique orbs. Prices range from $5 to $40.
To The Moon has just as impressive collection of holiday greeting cards. Most are made in the U.S., and there are some from Canada and Finland.
But Dumas is particularly proud of what he calls his “edible holiday section.”
“We have all the old fashioned good stuff,” he said. “Mostly German, British and American.”
Think ribbon candy, hard Christmas mix, Stollen fruitcakes and mixes and a bunch of ginger flavored edibles. There’s lots of chocolate liqueur candy from Europe, too.
Dumas said these are hard to find “no one sells them anymore” kinds of items.
“One of the best sellers is always the Christmas Stollen,” Dumas said. “It’s hard to find traditional fruitcake … we have butter, marzipan, rum … people always come to get those.”
The price is right for the Stollen’s, too. You’ll pay between $4.99 and $9.99 to satisfy those holiday taste buds.
Dumas has been in his current space for 14 years and has been in the business for 23.
850 NE 15thStreet
Seemingly a world away from To The Moon (it’s only 1.5 miles) is the Pride Factory — more than 8,000 square feet of swimwear, underwear and other fashion accessories for men.
Lori Deak has been the vice president and buyer for the store the past 18 years. It doesn’t take her much effort to differentiate the Pride Factory experience from the big box one.
“At Pride Factory you will receive assistance selecting your merchandise from our friendly and knowledgeable staff,” she said. “You don't get that personal attention when you shop online and most big box stores are understaffed, especially during the holidays.”
And unlike the online experience, she said, you can do that thing that’s become a lost art — try on your potential purchases before you buy them, thus ensuring they fit before you get home.
Deak said Pride Factory’s bags are a big seller both this season and traditionally. The bags range in price from as little as $10 to $100, depending on the size and the fabric.
But the clothing is a favorite for most shoppers, she said. That includes tanks, t-shirts, short and jeans. A number of lines are exclusive to Pride Factory.
There are in store (and online) sales that are run throughout the year, according to Deak. But for the holiday season, she’s added additional items like colognes, holiday cards and an expanded selection of the one of a kind December Diamonds ornament selection.
Where else can you get a “Merman,” “Plumbers Crack,” or “Who’s Your Daddy?” for the tree?
Studio 205 and Java Juice Bar
205 North Federal Highway
This unique, gay-owned business recently moved from their decades old location to another Lake Worth spot. And now you’ve got expanded drink and food options to boot.
Studio 205 and Java Juice Bar owner Andy Amoroso has upgraded. After some disputes around rent increases at the previous site, he said his new spot is bigger and better.
“I’m back in the building where I started 24 years ago,” said Amoroso, who is also the vice mayor of Lake Worth, and was Palm Beach County’s first openly gay city commissioner.
But let’s talk about bags and purses. That’s still what customers come for at his store. “And the rainbow stuff, too,” he added.
Studio 205 has backpacks, jewelry, metaphysical gifts, stocking stuffers and a small vintage section.
Prices range from “mild to wild,” according to Amoroso.
He’s got “all the gay and lesbian stuff” ready to go — cards, novelties, Peppermint Peckers and a Grow a Girlfriend, Grow a Boyfriend section, as well as a line of clothing.
You’ll work up a thirst and hunger from all the activity, and now you can purchase drinks, coffee and light breakfast items, with a selection of vegan choices too.
The last location had a walk-up juice bar — this one has indoor and outdoor seating.
“We’re always running specials and deals in the juice bar and shop,” Amoroso said.
He’s got a straightforward reason why South Florida residents should spend their money locally.
“Because the trend is you’re losing your small town shops and small town feel,” he said. “If you always have to get in the car and go to the mall, you lose walkability and sustainability,” he said.
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