A new adult shop in downtown Port Orchard is ruffling the feathers of some working nearby who believe passersby can too easily look in the front windows and see sex-related products.
Aphrodisia Boutique, located next to the South Kitsap Chamber of Commerce on Bay Street, is owned by Daniel Baron and Fox Grocutt. Self-described “sex nerds,” the couple takes the job of enhancing the sexual pleasure of customers seriously. The store was designed to be a place where customers could feel no shame walking in the door, they said.
“We don’t sell any pornography – no DVD sex tapes or dirty mags,” Baron stressed.
The shop offers products designed to spice things up in the bedroom, including sex toys, lingerie and prophylactics, the owners said. There are also books, ranging from erotic fiction to educational on how to have better sex and relationships.
The owners refer to their outlet as a sexual wellness boutique.
Aphrodisia Boutique features several large windows in front. Workers in the building critical of the new business did not seem concerned about the nature of the shop but were upset that the public could look through the windows.
“I feel there should be screens or window coverings,” said Vicki Wittig, owner of Serenity Salon, located a few doors away. “I don’t know how the (building) owners let this happen. I could care less about their business, but I don’t want our children exposed to it. It’s an adult store with adult materials.”
Wittig added: “We are very family-oriented here. We have festivals downtown, and people park in our lot and walk downtown. And during the parade families park in the lot and watch.”
Jane Teller, office manager of the Department of Corrections probation office located on the floor above Aphrodisia Boutique, voiced similar concerns. “We supervise sex offenders and others. We have classes for them. I don’t think there should be anything that is triggering to them,” Teller said. “I’ve already commented to the landlord and asked about maybe getting some privacy screens put up on the windows.”
Chamber president Matt Murphy, whose office is next to the sex shop, welcomed the new store. “They are a new retail business here in South Kitsap, and we are treating them as any other retail business. They have joined the chamber, and we wish them the best of luck.”
To address concerns about the windows, the owners recently installed what they describe as beaded curtains. “We want to accommodate our neighbors. We had people come back and tell us this was a great solution. It obscures the sight inside just enough, so you don’t have to look in unless you want to. It is very important to us that we did not black out our windows because we want everybody to be able look inside and see this is a safe and comfortable environment,” Baron said.
Teller is not satisfied. “I think what they have done is not enough. You can see right through those beads. I wouldn’t want my kids to walk past there,” she said.
The shop’s name is a shout-out to the ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite, goddess of beauty, fertility and sexual love, Baron said. It also refers to the idea of an aphrodisiac, which is an aid to libido, sexuality and sensuality.
There is no age limitation on who can enter the store, which is another point of contention to some. “Nothing we sell is age-restricted in Washington state,” Baron said. “You can buy vibrators at Walmart and buy the same kind of books we carry at Barnes & Noble.”
Grocutt said they want the store to look inviting. “We wanted to avoid looking like every other sex shop, even down to our color scheme,” Grocutt said. “A lot of sex shops have black and red or hot pink. Our main color is orange, a nice warm gender-neutral color. We wanted to avoid looking cheesy and avoid looking creepy.”
She said there is a reason they don’t sell porn. “We don’t sell porn because we want everyone to feel welcome. A lot of women especially feel kind of icky when they see porn everywhere.”
Baron added: “My mom is coming to visit in two days. I wanted this to be a place where she can come in. She is also a business owner and has been really supportive of us putting this together.”