Craig Attebury launched his retail shop, GayMart, in 1994 in Laguna Beach, California, and opened another outlet in Wilton Manors in 1997, just as now-legendary gay bar Georgie's Alibi started getting popular. "The plaza was quite empty back then," he remembers.
In the intervening years, Wilton Manors and the surrounding area grew into a safe, family-friendly gayborhood, with no shortage of businesses with double-entendres such as the Painted Pickle, Humpy's Pizza, Bill's Filling Station, and Dairy Queen.
"We always thought GayMart was a cute name," he says, but it drew discrimination. He sells menswear and clubwear -- much of it itty-bitty and made of spandex -- but "a few suppliers would not ship to us because of the name," Attebury says. "I'd place the order and wait and wait and wait." Eventually, wholesalers would admit: "We don't want to sell to a store like that."
Over the years, he says, he's experienced bigots drive by and yell derogatory comments, and "I still get kids calling on the phone: 'Is your name GayMart? Tee hee hee!' -- but it's a lot less now."
He's opened and sold locations in other gay hot spots, including Los Angeles, Santa Monica, South Beach, Fire Island, and Provincetown, and still owns a shop in Palm Springs, California. Last year, he sold a nightclub, Boom in Wilton Manors -- it's now called Hunters.
With gay marriage set to proceed in Florida on Tuesday, Attebury reflects that "we came a long way in a relatively short amount of time, compared to other civil rights movements."
At the request of New Times, he offered some suggestions for gay wedding gifts from his shop:
3. His-and-his swimsuits:
The Andrew Christian phys ed varsity trunk features "show-it technology" says Atteboro of the $41 swimsuit. Andrew Christian is his hottest-selling brand, and even lesbians are into it. The designs are "right on the gender line," he explains. "Girls wear them a little butcher; guys wear them more feminine."
2. Matching underwear:
"The Andrew Christian retro pop reveal boxer has an open front keyhole feature," Atteboro explains. They're $18 apiece.
1. Gun Oil lube:
For the newlyweds! Bottles start at $5, but you may want to spring for the $30, 32-ounce size for a very happy couple.
The store also sells wedding cards.
GayMart is located at the Shoppes of Wilton Manors, 2240 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors. Call 954-630-0360. There's no online store.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!