The Velvet Lily specializes in some rather spicy merchandise — and we’re not talking about food. Adult aids, pretty lingerie…but while some associate it with sex toys, the Lily takes education and sex-positivity seriously. And after five years, the company was looking for a neighborhood where its message could reach more people than it might on it prior location on Liberties Walk.
Velvet Lily owner/founder Khara Cartagena says, “There’s a lot more going on in the Gayborhood or Midtown Village–I don’t even know what to call it anymore; in New York they call it Midtown Village but I say Gayborhood–there are more interesting restaurants, more interesting shopping. We get closer to the hustle and bustle of hotels.”
The new store is three times the size of the old one and a little bit more expensive, but not that much per square foot. “There’s 20 times the amount of traffic,” she says. “A lot of people from Loews have been coming by.” Hotel guests had heard of the store previously and even called, but they didn’t always make it to Northern Liberties for a visit. Now they do. The store also does business with Hotel Palomar.
The rent in Northern Liberties went up per square foot, but the fees were raised significantly. Very significantly. Cartagena doesn’t want me to use the percentage, but it’s a large one.
As for services, Cartagena is expanding a bit, from courses on sex and aging and pansexuality taught by sex educators with master’s degrees to a male anatomy figure drawing class that can double as a bachelorette party.
The new store’s building is owned by John Wei, who also owns the controversial Church of the Assumption on Spring Garden.