I first heard about Lotus Blooms during a workshop on using sex toys as a tool to heal from trauma at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit. An audience member identified themselves as an employee of the shop and presenter Sarah Brynn Holliday shared with the room that she used to work there several years earlier. The sex shop was located in Alexandria, VA, the same city where the conference was held. A quick Google search confirmed it was under fifteen minutes away, so I decided to make an impulsive trip to check it out that night.
My partner and I parked in a paid lot a block away from Lotus Blooms and made the short walk over to the storefront. The window display was decorated in an unintimidating, feminine fashion–so much so that we scanned the street several times before realizing it was the sex shop we were looking for. Stepping inside, I immediately knew I was in a safe space. The shop had a strong “boutique” feel to it that exuded cleanliness and class. This was not like the trashy sex shops of Connecticut I knew so well.
There was definitely a strong emphasis on corsets and lingerie, which gave the shop a really elegant feel to it. Outside the changing rooms, under bright chandeliers, sat a few colorful, velvet Victorian-style sofas and armchairs. Floral accents and gold-framed, sex-positive messages adorned the shelves around the shop, as well. The entire store felt calm, affirming, and inviting to all types of people.
I spoke to Teal Dye, one of the sex educators working at Lotus Blooms that night, about how the conference was going and my Sex Tour series on the blog. She was delightful to chat with. As I walked around the store, picking up sex toys on display and showing them to my partner, she would engage me in conversations about the specific models we looked at. Teal was clearly very knowledgeable in the products at Lotus Blooms and it was refreshing to have that friendly presence to share ideas with while I shopped around.
In the back of the shop, there was a kink section that had some interesting pieces. Unlike big chain sex toy retailers who stock cheap, mass-produced kink toys, Lotus Blooms had some unique toys I had never seen before. They also had a couple solid metal paddles I fell head over heels in love with (unfortunately, my tight budget on the conference sadly wouldn’t allow me to indulge). Paired with all the pretty impact toys were educational books, which made me really happy to see. I’m all about educating folks on safe forms of kink and their inclusion of these books with the actual toys showed me they also value that education.
In addition to the kink toys that caught my eye, Lotus Blooms had all kinds of classics and staples for any sex toy box. They had an array of vibrators, dildos, and anal toys, all made from body-safe materials. With all your sex toys bases covered, safe kink-inclusion, clothing options, safer sex products, sexuality books, and weekly educational workshops, Lotus Blooms is the feminist sex shop I so badly wish my state had.