Fetish store Chained Desires to close

Chained Desires, the Mount Vernon shop that has sold whips, BDSM gear, toys, DVDs, and other items to Baltimore's fetish community for 13 years, is set to close.

While co-owner Karen Fricker did mention the changing demographics of the surrounding neighborhood, including the pending closure of the iconic gay bar The Hippo, she cited her hour-and-a-half commute from St. Mary's County and the added work of caring for her 97-year-old father-in-law as reasons for closing up shop.

"Life gives us twists and turns, and right now we're in the middle of a twist," she said as her husband, Fred, who she met 10 years prior when he came in to buy a whip, worked behind the counter on a store computer.

Last Sunday, the store, which looked like it had been pretty well picked over, was open and selling the remaining whips, custom-made leather gear, and other merchandise, some of it already packed away in boxes. Everything, including the fixtures, display cases,  and even the store refrigerator, is for sale. Fricker said she and her husband will put whatever remains on eBay, and once it's gone, it's gone.

Customers ambled in as Fricker talked with City Paper to scour the last of the discounted merchandise, including a man who continued to lightly thwack his wrist with whips to test them. A sign on the counter said prices are negotiable. Kinksters hoping to get one last paddle or piece of leather work can stop by Saturday, the store's final day of operation, from about 9 a.m to 5 p.m., Fricker said.

As for what's next, Fricker said she might do some freelance paralegal work and try her hand at another passion of hers, cooking.

Reflecting on her time with Chained Desires, Fricker seemed proud to be one of the only sex stores in the area catering to the fetish community by selling more than just toys. Listing off the different groups that frequented her business, she said, "It was a clean, friendly, nonthreatening place for people to come and explore their kink. And I'm sorry to be gone, but I'm happy to have served for the last 13 years."

Local kinksters can take solace in this tidbit: Fricker said the investors hoping to revive the famed Baltimore Eagle, who were in earlier in the day to buy some store racks, are planning to bring back the bar's leather shop but expand it to a pansexual audience, serving fetish enthusiasts of all stripes, just as Chained Desires did.

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