It was a fixture in the D.C. gay community for 40 years, but on Oct. 31 The Leather Rack quietly closed. On Nov. 1, it reopened as Adam & Eve, a leather and fetish store catering to both men and women.
''We honor the legacy of The Leather Rack and aspire to live up to its name,'' Russwin Francisco, Adam & Eve's owner said in a press release issued Nov. 1. ''With the new store, we hope to attract a broader customer base regardless of gender, sexual orientation or identity.''
Under its previous identity as The Leather Rack, the store at 1723 Connecticut Ave. NW, in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, served as a hub for the LGBT community since moving there in 1991.
Touted as the ''flagship'' of adult-oriented businesses, the Leather Rack not only provided patrons with leather attire and BDSM-related gear, but established relationships with several community organizations and area bars to support causes important to the District and particularly to the LGBT community.
''The Leather Rack caters to the gay community, and we love them, but we wanted to branch out,'' Francisco tells Metro Weekly. ''We'll continue to be part of the leather community and we'll still participate in events like MAL, but we want people of all genders, regardless of orientation, to be comfortable in the store.''
In another sign that newer residents are gentrifying and changing the face of one of the District's oldest and most prominent ''gay'' neighborhoods, Francisco says that more people, particularly younger heterosexual couples, were coming to the store and shopping for leather or BDSM gear. That, coupled with the growing trend of online vendors experiencing a higher demand for women's gear and accessories, prompted the business to try and capitalize on that demand by offering more merchandise for women and changing its branding to be more inclusive.