An ornament featuring Santa in a speedo or a sparkly new shirt for the new year.

‘Tis the season for giving gifts to the family we choose. Mom may give you a practical pair of socks, but the LGBT community knows what the LGBT community wants. Fortunately they have a plethora of LGBT-owned stores in the greater Wilton Manors area.

There are lots of little, locally owned shops up and down Wilton Drive, and many have clothes and cards you could easily share with straight allies and family. However, some are LGBT through and through, offering gifts that people outside the community would never imagine. This is important not just for creativity and uniqueness, but also because spending dollars in local gay shops lifts the entire neighborhood.

Leatherwerks, at 1226 NE 4th Ave. in Fort Lauderdale, carries custom and handmade leather goods. Co-owner Christian Marcello said supporting LGBT businesses isn’t just good for the community, it can be more fun.

“I think it's becoming even more important to shop local and especially local gay, because the interaction you have is what makes shopping a fun experience. That and, being a gay-owned and run business, we know the needs of gay men. You can't get that from just shopping online.”

A trip inside the store finds lots of seasonal merchandise, including plushies in Christmas hats, December Diamonds that can be hung like ornaments or will stand on their own, Christmas stockings in hankie colors that can be embroidered, or leather Christmas stockings and leather Santa hats.

Upstairs, they have a workshop that rivals Santa’s North Pole facilities.

“We get some very fun requests in the workroom. We have made a red and green 'elf' harness. We also made a full red leather Santa Suit. And sometimes we are asked to make superhero-themed gear for Christmas gifts. We can make just about anything if you have the time and the budget.”

Marcello says they also craft gifts that are perfect for friends that aren’t in the traditional leather community.

“A lot of people don't realize that we sell a lot of family friendly gifts in addition to all the adult toys. We make [yes, make] some of the best belts that will last you a decade because they are solid leather, not laminate that will fail, crack, or peel after one year.”

With nice clothes and naughty cards, Pride Factory announced that they will be relocating to Wilton Manors. This season, the store has been packed with locals who know what they’re looking for and out-of-towners exploring the racks for the first time. Lori Deak, Pride Factory’s vice president, says St33le Limited Edition shorts, sexy Skull & Bones holiday underwear are this year’s big sellers.

Deak believes the success of Pride Factory and other LGBT businesses benefits everyone.

“When others see local businesses doing well, they are encouraged to open other businesses creating growth within the community. This leads to more jobs and revenue circulating within the area.”

Marcello echoes those thoughts, and says building a connection builds community.

“We want to connect with you because there are many products that we carry that people may be trying for the first time. We want you to walk away knowing that we helped you out, not just because of the sale, but because we like our product, and we want you to like them too.”


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