Year-round swimear to con­tinue

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

Boy Next Door Menswear, a sta­ple of gay At­lanta fashion for more than three decades, is un­der new own­er­ship and armed with plenty of plans for the fu­ture. The store, which de­scribes it­self as a menswear bou­tique, car­ries a full range of mens’ fash­ions from dress wear to ca­sual wear, swim­suits to dress shirts and more than a few styles of un­der­wear, too.

Bill Garner, Boy Next Door’s new owner, is an At­lanta na­tive whose fam­ily reaches back more than 200 years in the re­gion. He and his hus­band Ira, who he mar­ried in 2016 af­ter be­ing to­gether for 16 years, were long­time cus­tomers of the store them­selves. Bill tells sto­ries of com­ing to the store since its open­ing back in 1980 – and he’s quick to say he plans on hon­or­ing its legacy.

“When I learned through friends that the store was avail­able, I was ex­cited by the op­por­tu­nity. It’s al­ways been a great store and has evolved over time. The store has a long his­tory in the At­lanta com­mu­nity and has evolved with the times. We will con­tinue to em­brace the many cus­tomers and friends of Boy Next door who have al­ways been there while also ex­pand­ing to keep pace with the growth and changes in At­lanta,” Garner said.

Plenty of cos­metic changes are al­ready un­der­way, in­clud­ing fresh paint and a new look. Garner isn’t look­ing to change every­thing, but he’s cer­tainly ex­cited to cap­i­tal­ize on his own his­tory with the store and the fact that he’s a lo­cal.

“We want to as­sure our cus­tomers that they will con­tinue to to re­ceive per­sonal care and at­ten­tion,” he said. “Now, with lo­cal own­er­ship, it will get some ad­di­tional lov­ing care.”

March 3, 2017

Garner is quick to point out that it’s the store’s home­town na­ture and strong re­la­tion­ships with its cus­tomers that help Boy Next Door stand out against the com­pe­ti­tion.

“We are very proud of the per­sonal re­la­tion­ships we have with our cus­tomers and we re­ward fre­quent shop­pers through a loy­alty pro­gram,” he said.

That at­ten­tion to de­tail isn’t just a re­sult of open­ing a bou­tique store in a tight-knit neigh­bor­hood. Garner is ef­fu­sive about his staff and their pas­sion for help­ing shop­pers find the right fash­ions for the right mo­ment, whether it’s a for­mal evening or a trop­i­cal cruise.

“The store man­ager, Rocky, and his staff are a ter­rific team,” he said. “Rocky, Tom­pall, Kyle and Michael all have a keen in­ter­est in fashion trends and they en­joy help­ing with se­lec­tion, fits, col­ors and looks that are best for each in­di­vid­ual. They are brand ex­perts and al­ways will­ing to con­sult and of­fer sug­ges­tions.”

In a time when “shop lo­cal” isn’t just a hobby but an ide­ol­ogy, Boy Next Door is able to bring new fash­ions and looks to cater to At­lanta’s gay com­mu­nity in a way that the larger, cor­po­rate stores can’t.

By ROB­BIE MEDWED —Boy Next Door Menswear’s new owner Bill Garner

“As an in­de­pen­dent bou­tique, we fo­cus on de­sign­ers that are unique and amaz­ing,” Garner said. “A lot of thought goes into se­lect­ing the best fresh looks and trend­ing styles. We care­fully se­lect bou­tique brands that are best in de­sign and qual­ity.”

It cer­tainly doesn’t hurt that Boy Next Door is one of the few stores to stock swimwear and beach­wear year-round, which Garner plans to con­tinue.

“Our tar­get cus­tomer is a man who is a trend­set­ter, not a fol­lower, who wants to look his best while he is on the go, con­fi­dently liv­ing life as he chooses,” he said.

De­sign­ers to make store ap­pear­ances

Boy Next Door plans on bring­ing the de­sign­ers of some of its most beloved brands to the store to meet its cus­tomers. Famed un­der­wear de­signer An­drew Chris­tian be­gins the se­ries with a book sign­ing in April. And of course, be­cause no An­drew Chris­tian event is com­plete with­out ab-laden boys in un­der­wear, he’ll be bring­ing a model with him, too. Fu­ture brand de­signer guests in­clude 2EROS, BWET and SUPAWEAR.

Part of Boy Next Door’s legacy is its con­tri­bu­tion to the larger At­lanta LGBT com­mu­nity. It’s of­ten a des­ti­na­tion store for tourists com­ing to town for At­lanta Pride and other events, which makes Garner in­cred­i­bly proud.

He de­scribes Boy Next Door as “part of both the his­tory and the fu­ture of the At­lanta LGBT com­mu­nity. At­lanta is one of the few cities with an ac­tive com­mu­nity with restau­rants, bars, parks and friend­ships that span decades. We en­joy the di­ver­sity within the LGBT com­mu­nity and are pleased with the co­op­er­a­tion among the mul­ti­ple spe­cial in­ter­est groups. We wel­come ev­ery­one to the store – gay, straight, men, women, cou­ples, new to the com­mu­nity, es­tab­lished or just start­ing out. We are open to all. My hus­band and I are proud to call this com­mu­nity home.”

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