"A Woman's Touch" comes to Milwaukee
A Woman's Touch, a new sensual gift shop that opened in the Third Ward this weekend, is as discreet inside as it is outside. Located on the ground floor of an office building at 200 N. Jefferson St., there isn't a buzzing neon sign or a plethora of pick-ups parked in front. No, it's definitely not that kind of shop.
"We classify ourselves as a sexuality resource center where people can find pleasure in all of its forms," says social worker and co-owner Ellen Barnard.
Barnard and partner, physician Myrtle Wilhite, opened their first business in Madison 10 years ago, also called A Woman's Touch. After a decade of success and scores of Milwaukee customers requesting a closer-to-home location, the women decided to open another one in the Third Ward.
Is downtown Milwaukee too conservative for such a shop? Not according to Barnard.
"Believe it or not, we're a really conservative and tame business," she says. "If you walk in here, you'll see lingerie, cards and earrings. Plus, everybody has sex whether conservative or not."
The open, well-lit space is sensitively divided in a way that the more-bashful customers can browse unique greeting cards, oils, tasteful lingerie and gorgeous earrings -- without sporting a single blush. Meanwhile, sassier shoppers will appreciate the surrounding spaces, chock full of books, movies and battery-operated baubles. (This shopper's favorites? The Turbo Twinkle, Hula Hottie and the one disguised as a cell phone.)
"We do sell toys and movies, but we come at it really differently (than porn shops.) We have a very limited movie selection, all of which have been screened by sex therapists and are well-made, not offensive and definitely appropriate for women," says Barnard.
Despite the female-friendly products and store name, Barnard says 40 percent of her clientele in the Madison shop is male. It's no wonder. The comprehensive condom display, complete with a blown-up example of each brand, is enough to keep the menfolk courting on a regular basis.
A Woman's Touch provides free brochures on a bevy of sex-related subjects, from keggles to pregnancy sex. Another nice touch is that all of the "toys" are displayed alongside a tastefully written information card describing the bells and whistles of the playful product.
Barnard says she plans to add more education and outreach aspects to her business once she and her partner master day-to-day operations.
"Our focus is on helping people maintain healthy, long-term relationships," she says.
A Woman's Touch is open Monday, Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Tuesdday, Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m. - 8 p.m., and Sunday Noon - 5 p.m. For more information, call (414) 221-0400
Amanda said: In response to the prior comments made, there was nothing said in the article that should do anyone an "harm" as you seem to assume it should cause. At the same time, I will now make an assumption. My assumption being that if this article was not written, you might raise a large stink about why the newpapers didn't tell that "such a place" is now in existance. Newspapers, by the way, were devised to inform the public of news. News that may not appeal to everyone in the same way. I don't want to hear about the war or crime in Milwaukee where children are being shot and killed. However, I'm not going to insult the person writing the article as being immoral for writing it. If children are raised in a responsible manner, one well written and informitive article, (no matter what one individual may think of it) should cause no harm. If a person, who is old enough to search online or read the paper, has moral foundations so weak that their brains explode and they run screaming into the streets after reading said article, well you may need to look in the mirror for a more likley source to that problem.
E.O. said: Milwaukee is a wonderful city and I think it is great that we now have 2 sex positive shops like this.
f.l. said: I think it's great Milwaukee is now the host to TWO women friendly sex shops. First the Tool Shed, a hip, cute, diverse shop in the River West neighborhood and now a Women's Touch downtown. Promoting healthy sexual living is nothing but progressive and exciting~ bringing Milwaukee up to speed with most other major cities. I for one am glad I can visit the Tool Shed and not some sleezy porn shop out in the burbs.
Tara said: Since this article is about "A Woman's Touch", I think it's only fair to comment on that shop, not on others. Milwaukee is a large, diverse city, and there is room for many different shops that celebrate pleasure of all kinds (after all, there are an awful lot of shoe stores & restaurants - pleasures of a different sort). I've been to both shops, and they both have their charms. So enjoy what each one does well, and stop criticizing. A Woman's Touch is an excellent sexual health resource, they have great lingerie to fit even big girls like me, their jewelry makes me feel beautiful, and their store is spacious and inviting. The Tool Shed is tiny, funky, has a sweet, if little selection, and is great if you're confident about what you want and like. So stop attacking, and be happy that Milwaukee is getting such a bounty of fun places to shop.
Susan G. said: I am a local buisiness owner and want to support LOCAL buisiness. Why would I want to support madison buisiness when there is a locally owned option. The Tool Shed has an awsome selection and can answer all of your questions. They also avoid selling jelly products. I don't know them personally but those ladies are a great Milwaukee resource.
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