When Anthony Noce’s kickball team went to the championships in Washington, D.C., he saw something interesting: a clothing store tailored to gay men.
He’d seen one like it in New York City, but shrugged it off.
“New York is New York, it can support a lot of stuff other cities can’t,” Noce said.
But the store in Washington got him thinking.
“How can Washington support this and Philadelphia not?” Noce said. “We’re branded as a gay-friendly city, but there’s no stores that sell the product gay men actually end up buying.”
After sighting a third store in Pittsburgh, Noce decided it was time to open his own store in Philadelphia. With a fashion degree from Drexel University and no prior business background, Noce opened Nutz & Boltz Jan. 29 and hosted the grand opening on Feb. 26.
Inside the shop at 1220 Spruce St., colorful underwear, specialty bathing suits and loungewear line the walls.
“I’m trying to supply clothes to the gay population in Philadelphia and trying to bring in some brands that you can’t get here,” Noce said.
The store carries popular brands in Philadelphia not found elsewhere in the city, like Nasty Pig, Andrew Christian and Cheap Monday. The boutique carries merchandise from 12 different brands, with more to be added soon.
Gay men, lesbian women, straight women and even straight men have come into the store to make purchases, Noce said.
Long-term goals for Noce include starting and selling his own in-house brand. He also plans to host local fashion designers’ clothing in his store through an open call. Further down the line, Noce said he wants to sell clothing for lesbian women who do not conform to clothing types in traditional women’s stores.
“I don’t want to have anyone come in here and feel like the only description is that ‘Pretty Woman’ scene where she goes into the store and they don’t help her [because of how she looks],” Noce said. “I never want that to happen.”
“Everybody likes to feel sexy,” Noce said. “That’s really what it comes down to. Everybody wants to feel good about themselves.”
Gillian McGoldrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.