Glancing at the two female mannequins getting ready to tie the knot in the display window of a new bridal shop in Park Slope—one clad in a black tuxedo, the other a big white gown—passersby may realize something historic has happened.
This lawmakers in Albany legalized same-sex marriage, giving the lesbian and gay community of New York the right to wed—and giving a much-needed boost to small businesses, like the brand-new bridal shop on Seventh Avenue.
In the report released by the State Senate's Independent Democratic Conference, same-sex marriage is predicted to boost economic activity by $391 million during the first three years of the law.
Sposabella Couture, between Berkeley and Lincoln places, is just one of the local businesses capitalizing on the new legal rights, in an effort to capture some of that extra revenue.
After the store’s grand opening on Sunday, three gay couples came in to pick out custom gowns, and, although Sena usually doesn’t make them, custom tuxedos, too. And it's at least in part thanks to her wife-and-wife window display.
“For me, money doesn’t have a race, religion, or a sexual orientation, and neither do gowns,” Sena said.
Although the mannequins are admittedly a marketing ploy, it’s working. As Sena showed off her silk gowns by Stephen Yearick, Pronovias and Rina Di Montella, a woman, stopped in and told Sena, “I posted a picture of your window on Facebook and it is going viral. We are all going to support you.”
The woman will be getting hitched in white tuxedo pants and a white blouse from Sena’s shop, her partner in a white gown for their January wedding.
With the IDC report predicting that 21,309 New York gay and lesbian couples will get married in the first three years after the law goes into effect on July 24, Sposabella is not the only shop in Park Slope specifically targeting patrons of marriage equality. Afterall, Park Slope is a neighborhood boasting one of the biggest lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender populations in New York City.
, a jewelry store on Seventh Avenue, known for its pretty, non-traditional wedding bands is honoring marriage equality with a 10 percent sale on wedding rings ordered before July 10.
According to Kat LaRanger, a jewelry manager there, post law at least five LGBT couples come to the store each day to look at wedding bands.
On Sunday, LaRanger said, a lesbian couple came in and picked out a band to officially get hitched after waiting 30 years for the law to pass. “We already had many [LGBT] couples buying bands, but we are much busier now,” said LaRanger.
“Gay or straight, they are selling like hot cakes!” said Jill Diaz, the manager of , a jewelry shop across the street from The Clay Pot, between President and Union streets. Diaz pointed out a solid rose gold wedding band that she sold to a lesbian couple the day after New York became the sixth and largest state to legalize same-sex marriage.
But jewelry stores and bridal shops are not the only businesses positively affected by the law. , a paperie on Seventh Avenue and Fourth Street, is currently making wedding invitations for five same-sex weddings. In total last year, Melinda Morris, the owner, made invites for only 20 gay weddings.
“They have always been a big percentage of our sales, but I expect that number to at least double,” Morris said.
, a flower shop and a 40-year-old neighborhood staple, has a sign in the window that reads, “We do weddings!” with rainbow-colored ribbons dangling below. They usually make arrangements for five same-sex weddings a year, which the owner, Fonda Sara, refers to as “two bride weddings,” since almost all of her same-sex clients are lesbian.
Although local shops are gearing up for an influx in business, same-sex marriage is a social change, and one that will take a while to set in. However, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
“Businesses in Brooklyn are rolling out the welcome mat for folks who do want to get married here and they all expect to reap significantly more revenue out of this,” said Michael Burke, the president of the Brooklyn Community Pride Center and the chief operating officer of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “Not only from an equality perspective is this a great thing, but also from a business perspective it could not be a better situation for New York.”