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Boutique is smitten with village life
Sex shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure, says co-founder
The co-founder of a new "mature lifestyle boutique" in Osborne Village hopes to create a new sex-themed shopping experience for its patrons.
Smitten — which recently opened for business at 4-120 Osborne St. and is owned by Ron and Pauline Neufeld — aims to combine the concept of a premium adult boutique with a mainstream retail experience.
"Sex shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure; it’s something a couple should celebrate," said Robert Ritchot, who co-founded the first Smitten boutique in Brandon in 2009 with his wife, Kim, and Blair and Val Zurba. "You shouldn’t feel guilty walking through the door."
"We like to keep a clean, respectable environment where you can go in and buy a candle or massage oil or just get information. It’s not just about sex toys. We want an atmosphere that makes people more comfortable," he said, noting Smitten is based on the successful British Ann Summers model.
The boutique’s products include lingerie, footwear, jewelry, lotions and accessories, while the interior is decked out with bold, bright colours and eye-catching displays.
But Ritchot said the business is also designed to be a source of valuable information to its customer base.
Free pamphlets are available, regular seminars and workshops will be held and employees are expected to be knowledgeable about sexual education, romance — and even troubleshoot minor problems in the bedroom.
"In terms of taboos, many people don’t want to talk about sex for some reason, even when there are problems in a relationship, such as erectile dysfunction," Ritchot said.
"There are things we can do and we’ve got to talk about it. Everyone has the right to engage in this conversation. We have literature and books, so there’s a real educational component here."
Retail manager Leslie Zacharias said she’s received lots of positive feedback from customers since the shop opened last month.
"So far, I’m surprised to say I’ve heard no negative responses and the people coming in seem thrilled. Not only because they are excited that a store like this is here, but they’re also happy about the comfortable environment," said Zacharias, who lives in the village.
She noted that in addition to more mainstream items, "more intimate high-end massagers" have been selling well.
"Our top seller is a very high-end brand that has a lot to offer and it’s a brand people can trust. Our fetish line has also been doing well," Zacharias said.
Ritchot said it’s equally important to note what is not part of the boutique’s business model.
"By removing the stereotypical seedy aspects that are commonly associated with North American adult stores, such as pornographic magazines and videos . . . an atmosphere is created that is easily a cut above," he said.
For more information, call 453-0988.
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