Wilde’s, a popular sex shop and mainstay of Ottawa’s Village district, will be setting up shop in a new location come November. Currently residing at 367 Bank St, where it has been for 19 years, the store will be moving across the street to 386 Bank St, at the corner of Bank and James.
Co-owner Rob Giacobbi says the store was only the second gay business to open up in the area now known as the Village. “When we first set up at this corner, no one would want to set up a business around here. It was a very, very rough area.” Over the years Wilde’s has experienced its share of drama, including a smashed window in 2010 and a series of homophobic threats after a gay history mural went up on the side of the building.
Giacobbi says he’s seen the area change significantly over the years, which he attributes to the gay community embracing the neighbourhood. The city’s official designation of the area as the Village in 2011 and the renewed efficacy of the current BIA have also helped, he says.
At the same time, however, Giacobbi says the Village designation has pushed rents higher, causing businesses like his to look for new locations. “I think it’s been a blessing, but at the other hand, rents are just skyrocketing, and that’s why right now a lot of businesses are moving all over the place.” Sex shop Wicked Wanda’s also recently moved locations, settling in to the space under Barrymore’s Music Hall.
Giacobbi says that Wilde’s move is two-fold — the business also has locations in Mexico, where Giacobbi lives most of the year with his partner. “We wanted to mirror what those stores are like, and we wanted a . . . different kind of space.” The current location is also starting to get old and rundown, he says. The new location is about 800 square feet and will allow the business to focus more on lubricants and toys and to expand their line of products for women.
“This location will also give us the opportunity to become very, very competitive,” Giacobbi says. The new, lowered rent means that customers can expect to see prices drop 25 to 30 percent. It also comes with free parking. “The landlord there was really accommodating. He fulfilled everything we were looking for.”
As one of three sex shops on the street (the other two being Wicked Wanda’s and Venus Envy), Wilde’s has traditionally catered more to a gay male clientele. “Our relationship with Venus Envy and Wicked Wanda’s is — you know what, if I don’t have the product I will gladly send people there. I’ll even send people to price shop — I encourage people to go to the other stores, because I believe there’s room for everybody.”
Giacobbi says he hopes the move will help dispel rumours that the store is closing. He expects the move to take place in mid-November and says grand opening events will take place.