Where does one draw the line between business and pleasure? There is no such line at 210 King St., where the new lingerie and gifts shop, Le Tache, has made its home. While offensive to some, it is a legitimate new business.
Murmurings from the community have ranged from outrage to yawns in the week since the shop, which sells adult entertainment products, has opened. Bluntly, it is a sex shop something out of Amsterdams red-light district, a stark contrast to the historic and pristine brick-lined streets of Old Town.
Does it fit with Old Towns traditional business landscape? No. It is sandwiched between two high-end art galleries and doors away from Why Not?, a childrens toy store. Will Le Tache make some people feel uncomfortable? Yes. Sex is a personal and intrinsically touchy subject for many, especially any Alexandrians uncomfortable with the stores palpability.
But this store replaces a hunting store, one that sold and traded in firearms. For some, the notion of hunting, or any use of firearms, is as offensive as sex is to others. Across the street is a retailer specializing in harmful tobacco products. Where do we as society draw the line? And for those who might chastise the city for approving Le Taches business license, do we want the city to draw that line for us?
At its base Le Tache is a business. City officials have stressed the importance of small businesses, hailing them as the backbone of Alexandrias economy. The shop went through the citys vetting process for a new business and passed. Like it or not, the city determined that it is a legitimate, tax-paying small business.
While the business may be legitimate, so are the issues it presents for the community. Some parents are concerned with the shops proximity to a toy store. Others worry about tarnishing citys image. In the real world though, a market for the stores products exists even if they are jarring to some.
From its display window on King Street, Le Tache parades an arrangement of lingerie no more blatant than the Victorias Secret store at Pentagon City. Once inside, age identification is required to enter the more adult-oriented portions of the store for those who seek those products. And, while King Street is a prime location for the citys revelers, there is a place more accessible than even Le Tache should any one want to look at such products whether of legal age or not. It is perhaps one of the most unregulated institutions in the world: the Internet.
The issue here is not whether or not one agrees with the products sold at Le Tache. Like any other business in Alexandria, it is the consumer who will ultimately decide if this type of retail shop is appropriate for Old Town. Le Tache will survive, and perhaps even thrive, if there is a market to support it.
Is there enough of an interest in Old Town in adult entertainment products to sustain this type of store? Only time will tell what kind of success Le Tache will have. But the market will play out and perhaps in the process teach the community about ourselves as well.