Let’s talk about porn

Just briefly…

First, we really look bad as a community that we wait and we wait for a really classy, upscale business like Whole Foods to locate here, and BAM! the only porn superstore in the metropolitan area suddenly materializes right in front of it. Seems like there should be some way for the city to stop this. If we can’t, then private business would have a legitimate beef with the city.

Second, and this is the thing I really wonder about…

Who, in the 21st century, actually needs to go to a physical store to get pornography? I mean, really? Back before spam filters got good, we were all smothering in the stuff in our inboxes. And as things stand now, any kind of porn you can imagine is a few keystrokes away.

OK, so maybe you’re a traditionalist, and you like to own the DVD. Fine. You can still order it on the Internet, with the added bonuses of convenience and privacy.

How does a “superstore” fit into the business model of the porn industry? What is the need for retail outlets? And if it does work for them, what must the markup be?

Basically, this is a problem that has NO reason to be. And yet, we have it, right here in River City…

54 thoughts on “Let’s talk about porn

  1. bud

    I remember the days when the only porn films you’d ever see were at a drive-in theater. We’ve come a long way.

  2. bud

    Not sure the porn store is that much more offensive than the McDonalds across the street with it’s disgusting marketing strategy to lure young children in so they can be tempted with greasy burgers and fries. The whole diabolical scheme is designed to create a nation of fast-food addicts that results in huge profits for McDonalds and a national obesity problem with all that goes with it. What’s worse obesity or obscenity? At least the porn store won’t have happy meals, only happy endings.

  3. `Kathryn Fenner

    City Council candidate Daniel Coble has done some looking and thinks that there may be ways to tighten up our ordinance. The porn store is a “sexually oriented business” or SOB (love the acronym) and can be highly regulated, since there are plenty of data that they cause an increase in crime in their vicinities, but per the Supremes, cannot be zoned away. There are, according to The State, only two areas in Columbia that one could locate an SOB, there and another area the city declined to name, to avoid putting ideas into heads.

  4. Bart

    Recently, a friend was talking about the same thing Brad mentioned. The porn ads appearing unsolicited in emails. He decided to see for himself if what he had been hearing is fact or fiction. What he relayed to me was not a shock but a surprise as to the prolific number of sites out there today. In the millions.

    It seems as if you really don’t need to visit a porn shop because if you are interested, you can watch all your little heart desires for free on the internet.

    I won’t go into the how because there are families who read this blog and ain’t no way I’m going to encourage or give a young person the way to find these sites. Its bad enough they exist, let alone the fact that now they are free as well.

    Miss the old days of Ozzie and Harriet or Father Knows Best. I know it was fantasy land but at least they kept their clothes on.

  5. Matt

    There are still plenty of people with little to no internet access these days. I bet those folks like porn just as much as those with internet. Also, it takes much less savvy to conceal a DVD than to erase one’s browsing data or surf “incognito.”

  6. Brad

    I’m with you, Bart.

    Remember those unsolicited emails that would come in and take over your computer, opening window after window of porn no matter what you tried to do to make it go away? (As I recall, the only remedy was a reboot.)

    Once, 10 or 12 years ago, my wife found our family computer (which we kept in a public area of the house) with all these layers of windows of graphic porn open. She conducted a routine investigation, and our youngest daughter told her all that stuff had started popping up on the screen, and she couldn’t make it go away, and she was too embarrassed to tell us, so she just left the room.

    I assume it’s the spam filters that keep that stuff away now. Whatever it is, I’m appreciative…

  7. `Kathryn Fenner

    My first reaction to this was that it was kid of like having a Pager Superstore, or a Landline Telephone Showroom….Buggy Whips R Us.

    @ Karen–you can get toys on teh innernets, too, and far better selection. πŸ˜‰

  8. Tim

    Easy solution: someone open a church, a school, daycare facility or something nearbye. There is land right next to the Staples.

  9. Steven Davis

    @Bart – Those young people you talk about trying to protect could probably show you sites that you’ve never even thought of. My teenage nephew showed me sites where I can download for free just about any software package (with hacked key), movie, CD, game, etc. that I want.

