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Touching All the Senses

New Old Town shop has more than just lingerie.

Looking to touch each of your Valentine's senses this year? Then stop by Romance for the Senses, a new lingerie and gift store on upper King Street.

Walking into the store, one finds something for every sense. There are candles to smell, chocolates to taste, music CDs to listen to and lingerie and jewelry to see and feel.

For Valentine's Day, shoppers can buy one of the nightgowns with cupids or pink pom-poms. Add some chocolates, candles or a piece of jewelry and it will sure to be a perfect present. Or, pick up one of the gift baskets already assembled by owner Torun Walker, a first-time business owner. While she's had some retail management background, this is Walker's first time owning a store.

"It's quite a leap, but we're having such a good time." she said. "I spent about eight months researching and developing my business plan. There's nothing out there [to compete]."

Walker was thrilled when she found the space that was newly renovated by Gallerie Michele owner Michele Richardson.

"We're so lucky to have found the space," said Walker, who set about creating a space that inspires romance. She has nicely grouped racks of lingerie by colors, lines and types. Gift items and a jewelry case are up front. Deborah Hall, store manager, said that they have 35 different lines. The most popular items so far are the camisole and panty sets. They carry swimwear year round, and sell accessories such as lingerie laundry bags and hosiery. There's even a small men's section with silk boxers and robes.

"We have a fantastic maternity and nursing section — it's nice to have something beautiful to wear when you're nursing," said Hall. "Old Town needed an upscale lingerie store."

Laura Riccio agrees. She lives in Old Town and work in Washington, D.C. She said that on the weekends she likes to try and run all her errands in Old Town.

"Before Romance for the Senses opened, there wasn't any place for lingerie, sleepwear, swimwear, or fine hosiery. It's much nicer items than at the shopping malls and it's more convenient," said Riccio.

"The shop is so beautiful as well as everything in it. It's hard to miss the beautiful windows when walking or driving down King Street. The selections are so much nicer than anything at Victoria's Secret or department stores but the prices are pretty comparable so I feel like I'm getting something beautiful and unique. There is such a wide range of styles and prices that I seem to always walk out of the shop with something," she said.

"Torun and Deb are so helpful and knowledgeable and make such excellent recommendations. It's that personalized touch and focus on customer service that sets them apart. And they have great and unique and pretty things for gifts like jewelry, for when I'm not shopping for myself," said Riccio.

RICCIO IS ONE OF MANY who have made Romance for the Senses a regular stop. With the store open less than three months, they have done very well. They had a great holiday season and Hall said, "We have very loyal followers already. We've had such a wonderful reception — it's all been word of mouth."

Linda Cole is a regular shopper. She said, "I love their stuff. It changes all the time. That's what I like. And now they have a sales rack. They're really nice in there; it's like no other lingerie store — better quality than anything else around. I'm really happy with it. They have a wide variety and good prices."

Helen Dorsey said, "I'm the most satisfied customer. I was walking down the streets of Old Town one day, and said, 'What's that store?' I can't believe it's here. I've been back six times. I used to go to [a store in] Annapolis, but this has a much better selection, and they [management] are very helpful."

In addition to lingerie, Dorsey has also purchased a bracelet and candies.

It's not just the customer service that sets Romance for the Senses apart. Hall said that they're dog-friendly and stroller-friendly. They also are available after hours for private parties, i.e. showers or lady's nights.

This Thursday, Feb. 12, from 5-9 p.m., the store will host a "Men's Shopping Night." Men will enjoy refreshments and get advice on what to buy for that special someone. On Saturday, Feb. 14, [Valentineís Day], Cynthia Hacinli and Bill Connor, authors of "Romantic Days and Nights in Washington, D.C.," will be on hand to talk to customers.