Here are SFGN's "Best of 2016" winners in the shopping category in Broward County.
Best Adult Store
850 NE 13th St.
Kevin Clevenger usually shops at the Pride Factory two or three times a month.
He shops for a little bit of everything – underwear, pants, shirts. “Seeing as I’m a bear, I like that they have bear things. The shirts there are usually trending shirts. They’re pretty current with the trends.”
But it’s not just the stylish clothing lines that keep him coming back.
“I love the staff there. They’re always so friendly. There’s no attitude. They’ll always find what you need and they’ll help you find just what you’re looking for.”
Open for 20 years in multiple locations, the Pride Factory has always been Wilton Manors adjacent, but close enough in location and selection to be popular with LGBT customers.
And it’s made them a three-time winner of Best Adult Store.
In addition to clothing, Pride Factory sells swimwear, health and beauty products, sunglasses, hats, birthday cards, condoms, lubricant and adult toys. “The gay community has grown and we’re growing with it with nice products, unique fashions,” said Pride Factory owner Matthew Deak.
Pride Factory manager Rocky Bowell compared the store to Macy’s because it has a little bit of everything. “I’m just thankful to the community for the support. This is a destination store.”
Best Clothing Store
2314 East Sunrise Blvd.
Macy’s is so much more than a department store. Macy’s is an American shopping tradition.
These days, Macy’s also stands for inclusion by celebrating diversity including LGBT pride. Macy’s is one of HRC's National Corporate Partners and has consistently rated highly on the HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, the national standard in evaluating policies, practices and diversity efforts relating to LGBT workers. The Index considers non-discrimination policies, benefits, diversity training and other internal resources for LGBT workers, as well as external support for LGBT consumers and job seekers.
In South Florida, the stores with the best merchandise include the Galleria, Aventura and Boca Town Center. During its big ‘One Day Sales,’ you can find huge discounts on a wide range of products like clothes, shoes, housewares and jewelry.
Looking to shop with purpose? If you want to put your money where your cause is, check out the Love Bravery line by sir Elton John and Lady Gaga. Its items are for sale exclusively at Macy’s. 25% of your purchase will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Born This Way Foundation.
Best Gift Shop
To The Moon
2205 Wilton Drive
When Brian Kirk wants nostalgia, To The Moon is where he goes. “Nostalgia in a good way. Not nostalgia in a bad way,” he joked.
Along with the huge selection of candy, gum, chocolate and other sweets, there’s also a huge collection of gifts. And more than a few will give you a good laugh. There are flasks, coasters, playing cards, birthday cards, superhero-themed items, sex-themed items (gay and straight), clothing items, magazines, breath freshener, mugs, aprons, and Pez dispensers, just to name a few.
“They have an incredible selection of stuff.” But Kirk is partial to the edible offerings. In particular, he likes Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream. “They have a lot of unusual ice cream. But it’s the best ice cream I’ve ever had.”
And if owner Antonio Dumas doesn’t like it, odds are it won’t make it onto one of his shelves.
“Well, first I go on taste. If it’s something I want to eat and then, of course, the price. It has to be affordable.” It’s also something he’s learned how to do after 23 years of experience. “It’s just something you know.” And, with a store already crammed full of a “vast variety” of items, including over 2,000 greeting cards, it’s something Dumas must be very picky about.
Best Thrift Store
Out of the Closet
Out of the Closet is a thrift store and so much more. Sure, you can find clothing, jewelry, handbags, books, electronics, furniture and housewares. You can find great deals on just about everything. The profits go to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). Out of the Closet even provides a free pick up service for items that are too large for donors to bring to a store location.
Out of the Closet also provides South Florida access to free, private, and friendly HIV and STD testing; and prescriptions filled in an AHF Pharmacy where the money goes back to AHF.
In addition to learning their HIV status, people who get tested at AHF locations will also have immediate access to on-site counselors who provide emotional support and treatment information for anyone who tests positive.
Out of the Closet South Florida locations:
Fort Lauderdale Out of the Closet
1785 E. Sunrise Blvd
Wilton Manors Out of the Closet
2097 Wilton Drive
Miami Out of the Closet
2900 Biscayne Blvd
Best Smoke Shop
4800 N. Dixie Highway
PeacePipeUSA.com (currently offline)
@PeacePipeFL on Facebook and Twitter
At a time where vape shops and e-cigs seem to be an overwhelming trend, Peace Pipe has been the go to neighborhood headshop here in Fort Lauderdale for more than 30 years. The small, family-run smoke shop was named Best Head Shop by the readers of Broward Palm Beach New Times in 2013 (http://bit.ly/2e83n4k), and even sparked up the new category of Best Smoke Shop among SFGN’s readers.
Vicki Hagendorf, publisher of Broward Lifestyles Magazine has been a long-time customer. “I have been going to the Peace Pipe for over 30 years and just love the place! The staff is always helpful and very nice. I knew it when Matt's father, Jerry, was at the helm. They have been through many tribulations but are now coming out on the top. KUDOS,” Hagendorf wrote on Yelp.
While some smoke shops have been put out of business due to restrictive new sales laws, Peace Pipe has opened a second Fort Lauderdale location, Peace Pipe 2 at 821 N. Federal Highway, and they encourage you to “Stop by and say High.”
Best Grocery Store
People have to eat and going to the grocery store is part of a daily routine for many.
This year, SFGN asked its readers to vote for their favorite grocery store. Publix won this new category by a wide margin, defeating other nominees like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Fresh Market.
“Publix is honored to receive the distinction of ‘Best Grocery Store’ by South Florida Gay News readers,” said Nicole Krauss, Media and Community Relations Manager – Miami Division. “On behalf of our 185,000 associates, we sincerely appreciate the nomination and look forward to continuing our legacy of providing premiere customer service.”
Publix was born on Sept. 6, 1930 when George Jenkins opened what was then called Publix Food Store in Winter Haven, Florida. Jenkins opened his first Publix Super Market in 1940 with newspaper reports praising the “food palace” for its marble, glass and stucco design, soothing air conditioning, fancy fluorescent lighting, electric eye doors and terrazzo floors.
Today, the Publix brand has flourished throughout the southeast to 1,077 supermarkets. In 2015, sales surpassed $28 billion and employees seem pleased: Fortune ranked Publix 87th on its annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.
While Publix has many locations throughout South Florida we imagine the store won because of its location in Wilton Manors at Five Points, which is especially popular with the gays. And it’s a hot spot any time of day to “gay watch.”