A professional cuddling business closed its doors in Rifle last month after dealing with harassment from clients and the community.
Aimee Wilshire knew that opening a professional cuddling business in a rural location wasn’t going to be an easy sell.
“I anticipated people would find the idea weird and unusual,” said Wilshire.
What she didn't anticipate were people wanting more than cuddles. Clients were insisting that she make house calls.
"I got quite a few calls of just guys who were kind of abusive about it,” she said.
She knew part of her job was going to be convincing people that the health benefits associated with physical, platonic touching are real and can be used as a form of treatment for people living with mood disorders.
“Human touch reduces the hormones in our body that make us feel stressed or depressed,” Wilshire said.
Wilshire also knew she’d have to justify the concept to a smaller market. Most cuddling businesses pop up in cities like Boulder. But she saw a need for this type of physical therapy in Rifle. And, for the first few months, people were trying it.
“I had quite a few people come in, and they could see the benefit of it,” she explained.
When her store, called Touched, first launched in August, Wilshire told the Glenwood Post Independent that going offsite for clients wouldn’t be an option. She was only comfortable providing care through cuddling in her office because she had cameras installed for everyone’s safety.
“But after a couple months of getting calls, ‘Can you come to my house, I don't want to be seen going there,’ I just thought, I might be able to serve the community better if they could be more anonymous,” Wilshire said.
In November, she closed her brick and mortar location and began making house calls. The thing she said she wouldn’t do. That’s when things got weird.
“The clients got creepy. Without the safety net of the cameras, it just didn't feel safe anymore,” she said.
Wilshire said the entire business became a major turn off for her in the last few months.
“If I had to do anything differently, I would have done it in a different place. Our community is not open to it. At least Rifle isn’t open to a new way of therapy,” she concluded.
Even after everything she’s been through, Wilshire said she’s still fond of hugs. Especially the firm ones that last a while and are given by someone who genuinely cares.