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Your Neighbourhood Sex Shop

February 12, 2010

I passed the Erotic Boutique today as I was driving home from dropping off a load of empty pizza boxes at the recycling centre. The Erotic Boutique is a sex store, one of those places that sells lickable massage oils, crotchless panties, a variety of artificial sex organs and, probably, porn. There was a big sign in the window: Store Closing, 50% Off Everything.

I didn’t stop. Not because I’m a prude; I went into a sex shop in Toronto once in 1987 and saw an inflatable 300-pound woman being tossed around like a giant beach ball at Lollapalooza. And I did buy the Madonna issue of Penthouse.

No, I didn’t stop because the Erotic Boutique is located at a busy intersection, one of the central axis points of this city, where several major arterial roads meet. In other words, someone you know will be driving by just as you walk out with a suspiciously cylindrical package.

This has been the case in every city I’ve called home: the sex shop is in a prominent spot. In one city, there was one right on the main drag and another between Walmart and the Timmy’s. In another, it was atop a hill, at the busiest intersection in town. In a third, it was across from the library.

Why do they do this? Why do they set up shop in such a way that a spotlight is shined right on them — and on their customers?

The sex industry has taken a pretty major Internet hit in recent years. Those old shops are shutting down, faced with the new reality of online shopping. But you’d think they’d try harder to hold onto their walk-in traffic, and a move to a more out-of-the-way location might help. That way, respectable upstanding members of the community can buy their furry handcuffs and gerbil lube without worrying that their priest might spot them.

This is about as much thought as I want to give to this topic.

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