New Gay-Friendly Shop Opens

Equal opens April 1 in South Philly with a slew of queer-friendly goodies

South Philly gets a whole lot gayer when Equal, a new T-shirt and gift shop, opens its doors April 1 with a special reception (5-8 p.m.) at 1516 Snyder Avenue. The openly gay owner J.R. Criswell tells G Philly that he will carry more than 100 ready-made T-shirts with “sassy sayings, kitschy images and licensed characters” for $15.

The shop will also offer custom T-shirt design services ($20) with shirts ready within 24 hours. A wide variety of garments at the shop can be emboldened with on-site transfer, dye-sublimation, embroidery and screen-printing. “Sizes available start at small-enough-to-fit-a-Chihuahua and go up to 5XL,” says Criswell. And custom bulk orders for work, teams, family reunions – even politicians – he says, will be significantly discounted.

If you stop by Equal, also expect to find a mix of novelty gifts and bawdy cards (think Archie McPhee for the queer set). “Shoppers will find onion ring mints, bacon strip bandages, squirrel underpants – why should they be running around naked? – and action figures featuring Benjamin Franklin,” he says. There are also tri-fold naked birthday cards with queer themes, as well as boxed art cards and traditional rainbow items, like flags and six-color candle holders.

“Equal isn’t about being just a gay store of the 1990s with a rainbow in your face,” explains Criswell. “As the name implies, I think some queer items mixed in with unusual and kitschy stuff give a balanced, but ecclectic and fun mix.”

On the corner of Hicks and Snyder, Equal is across from the Melrose Diner, a Philadelphia landmark, and next door to South Philly Tattoo. Criswell says he hopes the shop will attract the booming LGBT population from the neighborhood – especially folks with that impossible person to buy for on the gift list.

Equal, 1516 Snyder Ave, (Monday – Friday: Noon to 6 p.m., Saturdays: Noon to 4 p.m.), 484-350-9872.