This year marks a milestone for Brushstrokes, the Atlanta gay variety store that has become the city’s go-to source for Pride items, gifts and many other products.

“Mark Jackson opened the first Atlanta location on Dec. 1, 1989. So this year will be our 21st anniversary,” says Tom Schloeder, who met Jackson in 1992 and has been running the business with him ever since. “Twenty-one years is a monumental occasion for most people and we’re really excited about achieving this milestone.”

Brushstrokes’ first store was only 400 square feet, located on North Highland. Its current location in Ansley Square totals 4,200 square feet. But then, as now, Brushstrokes was dedicated to supporting the LGBT community.

Business Spotlight: Brushstrokes

“All of our suppliers had to prove that they supported gay causes, hired openly gay employees, and believe in fairness and equality for all,” Schloeder says.

Brushstrokes is actually now divided into two stores. Brushstrokes/Sensory Overload is a variety store that includes gifts, greeting cards, DVDs, CDs, books, magazines, magnets, collectibles, and much more. Capulets/Brushstrokes Pleasures stocks items like adult toys and novelties, condoms and erotica.

Through the years, Jackson and Schloeder have seen trends and products change, like the transition from VHS to DVD and now Blu Ray. But according to Schloeder, the most notable has been “the need for Pride items.”

“Early on, it was very political. It took a lot of courage for someone to put a rainbow bumper sticker on their car for fear that they might be harassed or fired from their job,” he says, noting that “as public opinion as turned in our favor there has been a lesser demand for these items.”

But that is changing again. “Recent political campaigns have put gay issues back in the spotlight and I think the GLBT community feels newly empowered,” he says. “We think Pride is making a comeback.”

1510 Piedmont Ave. NE
Atlanta, GA 30324