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Jul 232011

IN a follow-up to the article referenced in This Post
We are told that the owner of
Maria’s Passion Paradise has toned down her proposed adult shop to one that sells lingerie and candles—“things that make you feel good”. She has no intention of opening a “sex shop” in a residential area. It’s hard to know whether she is modifying her business plan for practical reasons, or whether she is back-pedalling based on the negative reactions she’s received. It’s also hard to evaluate her general business savvy. She already has a store in another city, which she reports isn’t doing well, and appears to be looking to start fresh in Reston.

Turns out the merchants’ association and the condo owners association don’t even want a lingerie shop. They believe such a store doesn’t belong in their community. Eve, the merchants’ association president, is apparently not concerned about the adult nature of the merchandise, but about the quality. She wants the community to reflect excellence.

With her resistance to this business, whether it presents as sexual or sexy, I’m not convinced she’s in a position to evaluate the quality of the merchandise, or the quality of the service provided by having this kind of store.

What I know is that people need this service. People are interested in things that make them feel “good”–that make them feel sexy. The business outlined on the Passion Paradise Web site promotes education, something people really need. I too worry about quality. I want people to be able to get the quality they pay for, or at least know what they’re getting if they don’t pay much. I want people to be able to buy candles and body products free of toxic chemicals. If sex toys and other products are made available (which I think they should be, residential area or no) I want those to be safe and healthy. Does the owner of Maria’s Passion Paradise have these high standards? I really don’t know.

This whole situation is an interesting reflection of how sex can tie into everything else in life. The store owner’s initial plan to open a sex shop featuring aphrodisiac-themed events got people’s attention, and roused their resistance, yet now much of the discussion revolves around what kind of businesses people want to see, and what kinds of changes are necessary to help this fiscally flagging community survive.

You can read the latest installment of this saga, including some eye-opening comments here.

Jul 212011

Local news doesn’t usually look like this.

The Plaza Is No Place for a Passion Paradise store

Local news also doesn’t usually make me so angry.

To summarize (with a little editorializing, of course), an adult store has rented space in this community, which already houses stores, restaurants, condos, and a community center. The businesses and condo owners object. They’re afraid of what children will see through the windows. They believe their plaza is no place for “that kind of store”, which makes me wonder where they think “that kind of store” belongs. Reading between the lines, they think this place will be seedy. The head of the merchants’ association says that people don’t want to see their neighbours coming out of “that kind of a store”. This sounds more like personal fear and objection than professional evaluation.

I know that adult stores have a seedy reputation, sometimes founded and sometimes not. I know that the average person doesn’t know that safe, happy, friendly adult stores exist, such as Babeland in New York and Seattle and Good For Her in Toronto.

What bothers me is the instant judgment, the attitude of “not in our neighbourhood”, and the implied denigration of sexuality.

So I decided to visit the Web site of this Passion paradise, something that should have been included in the article to allow readers to make up their own minds.
Maria’s Passion Paradise

The description of the weekly couples’ events caught my attention: parties featuring education on the importance of foreplay and snacks with reputed aphrodisiac effects. The impression I get is classy, fun, education-focused, playful. It’s not for everyone, of course, but it’s also not wrong, harmful, or degrading.

I didn’t really get a good sense from their Web site of the kinds of products Maria’s Passion Paradise sells. The quality of products sold at adult stores is really important to me. Many sex toys, lubricants, and other fun things have irritating and even harmful ingredients in them. These are the kinds of things I worry about when I hear about an adult store, plus wondering whether the staff will be friendly, knowledgeable, and yes, discreet.

As to the worry over what the store would display in the window that people would be forced to see, it’s my experience that “those kinds of stores” are very sensitive to their public image,
and display things that are enticing but appropriate (such as bath products, scents, lingerie such as that you’d find at Victoria’s Secret, etc).

I understand the expressed discomfort about having children around, but rest assured, unless they go in (which they’re not allowed to do) they won’t see anything they’re not supposed to.

It comes down to people being afraid of what they don’t know, and treating sex as if it is something strange and foreign, not something that is as normal and integral to our everyday lives as cooking, sleeping, and going to work. Adult stores aren’t for everyone, and there’s never any reason for someone to enter one against their will. However, they play an important role in many people’s lives, and I suspect some would be surprised at how interesting, fun, and helpful such a store could be.

I could probably write about this all day, but let’s wrap it up.

Yes, actually, I’d love to see my neighbour come out of “that kind of store”. I would be happy for them that they were exploring and taking care of their sexual needs. Talking about sex, or being in an adult shop for that matter, doesn’t have to be vulgar, or even explicit. Maria’s Passion Paradise looks like it’s neither of these things.

The condo and business owners at the plaza had a meeting the other day. I wonder if they decided to put their personal fears and prejudices aside. Allowing Maria’s Passion Paradise to move in would have only positive social and fiscal effects on this community.