    Who are we to say what stores can and can not open in Columbia. If it’s a legal product and they’re outside the legal distances from churches, schools, etc. I have no problem with it.

  10. `Kathryn Fenner

    Yes, Tim–I thought of that, too. How about the McDonald’s –You just need a playground! Hey, did I just solve the problem?

  11. Burl Burlingame

    I build model airplanes, and so in the early days of the ‘net I subscribed to several building forums. You can imagine what having “model” attached to your search engine turns up.

    When I discovered that you could access porn on the ‘net without leaving your comfort and privacy of your home, of course I checked it out, like any other mildly curious adult male. But it’s a firehose out there, not a trickle. It also, after a couple of days, got REALLY boring and repetitive, and I’ll bet it still is, but I haven’t been back.

    The only revelatory thing I discovered is that, no matter what mundane thing you do or experience, there’s SOMEBODY out there who thinks its sexually exciting. Jeez Louise! There was even a site where naked ladies popped balloons with lit cigarettes. I suppose it’s not sexy when you laugh out loud at it.

    Driving through Missouri a couple of summers ago, I discovered a curious phenomenon. Porn and firecrackers can’t be sold within town limits. So, precisely ten miles outside every little Missouri town, there’s a “superstore” selling BOTH porn and fireworks, right on the highway. Talk about going out with a bang….

  12. Bill

    Whole Foods is a huge rip-off.Google.

    Porn stores give Rick Perry-types a place to hook up…and that’s ,OK.

  13. Silence

    @ Kathryn,
    I agree that the internet is the way that the “adult novelty & media” business is headed. It’s just my opinion, but the reason that the local stores stay in business is threefold: First, people can pay cash for their purchases, so no embarassing credit card bill or paper trail to explain. Second is the instant gratification. You never know when you might need a giant “massage wand” or an inflatable doll or whatnot. The third is that strippers & women who want to dress like strippers buy clothing and shoes there.
    That’s just a guess though. I haven’t been in an adult store in years.

  14. bud

    If tastefully done without gaudy lights or a big XXX sign I don’t see any big problem with the porn store. No one is forced to go in. I doubt it would create a traffic hazard. Limit entrance to 21+ adults and frankly it would create far less of a rukus than many bars and restaraunts that serve intoxicating beverages. Heck the Applebees just down the street is probably more high risk with all it’s assortment of drinks and high calorie foods. Seems much ado about very little.

  15. Karen McLeod

    @ Kathryn, yeah, but you can’t check them for texture, or be sure you have just the right size for your special other (or yourself). And what if they’re scented?

  16. Steven Davis

    @Tim – How would that change anything? It’s like the condo next to the chicken plant, the plant was there before the condo now those residents are complaining about the smell. I’m guessing they aren’t exactly Mensa members.

  17. Bryan Caskey

    As an initial matter, I think Brad has a good point about a “brick and mortar” porn store being a poor business model. However, someone out there wants to give that business model a try.

    I really don’t care either way, and I have an inherent predisposition against anyone who wants to tell other people what they can and can’t do. It’s not going to stop me from going to Whole Foods once it opens.

    As a rational adult, I’m capable of being in the presence of something (or someone) that I disagree with without having to get rid of it.

  18. Brad

    Doug says “Let the market decide.” Well, that’s the crazy-making thing about this. I thought the market HAD decided. I thought the porn shop business model was more outmoded than, I don’t know, the metropolitan daily newspaper business model.

    And yet here we have someone opening a buggy-whip superstore.

    I get what Silence says about cash transactions. But it seems that would be more than counterbalanced by the fact that you have to do the transaction face-to-face with someone in your community. And you have to pull up to the place in your car, and park, and walk in, at every point exposing yourself to being found out.

    Besides, won’t online porn sites take money orders? Maybe not; I haven’t checked. Maybe I should do some research on this…

  19. bud

    Doug, I’m not sure what “Letting the Market Decide” has to do with this discussion. If the porn store is offensive should it be regulated? That’s the question. Everything can’t be boiled down to the worn out cannard “Let the Market Decide”. If it does get built and it’s successful those who oppose it will think the market decided but failed by creating a nuesance. There are just times when the market is not adequate to properly decide.

