In December, Midtown's gay variety store Brushstrokes celebrated its 23rd anniversary.
This month, the Midtown GLBT (gay lesbian bisexual transgender) retail store at 1510 Piedmont Avenue announced that it is expanding.
Its adult store, Brushstrokes Pleasures, will take over contiguous space formerly occupied by the King and I Thai restaurant in the Ansley Square shopping mall in March. The King and I Thai has two units and will be vacating the unit that Brushstrokes Pleasures will expand into while the restaurant will continue operating in its original space.
The store began in a tiny Highland Avenue hallway space 1989 with greeting cards, T-shirts and a tanning bed. With the recent addition, the combined stores will total 7,000 square feet of retail space.
“We’re very excited to add 500 square feet to our Pleasures shop and will implement a new layout with new product in the expanded space,” said Brushstrokes co-owner Mark Jackson in a release.
The store’s slogan is “Everyone. Equal. Every Day” and it buys merchandise from GLBT-owned companies whenever possible. The third-largest gay-owned and -operated retail business in the U.S., stocks more than 40,000 items including T-shirts, underwear, greeting cards, dance music, DVDs and gifts in two Atlanta stores.
Brushstrokes Pleasures has a large web-based delivery-by-post site.
The expansion news comes as more than 3,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights activists from throughout the country are set to converge in Atlanta for the National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change.
The conference begins Wednesday and runs through Sunday in downtown at the Hilton Atlanta. Convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, it is the country's largest gathering of LGBT rights advocates who will be strategizing and organizing for the critical year ahead in the areas of politics, marriage equality, faith, family, business and more.
Some conference highlights from event organizers:
Jan. 25: The annual "State of the LGBT Movement" address by National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey, in which she presents a vision for the year ahead in the struggle for LGBT equality. This is the most highly anticipated speech of the year for the LGBT community in America, and we hope you will consider covering it, as well as other aspects of the conference.
Jan. 26: Immigration is a hot issue, and President Obama has said immigration reform will be a priority in his second term. José Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and openly gay immigration activist, will headline a plenary session on immigration issues where he engages a panel of LGBT DREAM Act organizers.
Jan. 23-24: Pre-conference institutes include, for the first time, a Latino Institute and a Human Rights Institute. Other institutes will focus on the critical role of faith in the LGBT rights movement, racial justice, transgender rights, LGBT elders, youth, funding and more.
Jan. 24: Center for Community Change Executive Director Deepak Bhargava gives the opening keynote. The Center for Community Change builds the power and capacity of low-income people, especially low-income people of color, to have a significant impact in improving their communities and the policies and institutions that affect their lives.
Jan. 27: Songbird Frenchie Davis, a Grammy-nominated artist who competed on American Idol and The Voice, will perform at the closing plenary.
The conference features hundreds of skills-building workshops, more than 15 additional day-long institutes, receptions, networking sessions, interfaith services and more. More info here and a link to the full program book is here.