Ecommerce store shoppers

Zebraz gay pride store in San Antonio turns 30

If you’ve ever driven down Main Avenue, the giant technicolor zebra sign protruding from the Glen Chase store probably caught your eye. If you’ve never been there, you may have been told that Zebraz is a sex shop. If so, you have been misled. Chase explains that the store is primarily a gay pride store and has been since it opened in 1995. It has a wide selection of LGBTQ+ positive merchandise and apparel, it also happens to carry your standard salacious adult merchandise.

“We have streetwear, we have lingerie, you know, it runs the gamut,” Chase says. “It’s almost like a full department store.”

A keystone of San Antonio’s “gay strip”, Zebraz is an important milestone in the city’s LGBTQ+ history.

Story

In 1987, Chase opened Encore Video, a “novelty” and porn video store. “Zebraz is just an extension of that,” Chase shares.

After finding some success, he opened Zebraz in 1995, which initially did not sell any adult products and operated exclusively as a Pride store.

The original Zebraz was located further from the city center, tucked away in a more rural area. However, after the Great Flood of 1998, Chase and its business partner moved operations to the current location on Main Avenue. Even in the 90s, when nightclubs like Heat and Sparky were just a twinkle in the eyes of the hallway, the street was known to be gay friendly, with several bars nearby.

While the store has changed some in its nearly 30 years of service, something that has remained unwavering is Zebraz’s commitment to e-commerce. Early adopters of the web, Zebraz created a website in 1996 and immediately began selling its products online, Chase shares. Back then, internet users had to fill out and submit documents in order to get a domain name for their website. Originally, Chase wanted to name the shop Zebras (without the Z). However, when he went to ask for the domain name, he was already taken.

“I think we missed it by two weeks,” Chase says.

“Zebraz” would have been called “Zebras” had it not been for a claimed internet domain.

Camille Sauers/MySA

Zebra today

Chase’s favorite part of running the store has always been being able to offer pride items to the local LGBTQ+ community. “We’re going to keep doing that, I think that’s where we are,” he said.

He also finds Zebraz to be a rather singular presence in San Antonio.

“You know, we’re pretty unique,” Chase says. “I mean, I think there are other stores that have popped up, but they don’t last very long.”

The top sellers at Zebraz these days are in the clothing category. Pride merchandise, and in particular swimsuits (which Zebraz sells year-round), are particularly popular. The same goes for its selection of leather goods, from crease warning harnesses to other accessories.

As for Main Avenue, things are getting bigger. Chase tells me a bar is looking to open in the building next door.

“I don’t know, it can be good for us or it can be bad for us,” he says. “Obviously it’s good, because it’s all in the little neighborhood and everyone does similar things. It’s just a little place where people can escape. So ultimately I think it’s good , it can be extended.

Find it: 1608 N Main Ave., San Antonio, TX 78212