  20. Tim

    Not sure it would change anything. I don’t know the grandfathering in this sort of case.

    Re: McDonalds. Google mapped it, and the Churches is 423 feet away by circuitous foot path. As the crow flies, the old Taco Bell is within 500 feet. Don’t know if that counts. Me, I don’t really care, but there is only one or two check cashing places nearby there. Probably could use another one of those.

  21. Steven Davis

    I think opening a porn store is a better business plan than say a fireworks store.

    I think the buggy whip store is a bad idea, I mean that’s a specialty section of the porn stores that caters to these fetishes.

  22. `Kathryn Fenner

    Once more: SOBs statistically do create an increase in crime in their vicinities, thus justifying a higher level of regulation.

    The part about how it makes an area look trashy and downwardly mobile is not a legitimate zoning reason, although I thoroughly sympathize with the nearby residents who worry about cancelling out the Whole Foods bump up. You can require that the business keep it tidy, adhere to sign ordinances, and the like.

    Just today at the gym, people were wondering exactly who would want to be seen, and they would be seen, walking into that place! The market will likely take care of it.

  23. Mark Stewart

    Since these shops will continue to exist, despite Brad’s prediction, wouldn’t it simply be more productive for the city to encourage shops that aren’t so sleazy? Purple exterior paints, neon, 24 hour operation and non-retail locations all scream old school porn.

    In other cities I have seen such places co-exist with national retailers in prime shopping areas. That seems like a better model for the entire community. Place restrictions on the exterior visual impacts of any store or business on its neighborhood; Worry less about what is sold inside.

    I bet the Junior League could run a bang-up business with a tasteful Devine Street corridor storefront that catered to the type of clientele the neighborhood wouldn’t find offensive – themselves.

  24. Lynn

    Either Columbia is going to be a small big city or it will remain a big small town. Food trucks, urban WalMart/retail, adult toy store. These are the fleas that come with the dog of being more urban and metropolitan.
    I mean get over it. What do you’ll think are in all those UPS deliveries! Should we ban/regulate my UPS guy. πŸ˜‰

  25. Burl Burlingame

    I was at a convention in Omaha last summer β€” I should say, 20 miles AWAY from Omaha last summer β€” and the only store within walking distance was an enormous Cabelas hunting goods store. The market decided there all right β€” this place was bigger and grander than most cathedrals I’ve been in.

  26. Mark Stewart

    It really does rub me the wrong way to see a municipality play fast and loose with the rules for political expediency. If someone read the rules, followed the proceedures and obtained the permits than this is yet another example of reactionary overreaching and municipal liability.

    Is the city prepared to pay the costs someone has incurred in opening a business?

    Having different zoning and business license requirements – initiated after the fact – is a tawdry way to run a government. I don’t care what the reason was. Government should be held to the highest standards of fairness in its dealings with the public.

  27. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Mark Stewart–$28 vibrators are more recession proof than $28 candles, eh?

    Actually, yet again, you are the voice of reason, Mark. I agree. It’s the same as the BCB imposing a no camping rule AFTER Occupy decides to protest that way.

  28. Steven Davis

    So it comes down to the yuppy prudes upset that they have to look at this store on their way to Whole Food. Well, get over it and look the other way if you don’t like it. It’s probably these same people who like Lynn stated are getting their products delivered by UPS.

    Is that what people talk about at the gym? Adult book stores? When I was a gym member the talk was more about how long that person has been using a particular machine or station.

  29. bud

    The IT Store on Two Notch Road seems pretty subdued. I haven’t heard much in the way of complaints about that. Maybe this place shouldn’t have brought so much attention to themselves with the purple paint.

  30. Bart

    “…@ Mark Stewart–$28 vibrators are more recession proof than $28 candles, eh?…” Kathryn

    Alright Kathryn, I simply couldn’t resist. How do you know the price of vibrators? Just wondering. πŸ™‚

  31. Steven Davis

    So if a store opens up withing the guidelines the city imposes, and the city disapproves they just change the guidelines and expect the business to pick up and move after the fact. How legal is that? Is the city going to pick up the tab to relocate the business? I hope in two years a cigarette outlet or head shop moves into this location.

