Here are SFGN's "Best of 2018" winners in the Shopping category in Broward County.
Best Adult Store/Best Clothing Store
850 NE 13 St.
This year marks the fifth year that the Pride Factory has won in the Best Adult Store category. This year though, Pride Factory also won in the Best Clothing Store category for the first time.
According to Lori Deak, the Vice-President, the store has been open for 22 years. She described the store as a “men's boutique offering swimwear, underwear and fashion apparel, while continuing to offer community staples like lubricants, novelties, cards, and Pride items.” Deak stressed that many of the items in this store cannot be found anywhere else.
Besides clothing, the Pride Factory sells adult items. Few stores exist where you could find swimwear, sex toys, and same-sex wedding cake figurines all in the same location.
Deak emphasized that the Pride Factory tries “to provide merchandise in varying price ranges so everyone can find what they need.”
Best Art Gallery
Stonewall National Museum & Archives
2157 Wilton Drive
For the second year in a row, SFGN readers chose the Stonewall National Museum & Archives to be the Best Museum and the Best Art Gallery in Broward County.
Though Stonewall’s status as a museum was never questioned, some of us wondered how it earned the title of Best Art Gallery, especially since Wilton Drive has so many of them.
Stonewall’s Executive Director, Chris Rudisill, though has no doubt: “The Museum believes artists tell a unique story through their art, and many of our exhibitions feature contemporary artists who are documenting LGBTQ lives, their personal experiences, and history through a variety of medium. While we don’t sell artwork through the Museum, we celebrate artists through our Mona Pittenger Gallery and thank the community for recognizing us as a cultural destination.”
Meanwhile, Stonewall continues to fulfil its goal of promoting “understanding through preserving and sharing the proud culture of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their significant role in American society.” We need this now more than ever.
According to Rudisill, “our history is threatened everyday as people try to erase our accomplishments and attack our right to equality, but for forty-five years Stonewall National Museum & Archives has been protecting the stories of LGBTQ people and the many accomplishments that have shaped the fabric of our country. From activism to arts and culture, our contributions are significant and our personal stories cannot be erased. As an organization, we have come a long way over the years, but as we look to the future we examine this importance and look to build our reach nationally creating a strong sense of LGBTQ history in communities near and far.”
Stonewall just closed a widely-acclaimed exhibit about the “Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945” and just opened one about “Nightbirds: Photos of NYC’s Dynamic Club Culture & Personalities 1986-1995.”
Future exhibits include “Sisters of the Commonwealth;” “50 Years – The Stonewall Uprising;” and “PULP: Gay Male Pulp Fiction at Midcentury.” In addition, “we’re working with partners around the country to share our collection in other museums and community spaces.”
Open Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Best Thrift Store
Out of the Closet
2097 Wilton Drive
1785 E. Sunrise Blvd.
For the fourth time in as many years, Out of the Closet was voted by SFGN readers as the best thrift store in Broward County. Out of the Closet stores are operated by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) (AIDShealth.org), a global nonprofit organization that provides cutting-edge medicine and advocacy and is the largest provider of HIV/AIDS medical care in the United States.
According to the website, “96% of every dollar collected by our stores directly fund AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s HIV/AIDS programs and services in the U.S. and abroad, providing cutting-edge HIV medical care, regardless of a person’s ability to pay.”
In addition to merchandise for sale, each store includes a pharmacy and provides free access to confidential HIV testing.
Though Out of the Closets stores provide much-needed services to people living with HIV/AIDS, the stores’ general appeal is largely due to their wide selection and friendly staff. They do not resemble dirty warehouses, like some other thrift stores.
Rather, they are clean, clear, attractive shops that encourage the shopper to come back again and again. I visited the Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors stores during the Halloween season, at which time the stores were decked out in Halloween decorations.
In addition to its decor, each store offered for sale a wide selection of Halloween costumes, decorations and objects that would give Spirit pause. The clothes, appliances, furniture and decorations the stores offer for sale are not throwaway trash but items that a shopper would be proud to wear, use or exhibit.