Ashland's first and only sexuality boutique is moving out of the basement and further into the public eye, taking over a large storefront downtown.
Neighbors of the vacant space at 383 East Main Street in Ashland say they're excited for Love Revolution to take over the space, the former location of skate shop Aedion, which closed in December due to poor sales, according to a former employee.
"As Ashland's first sexuality boutique, there's still so many people that don't know us," said Brenda Johnson, co-owner of the store with partner Mitchell Walzer. "The new location will change that."
Johnson said since the store's opening in 2011, nearby businesses have warmed up to the boutique, which sells sexually themed books, movies, clothing and games, as well as dildos, vibrators, lubricants and other adult items in a sectioned-off area.
The current basement location at 111 E. Main Street was becoming too small for the boutique, and the wide range of classes and events the couple organizes, Johnson said.
"We want to expand in every department," she said.
Currently, classes are held about twice a month and take place in a borrowed classroom from Love Revolution's upstairs neighbor, Sew Creative. The new space is large enough for the store and a space for classes.
The store's move into a larger location is evidence that they're a growing, evolving business, according to Katharine Flanagan, director of sales, marketing and the Visitors and Convention Bureau for the Ashland Chamber of Commerce.
"They're a legitimate business and they are valued chamber members," said Flanagan. "They're evolving, and this is an example of growth of a small business."
Flanagan said the store has survived through a couple of summer tourism seasons already, and said it doesn't seem that the shop is a concern for typical Ashland tourists.
"The Ashland visitor is highly educated, they have expendable income and they're pretty worldly," said Flanagan. "They're seasoned travelers."
When the store first opened in 2011, some nearby businesses expressed concern over the store's theme, but businesses on either side of the new location said they weren't bothered by their soon-to-be new neighbors.
"I'm very excited, I can't wait to have them next door," said Stacey Larnerd, owner of Village Shoes.
Walzer said the negativity the store has sometimes received is typically from people who have never been inside.
"The people who judge our business are the ones that don't come in," said Walzer. "And we invite them to. We want an open dialogue.
"The fears before we opened were if we had some really lowbrow shop," said Walzer.
Larnerd said she didn't have any concerns about Love Revolution moving in next door.
"I think they're successful, and I want this end of the block to be hoppin'. And I think they do a lot of First Friday events," said Larnerd.
Love Revolution has joined in with First Friday Art Walk activities which include offering free wine or drinks and displaying artwork, for 32 months straight, according to Walzer.
They plan to finish renovations on their new location in late March, in time for a grand opening during the April 4 First Friday Art Walk.
Walzer, who is helping with the renovations, said customers can expect to see a completely remodeled space, with new floors and walls, and an "open design."
"The space was really beautiful before, but it didn't really fit with us," said Johnson.
Johnson said she hopes the new location will bring in more new customers who want to learn about fostering healthy, loving sexual relationships.
"We want to give people the education they need. Part of our mission is to normalize sexuality," she said. "And it's about love, ultimately."
Johnson encouraged those interested in the shop to attend the next class they are organizing, called "Partners in Passion." Led by a couple from New York, the workshop takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. March 16.
Teresa Ristow is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.