You don’t need to sneak into a sex shop — you can walk in with your head held high. At least, that’s the idea behind Aphrodisia Boutique, a new store in Port Orchard.
Owners Daniel Baron and Fox Grocutt moved to the area in 2019, drawn by the picturesque water and mountains, as well as the culture here, Daniel said. Sexuality has always been important to both of them and they quickly began hunting for a local sex shop to patronize, he said.
But they didn’t find one they liked. The ones they encountered were too seedy, used heavily gendered advertising, or sold products that are, in the couple’s words, “unsafe for use in a real human body.”
Sexuality really touches every single part of our lives as human beings. It gets just so integrated into who we are as people, how we interact with each other, how we build our societies, that it’s impossible to ignore.
So they decided to open their own store that conformed to their values. Fox said their store is committed to only stocking “body safe” toys and lubricants. Because the sex toy industry is unregulated, it can be difficult to determine the safety of each product, but they’ve taken pains to vet the items in their store. As far as they know, there’s no other store in Kitsap that has made such a stringent commitment to safety.
Fox said another way she and Daniel, who both identify as queer, is trying to distinguish the shop is by being a resource for the queer community.
“We want to make a place that feels nice; that’s something that from day one was really important … a store that is welcoming and pleasant to the inside for everyone,” Daniel said. “We want to encourage people to think of sexuality as a normal, healthy, happy thing.”
Fox is currently training to be a sexuality educator; she hopes to have the training completed by the end of the year, she said.
“One thing that I’ve noticed again and again in the courses that I’ve been taking is how sexuality really touches every single part of our lives as human beings,” she said. “It gets just so integrated into who we are as people, how we interact with each other, how we build our societies, that it’s impossible to ignore.”
People are often raised in sex-negative environments and end up feeling ashamed about their sexuality, she said.
“They think they’re alone in their desires or their kinks or whatever it is,” she said. “And we want to have a space where you can feel normal and accepted. So we talk very matter-of-factly about everything. We’re not going to judge anyone for asking whatever questions they have about our products or what we might have in stock or anything. That’s kind of our aim — that we just want people to know that whatever they’re feeling about themselves, it’s OK.”
Although they’ve had a lot of positive feedback since the store opened, they’ve also had their fair share of pushback, including harassing phone calls. Daniel said most of the harassing calls were from non-local phone numbers, from people who don’t live in the area.
“The overwhelming response from people has been, ‘Thank you for being here. We’re so glad that the store exists here in Kitsap, in Port Orchard,'” he said.
“We’re outwardly sex-positive and we’re outwardly queer and unfortunately there are bigots that don’t like that,” Fox added. “And that’s always going to be the case, unfortunately.”
Of course, not every community member who bristles at the sight of a sex shop in their area is going to make harassing phone calls. To them, Daniel says, “The first thing I would say is, come on in and say hi. And if you have questions or concerns, just ask us, because we both love what we do. We’re really happy to talk about why we’re here and we hope to be an asset for the community. Just come on down and look at our store and see that it’s not anything shameful, it’s not scary. We have a nice space. We’re welcoming. I think people might be pleasantly surprised if they actually came and checked us out.”
In addition to adult-oriented toys, the store offers art, books and other assorted products. “They’ve been really popular and they’re not things that you see so much in other sex shops,” Fox said. “I think people just have been excited to be in here.”
Aphrodisia Boutique is located at 1014 Bay Street, Suite 4, in Port Orchard. Construction of a new roundabout has created traffic problems, but Daniel recommends coming in the back way by driving down Rockwell Avenue.
People can also order online, and get more information about the store, at Aphrodisia.boutique.