Dooney Potter, local artist, could not avert his gaze on a certain chandelier when walking by the Wilton Collective.
Drawn in, he entered the store with his husband a month after they first opened and realized this could be the spot for his artwork.
After inquiring for a spot, Potter had free range to pick a time to set up his work.
“It was easy,” Potter said. “They had the area available really quickly.”
Wilton Collective, a section of non-profit Julian’s Fountain of Youth (JFOY), is a consignment store that employs LGBT youth through a work-study program. The Collective has a home for every type of thing — clothes, art, furniture, plants, bikes, jewelry and more.
Potter described the Wilton Collective as akin to a small world atmosphere.
“A lot of times I meet people there and they're somehow connected to me through other people,” he said. “It's a nice networking situation.”
Mike Trottier, owner of Plant Life Wilton Manors and long-time friend of Julian Cavazos, the man behind Wilton Collective, thought the Collective was “an amazing idea.” Trottier first started as a supporter of the organization; now, he is also a vendor.
“During the pandemic, I kind of fell into the crowd of buying houseplants and learning about them with my sister,” Trottier said. “I just needed a hobby.”
That hobby is now dubbed “Plant Life Wilton Manors,” a small shop of plant arrangements Trottier puts together after buying them wholesale. It is primarily housed in the Wilton Collective.
Trottier believes in the Wilton Collective vision so strongly that he not only pays rent to the building to house his Plant Life business, but also donates part of his sales to JFOY. He said the Collective “warms [his] heart.”
“That's the best part of it for me, is to see a place where these kids can go when they get out of school, and be around other human beings that actually care for them, and know what they're going through and have been there before,” Trottier said.
Trottier mentioned that aside from vendors like Plant Life, Wilton Collective also accepts donations. He describes most of the items sold there as high-quality and high-end.
“It's a thrift store, mostly,” Trottier said. “But it's higher end stuff. It's not junk.”
Trottier credits this to affluent members of the LGBT community in Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale and Oakland Park deciding to donate items from their closet to JFOY.
Wilton Collective focuses on creating a diverse and accepting space. In the back of the building is a permanent vendor — Carvelle Bikes, run by Carvelle Estriplet.
“I heard through a mutual friend that Julian was opening a space where they can have different vendors, different people, and they specifically wanted people of the LGBT,” Estriplet said. “Who better than a black trans woman who loves bikes?”
Estriplet credits Wilton Collective for the growth of her business. Having a spot in Wilton Collective has increased her popularity so much that she is now opening a second location for Carvelle Bikes.
“This is the dream,” Estriplet said. “If you told myself three years ago, I was gonna own a bike shop, I wouldn't believe myself.”
Estriplet calls the experience “exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time” but mentioned that Carvelle Bikes will always have a home in Wilton Collective, even as it expands.
“I think this is a great space not only for, you know, selling my art but also for connecting with people and doing something good for the community,” Potter said.
You can visit Wilton Collective at 2365 Wilton Dr, Wilton Manors, FL 33305.
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