St. Pete's LGBTQ Welcome Center reopens with local flair and wares

The LGBTQ Welcome Center in Saint Petersburg’s Grand Central District reopened this month with new offerings and amenities, including an ice cream bar and store selling local goods. 

Originally launched in 2014 as a community center and safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender visitors, the center closed in January in order to revamp its services and develop a new business plan with retail and social programming. The Welcome Center opened again on October 6 with a new store featuring St. Pete merchandise, and an ice cream and coffee bar.

“Our goal is to feature everything local,” says Jim Nixon, Tourism Marketing Manager and LGBT liaison for the City of St. Pete.

The Welcome Center now serves Kahwa Coffee and Working Cow Ice Cream. Its boutique consignment store features LGBTQ artists and makers, including pop artists John Gascot, jewelry maker Debbie Richmond, and potter Wendy Durand. Soaps and deodorants from Bodhi Basics and pet treats from St. PetersBARK are also on sale. 40 percent of the proceeds go back to support the Welcome Center.   

The 1,600-square-foot bungalow dates back to the 1920s. It was donated to the Metro Wellness and Community Centers in 2013 and relocated to its current location at 2049 Central Avenue. 

The center offers other services including LGBT youth nights and free HIV testing on the first Saturday of the month.

For those interested in supporting the Wellness Center, memberships are available for individuals, families, businesses, and nonprofits. Fees range from $75 for individual memberships to upwards of $5,000 for corporate memberships, and include business cards and brochure distribution at the facility.
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Read more articles by Dyllan Furness.

Dyllan Furness is a freelance writer and born-again Floridian based in Tampa. He covers the Tampa Bay Area’s development boom for 83 Degrees, with an eye out for sustainable and community-driven initiatives.