A sex-oriented shop is proposed for 45 Manchester St. If approved by city regulators, the shop — to be named Provocative Indulgence — would be on the first block of Manchester Street, within the shadow of the luxury apartments being leased out at Elm St. Some downtown property owners are concerned. In an interview, Raymond said she is 36 years old, the mother of five, a sexual assault survivor, and a full-time office manager.
She said she has been selling the products through in-home parties for 13 years, and her customers have expressed a need for a shop. She said the shop would mostly be geared toward women. She understands that some people are against it, fearing it will resemble typical sex shops.
If a variance is granted, it will create a domino effect for the entire block, said Norrie Oberlander of North End Properties, which owns Elm Street. In filings at City Hall, Raymond said pornography will not be sold at the shop. Product packaging will be discrete and classy, and any product that resembles human anatomical parts will not be within the line of customer sight. The literature calls the store a boutique-style, intimate-product retail store.
It will be bright and clean. Windows will be frosted, and it will have no neon or flashing signs, the literature reads.
The literature said professionals will direct educational workshops, and no nudity or sexual activity will take place during workshops. The description can be viewed below: If the variance is denied, Raymond would have to seek out a location outside Manchester, she said.
But other communities lack the level of demand and population that Manchester offers to sustain the business, she said. Manchester has one adult-oriented business, Forbidden Fruit, which is located on Amherst Street and predated the city ordinance controlling sex shops.
Beaudry said Forbidden Fruit is a member of her organization; all property owners in the downtown belong to the organization. They have been there. She noted that plans are in the works to open a music club across the street. Raymond must seek a variance because the Manchester Street storefront is within feet of a church, specifically, the Christian non-denominational Zeal Church.
The church opened about a year ago in the former Manchester police station at Chestnut and Merrimack streets.