Paint Your Black Friday with Rainbow

A local queer shopping guide for your holiday needs

The holidays are approaching faster than a ‘Burgh Bear to a buffet. With it, the stresses of seasonal shopping are upon us. If you have a lot of names on your Christmas list, consider buying from local, LGBTQ-owned-and-operated businesses. Put some rainbow on your Black Friday and go big on Small Business Saturday.

Need a unique and unusual gift? The Pittsburgh LGBTQ community has got you covered, figuratively and literally. You can find vintage apparel at EONS Fashion Antique (owned and operated by Pittsburgh Famous Richard Parsakian), 5850 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside.

Photo courtesy of Eons Fashion Antique

Parsakian said, “Come to Eons Fashion Antique for your holiday gifts where your friends can explore their true Gender Identity. We are celebrating 35 years as a queer-owned business who have continually supported the LGBTQIA+ community.”

He added, “Eons is a safe space where we welcome you to be true to your inner self and where fashion can be Non-binary, Gender non-conforming, Genderqueer, & Gender-fluid.”

Film, theatre, and TV productions have recognized the store as a costume resource. Billy Porter, Sharon Needles, Debra Messing, Jodie Foster, Helen Mirren and others run to Eons Fashion Antique when they are in Pittsburgh.

Parsakian said, “Find fabulous jewels to accessorize your holiday looks with colorful silk scarves. Holiday party attire awaits to celebrate the seasons.”

Photo courtesy of Kween tees
Photo courtesy of Kween Tees

You can express your style in a more casual way and pick up some t-shirts at Kween Tees, sharp, colorful clothes with pithy sayings on them like, “I’m a Froot Loop in a sea of Cheerios,” or “Save water, drink whiskey.”

There are many great grooming and hair care products at 412 Apothecary, located at 424 Suisman Street on the North Side. Apotheke handmade bar soaps in light fragrances, or Voluspa candles, like the Moso Bamboo candle with aromatic notes of Moso Bamboo, Black Musk and Japanese Cypress, make great gifts. Apothecary 412 also carries room sprays, aromatherapy and stress-relieving essentials, shower steamers, and bath bombs.

Photo courtesy of 412 Apothecary
Photo courtesy of 412 Apothecary
Photo courtesy of 412 Apothecary

Christopher Langlois, a licensed cosmetologist who trained in Paris, owns and operates the apothecary. Ask him to recommend hair care products and specialty skin care products to treat psoriasis, eczema and more.  

Photo courtesy of Square Cafe
Photo courtesy of Square Cafe

Host a Christmas gathering, Hanukkah brunch (Hanukkah is from sunset November 28 – to nightfall December 6 this year), or office party at Square Café. Popular breakfast items include the Chunky Monkey pancakes, chocolate buttermilk pancakes with chocolate chips, bananas and shredded coconut cooked inside and topped with butter, powdered sugar and whipped cream, or the Italian Vegan Scramble, with plant-based Italian sausage, sauteed garlic, shallot, spinach and tomato topped with plant-based cheddar. After seventeen years in Regent Square, the Square Café is now located at 134 S. Highland Avenue in East Liberty. You can bring the party to you or treat someone to a meal, because they cater and offer gift cards.

Photo courtesy of Pigeon Bagels

If you’re attending a holiday party, you can pick up a dozen bagels Pigeon Bagels, 5613 Hobart Street, Squirrel Hill. Gab Taube is serving up delicious, certified Kosher bagels with a variety of schmears (try the traditional cream cheese or branch out and try the jalapeno tofu spread). Go early. They are open Wednesday to Sunday from 7:30 a.m, to 2:30 p.m. (but will close early if they sell out).

Photo courtesy of Kards Unlimited
Photo courtesy of Kards Unlimited

There are all kinds of crazy, fun gifts at Kards Unlimited at 5522 Walnut Street in Shadyside. If your out-of-town friends and family members haven’t learned the local lingo, get them the Pittsburghese Pint Glass. It’s loaded with pithy Pittsburgh sayings such as Jag off, redd up and the Pixburgh Stillers. There are Pittsburgh city skyline refrigerator magnets, key chains, shot glasses and snow globes. Pick up a popular cookbook, “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” for the chef in your family. You can be the world’s greatest guncle by picking up a copy of “The Magical Adventures of Phoebe and her Unicorn,” the story of Phoebe Howell and her unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils.

Treat yourself and your partner to a romantic getaway, reunite with distant relatives, or just send a family member away! Classic Travel and Tours offers gift certificates. Rick Sicilio offers discount trips on RSVP, Atlantis and Olivia cruises.

Sicilio said, “Puerto Rico, Curacao, and the Caribbean are all LGBTQ friendly. I have trips to Prague, London and/or Berlin. I can match or beat any price you find online.”

Photo courtesy of Classic Travel and Tours

Sicilio cites the convenience of booking through a travel agent. During the height of the pandemic, he oversaw the complex logistics of moving flights around, dealing with vouchers and refunds, and alleviating the burden from weary and worried passengers.

He added, “World Pride is in Sydney, Australia in 2023 (February 17 – March 50), and it’s a good time to plan that trip.”

Photo courtesy of Knotzland
Photo courtesy of Knotzland

Speaking of parties, you can gear up for a special trip, or get snazzy with a bowtie for New Year’s Eve at Knotzland, 303 S. Trenton Avenue, Wilkinsburg. Nisha Blackwell creates one-of-a-kind bowties made from reused, discarded fabrics diverted from becoming textile waste.

Put those Christmas cookies down and Vibe Ride into the New Year at Elevate Fusion Fitness, located at 2006 Smallman Street in the Strip District. Elevate Fusion Fitness AKA Club Elevate Fitness (AKA Club Elly) offers Versaclimber, boxing and cycling group classes set to high-energy playlists and led by charismatic, motivational instructors.

Photo courtesy of Elevate Fusion Fitness

You can make the holidays merry and gay with these businesses and many more listings in QBurgh’s directory here.

Michael Buzzelli is a stand-up comedian and sit-down author. As a comedian, he has performed all around the country, most notably, the Ice House, the Comedy Store and the Improv in Los Angeles. As a writer, Michael Buzzelli has been published in a variety of websites, magazines and newspapers. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant,’ Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine. He is also a Moth Grand Slam storyteller and actor. His books, "Below Average Genius," a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column in the Observer-Reporter, and his romantic comedy,  “All I Want for Christmas," are on sale at Amazon.com. He is working on a LGBTQ romantic comedy called, “Why I Hate My Friends.” You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. (He / Him / His)