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August 31, 2016

Toronto’s Come As You Are Store Closes

TORONTO—Come As You Are, the world’s only worker-owned co-operative sex shop, has closed up shop at its Queen Street West location. While the physical location has shuttered and the online business remains operational, it might not be the last the Queen City has seen of the sex-positive and LGBTQ-friendly store. “Like so many other businesses in Toronto, our lease was up and we just couldn’t justify re-signing for the same rent,” one of the co-op’s employees, Noah Kloeze, told AVN. “We made it to the end of our lease, which was a big relief, but we couldn’t justify the $10,000 a month to continue in this location. The owners discussed it, and decided that we couldn’t sustainably consent to continue here.” The store closed Sunday, Aug. 28. Come As You Are originally opened in a different location in 1997, and immediately stood out for a number of reasons. Aside from being a co-operative, the store also devoted itself to education in addition to pleasure, and hosted workshops, classes and more. The bright colors inside the well-lit space showcased products designed for pleasure and sexual health as opposed to novelties and gag gifts. The store took a feminist yet anti-capitlalist approach to business, and workers never earned commission on sales. For almost 20 years, Come As You Are prided itself on only carrying products the workers believed in and were comfortable selling. The increased costs of operating a mom-and-pop style retail store created a bit of a strain the past few years on Kloeze and Jack Lamon—the only other worker-owner of Come As You Are—but the thriving online business, at ComeAsYouAre.com, helped the store pay the bills and fulfill its lease obligations, Kloeze said. “It’s kind of bittersweet,” he said, adding it’s a relief to no longer have to worry about paying rent, but having that physical space to interact with customers will be missed by employees. “We had a customer write to us and say, ‘I don’t know if this is a situation that calls for condolences, but I am sending them if you think they are needed,’” he said. For now, workers will focus on the online store, which caters to everyone throughout Canada, Kloeze said. Additionally, the search for a new physical store will continue. Kolas said now that there’s no pressure to make the monthly rent payment and there’s no fixed deadline of finding a a new space, Come As You Are can find the perfect location for both workers and customers. There are also plans to focus more on community outreach, he said, since he and Lamon—at least for now—don’t have to dedicate time to staffing a sales floor. “We we find a good location, then we will make a decision on where to go from here,” he said. For more, visit ComeAsYouAre.com. Pictured above: Noah Kloeze (left) and Jack Lamon, worker-owners of Come As You Are in Toronto (Photo by Adam Brewsmith)

 
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