It’s beginning to look a lot like Black Friday

Merchants talk about the importance of the day after Thanksgiving to the overall health of their business

Santa

BIG GAY SANTA | Fete-ish owner Chad Vogel placed a big Santa over his doorway in time to welcome Black Friday shoppers to his Bishop Arts District store. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Although most gay shopkeepers don’t approach Black Friday with the same frenzied mentality as mainstream retailers, the day after Thanksgiving is nonetheless important to their businesses.

To get the edge of those holiday shopping dollars, big box stores have been opening earlier and earlier. Wal-Mart even announced its Friday hours will begin on Thursday this year.

Dallas’ LGBT retailers haven’t turned the day into that kind of maniacal hysteria, but gay merchants on Cedar Springs Road and in the Bishop Arts District want customers to know they depend on good sales this weekend, too.

“Oh my God! It’s very important,” Skivvies owner David Richardson of the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping rush.

He said that he and partner Todd Seaton get to the store three hours early that day to start setting up, and business starts the minute they open the doors. He schedules extra help for the day and stays in the store himself from open until close to help answer questions, work the register and bag items.

“We’ll have discounts on some groups of merchandise throughout the store,” Richardson said, but every category sells well that day.

Black Friday accounts for as much as 20 percent of the Christmas season sales at Skivvies.

“It can be the biggest day of the year,” Richardson said. Only the day before Halloween rivals it.

Nuvo salesperson Daneen Foster agreed. She said she expected her store to be busy from open until close on Black Friday, even without any special promotions.

“We’re just going to be here with our fabulous merchandise, free gift wrapping and a knowledgeable, helpful and friendly staff,” she said.

TapeLenders owner Mark Milburn said, “This is the first time we’ve publicized Black Friday specials.”

In the past, he hasn’t noticed a big spike in business, but he said he thinks his “buy one, get one free” offer on adult videos and an additional 10 percent off on clearance items would especially boost sales.

Things are a little different for OutLines.

“It’s not one of our busier days, like at the malls,” owner David Lester said.

He said that for the past three years, Black Friday has been no better than any other Friday at OutLines. However, to boost sales over the holiday weekend this year, Lester planned to open the store from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

During those four hours last year, he said, he did more business than on the traditional shopping day. He said that specials would be offered throughout the store during the weekend.

“But our biggest weekend is Pride,” Lester said. “And First Wednesday is always a good night for us.”

Bishop Arts retailers report less reliance on a Black Friday surge.

Bishop Street Market owner Mike Harrity said it is usually busier than a normal Friday, but he expects to do much more business on Small Business Saturday. That is an American Express promotion started last year that gives $25 off to anyone that uses an Amex card in a small business on the Saturday following Black Friday.

“Down here we have Jingle Bells on Bishop,” Fete-ish owner Chad Vogel said.

That event takes place the following week.

“We’ll have live entertainment,” Vogel said. “Thousands of people roll through that weekend.”
Harrity agreed that Jingle Bells on Bishop was his store’s biggest weekend of the year

But Vogel said that Thanksgiving weekend does give his store a healthy and welcome spike in sales.

Then he reacted to the question of how gay stores do on Black Friday.

“What makes you think our store is gay?” he asked as he was lighting up the big pink Santa whose mouth is the front door of the store, while other employees were spraying tinsel and glitter everywhere.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas

Power of the pyramid

Kitchen Dog debuts ‘Ponzi,’ a financial horror story

NOUVEAU POOR | An heiress (Christina Vela, left) flirts with a man (Max Hartman) and his wife (Diane Casey-Box) in the economic meltdown play ‘Ponzi.” (Photo by Matt Mrozek)

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

PONZI
The MAC, 3120 McKinney Ave. Through June 25. $15–$25.
KitchenDogTheater.org.

…………………….

“The rich are different from you and me,” Scott Fitzgerald waxed, to which Hemingway allegedly responded, “Yes — they have more money.” But they are different. Money is never a big deal to people who have it, so they stand above it all. They don’t talk about how much they have, or how much things cost because, at some point, what difference does it make? If you don’t have to work to earn it, its value is fungible.

Then again, losing money — losing a great deal of it — is something everyone can understand. It becomes a source of ego, of pride. How would you feel if you pissed away $20 mil you didn’t deserve in the first place?

That is the situation posed to Catherine (Christina Vela), the regal heiress in Ponzi, the world premiere mainstage production at Kitchen Dog Theater’s New Works Festival. Catherine’s father was a legendary up-from-his-bootstraps self-made man who left Catherine two things: A solid fiscal philosophy and millions in cash to execute it.

She’s honored him by not being as showy and shallow as Allison (Diane Casey-Box), the quintessential nouveau riche Real Housewife, a woman with more cents than sense. Allison and hubby Bryce (Max Hartman) are enraptured by the get-rich-quick scheme of a flashy money manager, and their enthusiasm — plus Bryce’s unabashed flirtation with Catherine, driven in part by his lust for her balance sheet — leads to a series of bad mistakes.

Ponzi should frighten you more than it does, the way the Oscar winning documentary Inside Job did. There’s so much techno-talk — about the gold standard, how Social Security is a classic example of a Ponzi scheme that no one will touch, about how greed feeds pyramid schemes, about the lemming mentality that can cause sensible people to behave irrationally — that it needs to chill you. Like the financial meltdown, it’s not that some people didn’t see it coming; it’s that none of these so-called experts had any idea how reckless they were being. (The use of tarot cards to emphasize the randomness of life and fortune is a witty touch.)

