Local businesses offer Richmonders a variety of services, including late-night cookie delivery, palm reading, fast food delivery and now, cuddling. At 1805 Monument Ave., Cuddle RVA is one of the newest businesses to open its doors in the city and offers customers the opportunity to snuggle up with employees.
Mary Tucker, the co-founder of Cuddle RVA, said her business started out with an IndieGoGo campaign where the founders asked people to donate startup money. While they didn’t raise enough to open, which Tucker attributes to running the campaign during the holiday season, she was too excited to put off the opening.
Services for the cuddle spa range from having tea time to just cuddling on a bed.
“Cuddlers and clients will figure out what is going to make the client most happy and relaxed,” Tucker said.
For any of the services offered, there are three important rules. Tucker said that there is no nudity, sexual touching or kissing. Touching is also restricted in areas that a modest bikini could cover.
Sessions cost a dollar a minute with a 30-minute minimum session time. Tucker said that once you hit 90 minutes the rate lowers. In the future, Cuddle RVA hopes to offer a “midday break,” with a 20-minute cuddle offered between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Tucker said that Cuddle RVA has six employees, although they originally only wanted five. She said that around 120 people applied for two open positions. When going through the applicants, Tucker said body type was not something they considered.
“Apart from the fact that it’s illegal probably, it’s just immoral to choose someone based on their body type,” Tucker said. “I could no more hire a heavy person just because they’re heavy than another job should hire a skinny person just because they’re skinny.”
Age, personality and availability vary between the cuddlers, so Tucker said there is someone to fit everyone. Most of the cuddlers are female, with one male cuddler on staff.
While Cuddle RVA is meant for relaxing, they are strict about their policies. Tucker said that sessions are by appointment only, and that clients and employees will meet off-site at a cafe so they can get to know each other better. The two will go over the client contract, explain the rules and procedures and give the Cuddle RVA representative a chance to get to know the client.
“If we don’t get a good feeling of the potential client they don’t become a client,” Tucker said.
Tucker said that Cuddle RVA video records all of their sessions in case an incident happens. The video is stored in another building, so a potential offender cannot destroy the video.
“We have these worst-case scenario protocols in place so that we won’t need them,” Tucker said.
In the future, Cuddle RVA hopes to offer more services, including a movie night. Tucker said that it will not be overnight, but last two to two-and-a-half hours. They will provide drinks and snacks, you can pick out a movie and then cuddle up with one of the employees and watch it.
Tucker said that the main clientele so far has been middle-aged men on their way home from work after a stressful day. Cuddle RVA is busiest around 5 p.m. when people are heading home from work.
There has been a lot of talk about Cuddle RVA online and in real life. Tucker said that she has gotten a lot of positivity during in-person conversations and the negative responses she’s gotten have mainly been online.
“We know it’s not for everyone, nothing in life is,” Tucker said. “It’s okay if you don’t like it, we’re here for the people that do.”
Cuddle RVA is open for business from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tucker said there is one goal they hope to accomplish while in business.
“We just want to relax Richmond one hug at a time,” Tucker said.