The future of York’s longest-running licensed sex shop is in doubt.
The Adult Shop on Gillygate, trading since 1997, launched an ‘Everything Must Go’ sale this week – and “could close any day”.
However, there is still hope that the store, which employs three people, could carry on, possibly with a new owner.
The shop just had its licence renewed for another year. But it has been struggling to make a profit in recent months.
“But it’s not because of the internet, because that happened years ago,” someone who’s worked there for many years told YorkMix.
“It’s the rising cost of everything. I don’t even turn the lights on fully any more.”
The worker, who didn’t want to be named, said Brexit had also played a part.
“Most of the suppliers are European. When I do an order, it used to take three days for stuff to turn up.
“Then after we left the European Union, it took six weeks just to turn up and half the stuff wasn’t there.
“And the added costs – some things have gone up 400%”
Boost in sales
How had The Adult Shop continued to operate in the age of so much erotic content on the internet?
“It’s a bit like record collecting,” he said. “People like to collect things. Just because corporations want you to stop – diehards keep things alive.”
However, the production of things like adult DVDs is much reduced.
“There were about 20 DVD companies, and now there’s one. For example, gay DVDs, they release one a month – and we could sell 10 to 20 a week.”
Just like in other stores, people go to The Adult Shop because of the personal service. For example, people who order a sex toy off the internet might find it’s too loud to use if they live in a shared house.
At The Adult Shop, they ask to pop the batteries so they can judge how loud it is before buying it.
Interestingly, the shop also saw a boost in sales post-lockdown.
“When we first reopened afterwards, there was a woman who looked like she’d never been in a shop like this,” the member of staff said.
“But she was able to wear a mask and come in incognito – and it’d be normal. When we reopened after Covid, the amount of people who came in and bought vibrators, dildos and all the rest was just unbelievable.”
But that post-Covid bounce hasn’t been enough to make the store viable.
In the ‘Everything Must Go’ sale that has just been launched, there’s a third off the majority of stock.
“It could be any day that we close,” he said. Yet The Adult Shop still might get a reprieve. One of its suppliers has taken over other similar stores in the past. Or another buyer could step in.
If not, another landmark of York retailing could disappear, 26 years after opening.
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