NORTHAMPTON, Mass.–After months of preparation, Northampton’s Pride & Joy successfully launched its grand reopening at its new location in Thorne’s Marketplace in downtown Northampton last month. Commonly dubbed as the unofficial LGBT community center of Northampton, Pride & Joy has long been considered the heart of the LGBT community for the past 20 years. Acting Mayor and Mayor Elect David Narkewicz and District Attorney David Sullivan were both present at the celebration and joined in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“This isn’t just a store; it is a social and political institution in Northampton,” said District Attorney David Sullivan. “When times were tough for the LGBT community, this really was the place that was the heart of the political movement, the social movement, and really was there for the community to understand that everyone should be included.”
Co-owners Jennifer Harlan and Joy Rain purchased the store during pride season from former co-owners, Kelly Wagoner, Melissa Borchardt, and Jeff Wheelock.
“On Pride Day this past May ? the final day the old store was open for business ? we stood outside passing out fliers letting people know the store would be re-opening at a later date,” said Harlan. “We made the decision to make the new store family-friendly based on the fact that we saw so many lesbian moms and gay dads leaving their kids outside the store while they went in to shop. We wanted to create a store where all families can feel comfortable shopping with their children.”
Shortly after the purchase, Harlan and Rain prepared to move the store from Crafts Avenue to its current location.
“We changed locations because we wanted the store to be in the heart of Northampton and Thorne’s Marketplace is just that,” said Rain.
Several LGBT & allied supporters filled and overflowed the store and hallways of Thorne’s Marketplace in celebration of Pride & Joy’s new beginning as they were treated to savory pastries provided by Paul & Elizabeth’s restaurant and festive ice cream from Herrell’s, also located in Thorne’s Marketplace. Evelyn Harris performed throughout the night.
“What a beautiful store,” said local filmmaker Barbara Allen, echoing sentiments heard from many at the event. “I hope people remember to shop local and shop here.”
With the new store come a new vision and a new product focus.
“Our vision for the store is to be a celebration of Northampton and a destination for the LGBTQ community and allies,” Rain explained. “This means we must carry retail items that our customers want. This commitment means that the store needed to begin to offer more high quality clothing, LGBTQ gifts and Northampton souvenirs. We are committed to carrying a selection of resources books that cover topics including LGBTQ parenting, coming out, children’s books, and the trans community.”
Although change is inevitable, Rain is hopeful that the 20-year old store will live on in the hearts of its customers while embracing its new concept.
“The store’s new tagline, ‘Live & Let Shop’ is about a fun store where customers purchase items that celebrate their identity and maintain a legacy … thank you for being part of the legacy,” she said.
Northampton’s Pride & Joy is located in Thorne’s Marketplace at 150 Main Street in downtown Northampton. To learn more about the store, please visit: www.nohoprideandjoy.com or call 413-727-3758.