Keeping Involved in the Community
On top of being a highly successful business, Boy Next Door is also known for being a prominent member of the community. Boy Next Door invests heavily in the community through participation in events like Atlanta Pride, various sponsorships and charitable contributions. Among the newer charities receiving support from Boy Next Door is Lost-n-Found Youth, through a number of methods.
“Everything from the Big Gay Game Show to running sales in our store in which we donate to the charity,” says Dowis. “For instance, we’ll have a 30%-off sale in the store, and in order to get that 30% discount on products, you have to give a minimum $1 cash donation to the charity. And any time we get a donation like that, we have a donation box on the counters. We give that money – there’s no middleman. It goes directly to the charity that we support.”
Boy Next Door’s charitable reach extends beyond the gay community into the broader Atlanta community. One of the newest charities receiving support from the company focuses on Atlanta-area children. The organization – Christmas, Cops and Kids – is an effort from the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department and the Atlanta Police Department that collects money to purchase clothing and school supplies for local children living in shelters.
Even events produced by Boy Next Door, such as their fashion shows, have a charitable aim.
“We do fashion shows to try and add entertainment value to the community,” says Dowis. “A lot of these things that we do come out of the Boy Next Door’s pockets directly. We’re not getting any other support, and the boys who work here are often doing it on their own time. When we’re doing things like that, it’s all volunteer across the board, or it’s covered by the Boy Next Door itself.”
Planning for Expanding
Even with over thirty years of success, Boy Next Door has no intention of resting on its laurels. The store is looking to expand its business footprint through a few different methods.
The first priority is launching an all-new website, according to Dowis. “We’re very close to offering and flipping the switch on with a full-fledged e-commerce site, where customers will be able to ship anywhere in the United States. We’re trying to find a way to still keep our exclusivity in products and offer a great selection to the customers.”
Once the website launches, which Dowis expects could happen within a few weeks, the store will turn its focus onto expanding its physical presence. Dowis admits, though, that the process of opening additional physical locations has its own challenges.
“We’re looking at opening additional locations not only within our community, but we’re looking at communities surrounding us. We’ve actually been readily walking real estate, and we are looking for affordable real estate for growth. That’s one of the major issues the Boy Next Door has had; in spite of the empty real estate in many parts of many different communities, even though the pieces of real estate may have been sitting there empty for years, the amount that they want for these spaces for a community-oriented company like us to go in there and be successful is just absurd.”
Still, Dowis believes that the store’s current model is the way to go. “We could be stupid and go in there and blow all this money and get loans and be financially irresponsible, hoping that it’s going to be successful, or we could go the direction we’ve been going and give that money back to the community until we find the right fit.”
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