June is Pride month, which makes it the perfect time to learn about and support local, LGBTQ-owned businesses. Philly queer-owned businesses have something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a yoga class, a tasty treat, or your next pet. Read on to learn about five Philly establishments that do business with pride!
1704-06 East Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19148
Located in the heart of South Philadelphia's East Passyunk neighborhood, Illexotics isn’t just a boutique storefront: it’s an experience. From the moment you walk through the doors, you leave South Philly behind and enter a tropical wonderland. Visitors to Illexotics are taken in by the verdant, broad-leafed plants, the neon-colored dart frogs, and the massive, room-sized terrarium. See what owners Christopher and Franco Urban have to say about their unique business:
“Our business philosophy is centered around ethics, environmentalism, and education – where we strive to help people reconnect with nature by bringing life into their home in the form of houseplants and terrariums, or one step further - to a vivarium complete with a captive bred and hand raised reptile or amphibian. We specialize in uncommon tropical flora from aroids to orchids, and captive-bred fauna ranging from chameleons to poison dart frogs and invertebrates. As award-winning biophilic designers (with a recent "Best in Show" from the 2023 Philadelphia Flower Show - Garden Electric), Illexotics storefront is so much more than just a store; the moment you walk through the door, you are transported to an immersive tropical paradise!”
Beyond the Bell Tours
All over Philadelphia!
See Philadelphia through a new set of eyes with Beyond the Bell Tours. This unique tour company, founded by Rebecca (she/her) and Joey (he/they), is a "social enterprise committed to putting the people back in people’s history.” Beyond the Bell Tours is inspired by the untold stories of marginalized communities in Philadelphia. Their tours are designed to amplify the history of women, people of color, indigenous peoples, and queer folks who have made Philadelphia the city we all know and love.
This Pride Month, check out their Philly Gayberhood and LGBTQ History Walking Tour and “get your facts straight and your history GAY.” Or if you’re 21+ looking for something a little more nightlife oriented, check out their Philly Pride Bar Crawl and support local LGBTQ-owned bars while learning more about Philly queer history.
Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room
345 S 12th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Named for the classic queer novel by James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room lives up to its namesake as being influential in the LGBTQ+ community. Giovanni’s Room was founded in 1973, making it the oldest still-operating queer and feminist bookstore in America. Over the last 50 years, it has been a symbol of strength, resilience, and joy for queer Philadelphians and visitors alike. Sometimes called the “center of gay Philadelphia,” Giovanni’s Room is like a visitor center to the Gayborhood, with maps, resources, and staff that are as friendly as they are knowledgeable.
In 2014, longtime owner Ed Hermance announced his retirement and the impending closure of Giovanni’s Room. Philly AIDS Thrift, a non-profit that has raised more than $4 million for The AIDS Fund and other community organizations, quickly stepped in to preserve the historic bookstore. These days, Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room continues to carry a large selection of LGBTQ+ literature, as well as used books, clothes, and knick-knacks. Celebrate Pride this June by visiting this piece of Philly queer history! Stop by to browse the shelves and make sure to check their calendar of events for book talks and book clubs, too!
Interested in getting involved? Learn more about volunteering with Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room on their website.
Cake Life Bake Shop
1306 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125
Located in Fishtown, steps away from Girard Station, Cake Life Bake Shop is a woman and trans-owned award-winning bakery. They pride themselves in using locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible to create fresh, seasonally-inspired baked goods. Owners Lily Fischer and Nima Etemadi are best friends from their days at Sarah Lawrence College who quit their other careers to become pastry chefs. After appearing on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars three times (and winning!), they founded Cake Life Bake Shop in the Globe Dye Works building in 2013 before moving to Cake Life’s current home on Frankford Avenue in 2016. Did we mention they baked Beyonce’s birthday cake? Because it’s happened twice now…
Next time you find yourself in the mood for something sweet, hop on the Market Frankford Line and check out Cake Life Bake Shop! Their most up-to-date menu can be found on their Instagram.
522 Baltimore Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19143
This West Philly yoga studio was founded in 2008, but ownership was transferred to community members Adrienne Dolberry and Kari Thompson in 2018. Studio 34 offers affordable yoga classes, workshops, and art shows for those who seek healing, as well as space for wellness practitioners to provide various forms of therapy, from acupuncture, to massage, to psychotherapy, and more. Studio 34 believes that individual self-care directly sustains and supports our community and, by reconnecting and reclaiming our lives as individuals, we are uplifting and supporting our communities.
Check out Studio 34’s robust class schedule, with classes like Saturday afternoon Queer and Trans Yoga and Sunday evening People of Color (PoC) Yoga.
Celebrate Pride Month with the Free Library!