Such horror is a ripe fruit that playwright Elaine Romero should have picked. Instead, she removes some of the universality of the tale by making it so specific to these characters.

That’s not entirely a bad thing. Instead of getting lost in the esoterica of money, she concentrates on the personality traits that drive people to make bad decisions. An undercurrent of sexual tension — between Catherine and Bryce, but just as electric (though more subtly expressed) between Catherine and Allison — makes the seductive power of the purse all the more visceral. Money is the new toy — and it’s a sex toy, at that.

Casey-Box plays the betrayed wife better than just about any actress in town; she’s always quick to turn on the ravenously uncensored switch in her characters’ brains, the one that makes people both pitiable and annoying. It’s delicious fun to watch. Vela is good as Catherine, but her final arc strikes a false note; it seems literary, not realistic.

Even still, the actors ply all these twists in one the KDT’s best-looking plays in years, with lush costumes from Tina Parker and a sleek set by Bryan Wofford. Amid such glam, the seduction of money begins to work on us, too. Maybe more is more, even if we hate to admit it.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 3, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

FEEDBACK: Cancel DMN subscriptions, Saving Easter in the Park, Tell TCA what you think

Cancel DMN subscriptions

The policy of the Dallas Morning News, which excludes same-sex marriage announcements while printing “traditional” marriage announcements, is discrimination, pure and simple. I just cancelled my subscription to the News, as I do not want my money supporting such discrimination. I urge other News subscribers to do the same, telling the News the reason for your cancellation.

Joe Ball, via e-mail


Saving Easter in the Park

Over 20 years ago, Oak Lawn was different. Known for our gays residents, artists and bohemians, Oak Lawn was a destination and a diamond in the conservative rough that was Dallas, Texas. People traveled miles for the safety, solace and solidarity provided just entering Oak Lawn’s boundaries. Events dotted the year. Obviously they were heavy on the gay side but they also were heavy with people that loved and didn’t judge us.

Easter in the Park was one of those events, and it was the most diverse of them all. Even the Dallas Symphony showed us the love by spending a cherished religious holiday with the scourge of the Christian community — we, the lowly homosexuals, and our proud brethren.

Fast forward to 2011. Those people we sought refuge from, that always showed us fear and contempt, infiltrated Easter in the Park and took our tradition away from us. The event was to be moved and made more “family friendly.”

I guess no one told them we were family already and our traditions bind us.

Gentrification is the same dance in any country and in any city. Bohemians, artists and gay people move to architecturally rich but neglected parts of town and make lemons into lemonade. Transformative magic happens, property values go up, tourism increases and good press abounds.

Then waves of yuppies come, each being a little less tolerant than their predecessor. They do not share the live-and-let-live mentality that allowed the first batch to come in the first place. They demand chain establishments and upscale amenties and folks with the income to afford them.

Long ago created to protect Oak Lawn’s character and history, the Oak Lawn Committee abandoned that mission ages ago. The last bit of history they let be destroyed were all the apartments that fell between Wycliff, Douglas, Rawlins and Hall. What were once charming duplexes and apartments are now what John Waters might call a “communist day care center.”

The committee is chock full of developers, and their last decade seems to have been dedicated to the three-story rectangle and the wonders it bestows on mankind. If you are unable to reside in one of these for $300,000, $400,000 or $500,000, then pity you, please leave. Be careful Oak Cliff. You’re next.

It isn’t just developers’ fault. The block on Cedar Springs where JR.’s resides used to be a historic collection of quaint storefronts that mirrored across the street. Now a collection of cavernous cinderblock buildings house our bars. They are so large and impersonal, they require a few hundred people to achieve the intimacy 50 used to provide. If we lose Easter in the Park, then we lose a piece of ourselves and where we came from. Those that fought for where we are today would be mortified. I hear them turning in their graves.

I intend to show up in Lee Park on Easter and have a contest with myself to see how gay I can look for the family-friendly crowd. When it comes to respect, I give what I get.

Michael Amonett, via e-mail


Tell TCA what you think

Please call the Turtle Creek Association and Cathy Golden at 214-526-2800 and voice your opposition to the hijacking of the Easter in the Park event, done apparently to exclude gays this year, which was thwarted only by heavy arm-twisting. Read the press; join the Facebook fan page and, most importantly, show up! Ms. Golden can have her own “family-friendly” Creek Craze on April 17 if she wants. I was born into a family and have a family of choice and consider myself friendly. Doesn’t that make me “family-friendly”? Perhaps not in Ms. Golden’s “hetero-Republican-marriage-and-two-kids” world, but the world has changed a lot. I remember when Lee Park was a cruise spot with a popular tee room; it was all some people had. I personally think it’s fantastic that youth today have no clue what a cruise park or a tee room is. There are real role models to aspire to today and real, healthy community events —including Easter in the Park.

This is really quite typical of how things tend to operate. We move in to an area, organization or event and make it fabulous — and then get run off. I will oppose any change that Ms. Golden wishes to bring that would take us all back to the “golden days” when gays were marginalized on a grand scale, forced into the bushes, darkened cruise spots and closets. Change is coming folks; change is here. We’re here; we’re queer; get over it! Oh and one more thing: Thank God for drag queens and trannies. If it were not for them, we as the gay community would not exist. Look back on Stonewall and remember; we must never forget to honor the bravest amongst ourselves. I stand in awe of people who are just who they are and live life day after day against threats of violence, hatred, homophobia, misogyny (which is where I personally believe that homophobia has it’s real origin), and just live out loud!

Daniel Shipman, via Instant Tea

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright