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Shimmy down the coast to check out these LGBT-owned businesses in Southern California. Guess what? These boutiques, bookstores, cafes and more don’t only exist in the month of June – in fact, you can and should support these businesses all year.
Businesses owned by marginalized communities often struggle to stay afloat, and LGBT-owned businesses tend to draw in less customers if the target consumers are among the queer community. Whether you’re a part of the community or an ally, these business owners need your support, especially after a grueling 2020. Put on your sunglasses, bring your friends and choose from this list of LGBT-owned businesses in Southern California.
Bluestocking Books – San Diego
An independent bookstore in Hillcrest? Definitely gay. Bluestocking Books has provided a community for lesbian bibliophiles for over two decades. Head over here for the romantic creaky floors and a chance to fall in love with a mysterious girl in the poetry section.
Upon their 15th anniversary, Bluestocking shared some memories from their longtime fans, including one customer, Mija, who said “May you be here in another 15 years. You’ve held my hand through my 20s and 30s, through sobriety, losing my parents, getting through college and living life authentically. I’ll look forward to buying my senior reading materials in my 50s.” Now that’s a business we can get behind.
Lockwood51 – Los Angeles
Like any respectable LGBT-owned clothing brand, Lockwood51 offers gender neutral clothing with sick logos. They aim to empower queer youth to own their identities through fashion. Shop anything from tees and hoodies to multicolored jockstraps and swimwear.
Candle Delirium – Los Angeles
Waltz into this airy industrial space that happens to be the largest home fragrance store in the world. At Candle Delirium, you’ll find a behemoth selection of products like luxe candles, bath and body supplies and diffusers. If you want your space to smell like cottagecore lesbians are baking bread or a night spent camping under the stars, you’re bound to find a candle that is just right.
Bon Vivant Market & Cafe – Los Angeles
This sweet little cafe offers brunch, lunch and dinner complete with lavish cheese and charcuterie. Its spacious interior glows when the lights catch rich colors from the wood ceiling and walls. Stuffed with comfy couches and chairs, Bon Vivant is the perfect spot for anything from book clubs and business meetings to first dates and nights out on the town.
Visit in the morning for their Mushroom, Spinach & Goat Cheese Crepe with Fresh Herbs & Olive Oil (US$12) or stay for dinner favorites like the Rockin’ Mac N Cheese with extra creamy aged cheddar and fontina (US$12). Make sure to stop by during Live Music Weekend. Owned by Tricia LaBelle and her French partner Kelly, Bon Vivant opened in July of 2012. They decked out the area with signature Parisian décor, but they kept a splash of California cool.
Cuties – Los Angeles
Sadly, this coffee shop closed in August of 2020. It cemented itself as a staple for Angelina gays, and the city will dearly miss its open doors. With an interior inspired by Art Deco of the 1920s and the 1970s, Cuties Coffee Bar resurrected two decades when American queer life was in full bloom.
The coffee shop’s co-founders, Virginia Bauman and Iris Bainum-Houle, created a queer space with coffee and community at its core. Coffee has long held a special place in the queer community. Cuties was one of the only small businesses that chose to label itself as a LGBT space. While you may run into a quaint coffee shop and never guess the owners identify as gay, Cuties made a point of catering to the queer community.
Despite having announced that they have no plans to reopen the coffee shop, they are still working to create a safe queer community space through different means, both virtually and in person. You can continue to support their efforts through their Patreon page or check out their Linktree for upcoming events and news.
Wildfang – Los Angeles
“Wear you, not someone else,” Wildfang’s tagline reads. What began as a studio apartment in Portland, OR morphed into a clothing line based in the jewel of the Pacific Northwest and the City of Angels. The founders grew tired of women’s fashion with fake or practically nonexistent pockets, button ups with boob gaps and gender norms. They re-imagined women’s fashion to create a gender fluid clothing line that focuses on style and comfort, not gender roles.
Since their launch, they’ve donated more than US$500K to organizations like ACLU, Planned Parenthood, New Avenues for Youth, Tegan & Sara Foundation, RAICES, Girls Inc, Q Center, iamthatgirl, and they have a goal to donate at least US$150K this year alone. So you can update your wardrobe with the added benefit of knowing your purchase is supporting causes in the queer community.
Wide Eyes Open Palms – Long Beach
This coffee shop burrowed in the Arts District of Long Beach has a queer feminist vibe. Owners Kat McIver and Angie Evans dreamed of Wide Eyes Open Palms long before they opened its doors. After years of working in the service industry among male-dominated kitchens devoid of queer representation or support, McIver and Evans realized thier dreams. With McIver as the chef and Evans as the barista, they created a queer space ideal for ordering an iced matcha latte with honey and a seasonal scone.
Industrial Grind Coffee – San Diego
Long-time couple Kathy Hansen and Barbara Jeanine opened the first Industrial Grind on Park Avenue in 2011. Since then, they have woven themselves into the community and opened various other locations around San Diego.
They roast their own coffee, and their black logo recalls the Industrial Revolution and lends the space a timeless aesthetic. You can also purchase premade mixes of some of their favorite baked goods, like the Gluten Free Coconut Lime or Peanut Butter Cookie Mixes (US$9) online.
Cann – Venice
Wildly popular sparkling beverage brand Cann operates out of Venice. Founders Luke Anderson and Jake Bullock created these low-calorie, low-dose, THC-infused social tonics with flavors including lemon lavender, pineapple jalapeño, blood orange cardamom, grapefruit rosemary and ginger lemon grass.
Co-founder Anderson explained to Forbes that Cann “is uniquely designed to be approachable even for someone who has never previously considered cannabis as a part of their social lives – and appealing to that consumer is what it takes for a product to break the ‘stoner’ stigma and cross over into the mainstream.”
Noto Botanics – Los Angeles
Gloria Noto’s beauty brand Noto Botanics caters to queer communities and thier bodies. “Launching Noto quite literally in my kitchen, I became excited to use all of the skills I learned over the years to create a line that celebrated the identities I felt I wasn’t seeing in the clean beauty industry at the time,” says Noto. “Queer bodies, nonbinary bodies, trans bodies, and more BI-POC bodies. I wanted to hear their stories and celebrate their lives.” Check out the Essentials Kit, which includes a serum, a resurface scrub, a body wash and a tote bag.
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