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US’s oldest LGBTI business guild honors Key West retailer

US’s oldest LGBTI business guild honors Key West retailer

Towels of Key West has been running since 1986

The Key West Business Guild – the oldest gay and lesbian Chamber of Commerce in the US – has announced that it will present its annual Lifetime Membership Award to Towels of Key West – the gay-run towel and home decor store on Duval Street.

The gay-run store has been in business on Key West’s main drag since 1986. It was founded by Kent Henry and Stan Wellman.

Originally, it began by just selling beach towels but has expanded its range to include clothing and homeware.

Henry and Wellman followed Towels with the launch of Cocktails of Key West nine years ago, and launched their own line of clothing, American Boy Key West, five years ago.

‘In 2016 we will be starting our 30th year in business,’ said a statement on its website. ‘We have spent the last 30 years building up to this moment. Our goal in 2016 is to present the finest and most extensive collection on our 30 year history.’

The Key West Business Guild, founded in 1978, is a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting Key West to LGBTI travellers. It will present the award to Henry and Wellman at a luncheon on Wednesday at the Marriott Beachside.

Matt Hon, Executive Director for Key West Business Guild told Gay Star Business: ‘Towels of Key West will be celebrating 30 years of business in 2016, making them one of the oldest business’ on Duval Street.

‘They are the longest running retail store on Duval Street and one of the oldest LGBT establishments on the island. Thirty years is worth the recognition and since they have been a proud KWBG members since they opened, they are deserving of the KWBG Lifetime Membership Award!’

Towels of Key West has been approached for further comment.