It’s a Christmas miracle!
Bowing to pressure from parents, the owner of Mill Basin’s newest sex shop says he won’t lift his gate until kids attending nearby PS 203 are safely home from school — that way they won’t get a chance to peep at his products.
The Adult Zone opened on Utica Avenue between avenues L and M on Dec. 14 to moans and groans from officials at the school, located just around the corner on Avenue M at E. 51st Street, who passed out fliers alerting the community to its presence — and attacking its existence.
“The owner is not sensitive to the children and families that pass by at all,” the flier read, promising that a petition demanding the store’s closure will soon follow. “Many residents do not want a store selling such merchandise in our community.”
The flier went on to say that residents are taking exception to the store’s “lack of discretion” — but the owner says he’s being as discreet as possible — and has even changed his business plan to placate the parents.
“I keep lewd things out of the window,” said the owner, who, fearing reprisals, would only identify himself as Star. “But all the kids will see is the gate down because I’m not going to be open when they go back and forth to school.”
Star said he originally planned to open his store at 1 pm, but pushed it back to 3:30 pm after a visit from PS 203’s parents association.
Either way, some residents say a sex shop doesn’t belong in the neighborhood.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to have a store like that here,” senior Geraldine O’Dwyer, 68, told us as she passed the store, looking up at its pink canopy.
Local elected officials also say they want to ensure the store has the legal right to exist.
“We’ve gotten a number of complaints and I have assurances that the police and the Department of Buildings are going to inspect the location,” said Councilman Lew Fidler (D-Marine Park). “If it’s not legal, we’ll shut it down.”
According to a city law that sought to move X-rated video and book stores out of residential neighborhoods, a store isn’t considered “adult” unless 60 percent of its merchandise is “adult material.” The Department of Buildings is responsible for enforcing the law.
Star says the products he sells are geared to couples and “help promote sexual health.”
“There’s no peep shows and I have very few videos,” he said.
A tour of the place confirmed his claims: Once you’re buzzed in (yes, you need to be buzzed in) the first thing you notice is that everything is festooned in white and pink. Most of the shelves are filled with massage oils, lubricants, lingerie, vibrators and condoms. The “racier” items — dildos, penis-rings, butt plugs, sex dolls and X-rated movies — are kept in the back.
“I’d say that about 30 percent of my stuff [is X-rated],” he said. “I’ve been in this neighborhood since 1983 and I want to do everything I can to accommodate the community … except close.”
Star is not the first person to bring an adult-themed store to the area. An X-rated video store has been on Flatbush Avenue between Avenues S and T for years.