  32. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Steven–I am concerned about the ex post facto legislating, but business license rules do change all the time, and that’s why there’s the two year grandfather provision.

  33. Steven Davis

    @Kathryn – So if you spend millions to build a structure in this city, the city council can tell you to relocate in two years if they don’t like what you’re selling. And then they wonder why Main Street is sitting empty. It reminds me when USC’s athletic director refused to let NFL teams conduct pre-season training in Columbia or share a new stadium with a semi-pro baseball team. The decision of one or two people in the right place dictates how things are run. The same goes for the state legislature, McConnell and Leatherman run this state and have for decades.

  34. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Steven–wow, that’s some fast and loose logic you got going there.
    1. A business license is the right to transact a certain business. The structure you might construct would still have plenty of value in almost any case I can imagine. Your due process rights in the case of a business license are probably some reasonable time to amortize your investment in the particular business–and given that most new businesses don’t make it, I’d say you don’t have much of a vested interest in a business license.

    2. Most of Main Street is not sitting empty, except for the office space vacated by SCANA. Indeed, most of Main Street is occupied.

    3. I have no idea and little interest what goes on w/ USC athletics. The baseball stadium had some sort of financing restrictions, if I recall correctly. Pres. Pastides recently said something about revisiting that, anyway.

    4. It’s not the decision of one or two people in the right place as far as the City of Columbia goes, I can tell you. That said, if one persuasive person bothers to show up and convince a majority of council or the relevant board, that seems reasonable to me. After all, I’ve done it. History is made by those who show up.

  35. Mab

    @Steven — ‘Kathryn is full of libtard shi’ite and is only concerned as is appropriate to thatr misplaced focus.

    Where is that blasted Ignore button, Brad?

  36. Steven Davis

    “Most of Main Street is not sitting empty”

    Things have chanced since the last time you drove down that street in 1983.

    Also, you don’t believe that there is a pecking order on the city council (or other local and state governments)? How did Cromartie get away with half of the crap he pulled without intimidating at least 50% of the council?

    If you’re getting your USC information only from Pastides in a Rotary meeting, you’re missing a lot. The man has little respect within the USC community, he’s nothing more than the handpicked continuation of the crooked and bullying Sorenson legacy, except Pastides is about as intimidating as a delicate flower.

  37. `Kathryn Fenner

    Do you people have any idea how hurtful the “tard” suffix is to people who have loved ones who are mentally challenged? Do you even give a cuss?

    The mentally challenged people I have known are certainly a lot kinder than the people who would call them and anyone they disagree with “retards.” Frankly, I’d rather be a “retard” than a mean person.

  38. Doug Ross

    I watch the DIY (Do It Yourself) channel for the same reason others watch porn. It allows me to see people doing things I’ll never do… and with better tools.

  39. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Steven–I WALK down Main Street frequently. You might try it. Get some oxygen to your brain as well as learn something. Might even brighten your mood!

  40. Steven Davis

    Lighten up Kathryn, every label is offensive to someone. “tard” is just what triggers your button. Liberals go about spouting off Neocon as if it’s equal to a Nazi without any problem… I don’t see you whining about that.

  41. Steven Davis

    Why would I walk down Main Street? Do I need a wig or to stop into the Army-Navy store? Maybe I need to stare into empty store windows?

    FYI – I get plenty of oxygen to my brain, me and the dogs do a 2 miles walk every night.

    What would I learn by walking down Main Street? I mean besides not to walk down Main Street.

  42. Scout

    @Steven,

    Subjective labels that describe beliefs that people are free to choose for themselves or not (like neocon, nazi, or liberal), are hardly comparable to a universally acknowledged derogatory term for a disability that one is born with.

    So do you find the label ‘mean person’ offensive?

    I’m with Kathryn on this one.

  43. Kathryn Fenner

    Actually, “tard” has no personal implications.

    I do not equate anything with “Nazi.” It’s sui generis. Just as I do not like it when people equate liberal with totalitarian, I do not equate neocon with Nazi. Nonetheless, one’s political positions are mutable, unlike being mentally challenged, brain-injured….

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