When you ask Dan Snyder what attracted him to the leather and fetish community, he boils it down to one word: “curiosity.”
“Probably the very first experience that piqued my curiosity would have been my first trip to the DC Eagle, where I actually got to see guys in their gear,” says Snyder, owner of TrickBox, a boutique specializing in sports and fetish gear popular among members of D.C.’s leather, kink and BDSM communities.
“That would have been around 1990, sneaking into the city with my fake ID to go to the bars,” says Snyder, who was raised in the Falls Church-Arlington area. “I grew up with some of those images: The Village People, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, those guys who did the leather thing. And I certainly was excited by those images, that uber-masculinity. And seeing it in the bar for the first time was stimulation overload, because it’s just right there in front of you.”
After years of personal exploration, Snyder found his niche: sports gear, particularly wrestling singlets. But traditional fetish stores mostly focused on leather harnesses, uniforms and other clothing, not really catering to that side of the fetish spectrum.
“The gear side of things was always interesting to me, and there was enough of a community to support a store focused on wearable gear,” Snyder says. It’s motivated him to end his career as a hairstylist and start his own business in 2014. “Just like anyone who enjoys shopping, you want to see new, different things. Everything I have here in the store can be ordered online, but that’s not really fun, when you can’t touch it, try it on, smell it.”
It’s that personal touch and human interaction that sets Snyder’s TrickBox apart from an online vendor. Using his relationships with members of D.C.’s fetish community, including several local fetish and BDSM clubs, Snyder has been able to promote his store through word of mouth and social media. Because the community is fairly tight-knit, when satisfied customers have made recommendations to close friends it’s helped TrickBox grow its profile and attract new business.
While some people have urged Snyder to expand his offerings to include custom-tailored leather gear, he has no plans at the moment to introduce any, as he wouldn’t have as much control over the final product.
“It would take me away from what I’m trying to do in the first place,” Snyder says. “What I am offering is a good experience. The fact that people can come here and try stuff on, and that I can make them comfortable, drop the dark curtains and painted windows, and just make it a fun place to come in, check stuff out and ask questions.”
TrickBox is located at 2300 Rhode Island Ave. NE and is open from 1 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, call 202-248-1192 or visit trickboxdc.com.