CHELSEA — There aren't many stores where you can find scented candles and greeting cards sold alongside sex toys and g-strings — and soon there will be even fewer.
Chelsea's unique "gay gift shop," Rainbows and Triangles, will close within the next month, staff said on Tuesday. The store, which opened in 1994, specialized in an eclectic mix of LGBT books, knickknacks, cards, lube, sex toys and underwear.
The store's owner, Fernan Royo, decided not to renew his lease after a rent increase, staff said, though they did not provide details.
The shop at 192 Eighth Ave. was more than just a curiosity for passing tourists — for many in Chelsea's gay community, it was a kind of community hub. As rain poured down on Tuesday, regulars stopped by the store, hoping to get in one last conversation with the staff.
"I could come in and feel like I'm at home — it had that gay home feeling," said lifelong Chelsea resident Elias Pabon, 35, who had been coming to the store since he was in junior high. "We'd come here and talk with staff about our own relationships, how we were living our lives — now that home is going to be stripped away."
For one final celebration, Rainbows and Triangles put all of its merchandise on sale, offering 25 to 50 percent off everything in the store — even leather sex swings. The store's closing was first reported by the blog kenneth in the (212).
J.J. Mack, 36, who has worked at the store for nearly eight years, said he will miss "pretty much everything" about the shop after it closes.
"Especially the socializing — you make so many good friends here and you'd get to give counsel to the customers when they needed it," he said.
Rainbows and Triangles is yet another Eighth Avenue standard that's closing down in the wake of rising rents. Last year, leather bar Rawhide shut down with a huge closing night party. And after two decades of serving coffee, sandwiches and baked goods, Paradise Cafe closed in July 2103, shocking its regular customers.
"This neighborhood, the whole neighborhood is changing," said Carlos Hernandez, 59, who's worked at the shop since 2000. "It's cleaner now, but I think I like the Chelsea of the 1990s better."