If you’re tempted to take a peek inside the the first Adam and Eve store in Oklahoma, don’t worry – you won’t find forbidden fruit.
Beyond the now-covered windows at 218 E. Main St., where Mitchell’s Jewelry sold its line of designer diamond jewelry, the empty suite is becoming a Garden of Eden of sorts, offering pleasure products and a comfortable place for adult couples to discover romance and erotica.
Married couple Andrew and Lennox Ryerson-Gonzalez, who have been together for 16 years, are the first to franchise in Oklahoma and the 62nd in the nation to own and operate their own store.
“That’s been really exciting for us,” Lennox said. Lennox hails from Maracaibo, a city and municipality in northwestern Venezuela, but became an American citizen after moving to the Unites States in 1984.
Lennox and Andrew decided to begin a new business venture as they accomplished their personal and professional goals while working for the Chickasaw nation at the Riverwind Casino. They were both ready to make a change in their lives and they were interested in owning their own business, the couple said, and they and researched several retailers that appealed to them. That’s when Andrew suggested opening an adult novelty store.
“I’ve always wanted to do something like this. He thought I was kidding. He didn’t realize I was serious,” Andrew said.
The couple attended a Discovery Day event at Adam & Eve corporate headquarters at Hillsborough, North Carolina, and they realized the companies’ values align with theirs.
By 1975, company founders Paul Mueller and Phil Harvey were conducting condom marketing programs in Bangladesh and Kenya; the company still sells birth control and health products in over 60 countries and is prominent in international family planning. In 1989, Harvey launched DKT International (DKT), an organization that promotes family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The couple said the company’s history of philanthropy struck a “positive chord” with them, and the wanted to carry their shared principals into their business venture.
“We were really, really excited about the fact that the corporation does a lot of outreach to third world countries with condom industry distribution and community involvement,” Lennox said.
They have already put their plan to reach the community into motion. Lennox and Andrew, who describe themselves as “body positive” and “sex positive,” will invite therapists and experts to speak at the store on a spectrum of health matters.
“We felt that it would be a really good synergy of letting people know that we’re a store, but we’re also very interested in helping educate the public on safe sex and which products are safe and better to use,” Lennox said.
They were ready to ale their next move. They bought the space and closed on the deal on Feb. 1. They have been conscientious to preserve the integrity of the space, which was built in 1929.
“We love Norman and the downtown area,” Andrew said. “To actually own a historic piece of it is amazing.”
At first, they were hesitant to reveal their plans to open the store to their conservative family members, but now, both sets of parents have given them their blessings. In fact, Lennox said his mother has volunteered to hang lingerie before the store opens.
“Nothing is better than getting the approval of a parent,” Lennox said.
Other family members have promised to stand by their side for their grand opening celebration, which will be scheduled at a later date.
“Our families know exactly what we’re doing and they’re so supportive…We want to be in the public and put out a positive message. There’s nothing to hide and be embarrassed about,” Andrew said.
Other main Street business have also embraced the arrival of new boutique.
“The ladies across the street are ecstatic to find out we were coming here,” Lennox said. “They were giving us fist bumps and saying ‘Man, we need something like that over here in Norman.’”
Their inventory of products will also send a positive message — they will carry lingerie for women of all shapes and sizes; in fact, some of it will be displayed on a curvaceous, fuller-figured mannequin.
“I’m a big guy myself, and I walk into some of these stores and I see all of this skimpy underwear that I know it’s not going to fit me. It really makes you feel unsexy, and we don’t want anyone to walk in here and feel unsexy,” Andrew said.
“So much of the female figure in the media is very objectified and it’s maybe not the most healthy images,” Andrew said. “We want to people to know it’s alright the way you are and to appreciate your body an know they you have a right to feel sexy and feel good about yourself. I don’t think there’s a lot out there that sends that message, and we want to send that message,” Andrew said.
They will have lingerie for women who have undergone prophylactic surgery to remove both breasts (called bilateral prophylactic mastectomy) and transgender individuals, as well.
"That’s something (we haven’t seen represented, and we just want to make sure people know we are hear for them. Everybody is a person and deserves the same dignity— that’s why we want to do this,” Lennox said.
Since owning the building, Lennox and Andrew have worked third o transform the empty space into an upscale boutique. The space has a chic candy-apple red, black scheme and features a chandelier and a waterfall. The boutique will also boast a spacious dressing room with a pedestal and backlights for customers who want to see what some of their clubwear looks like in the dark.
Because they want couples to reignite their passion, they will carry a variety of adult novelties made popular by films like “Fifty Shades of Grey”: Think ties, handcuffs and other sex toys.
“We are hear to enhance the sex lives of of couples — spice it up a little bit.
Everybody has their thing and as long as between consenting adults, and as long as they’re good, game and giving than it’s OK,” Andrew said.
It’s important that customers to feel comfortable in their store, and they want to change what people think when they of stores that sell adult novelties for the better.
“A lot of people are going to come in here with preconceived notions about what they’re going to see,” Lennox said. “That’s going to be shattered away when you walk into a nice, clean store.”
Andrew and Lennox will open their store 7 p.m. on March 26; the following morning, they will invite the public to a “soft opening.”
"It's been exciting all the way around," Lennox said.