by Rachel Swan
Anyone who remembers the flap about Feelmore510 might think the same fate has befallen Good Vibrations, the Everest of "sex positive" retailers, which is currently trying to open a shop on Lakeshore Avenue. But it's actually a little different this time. Whereas Feelmore vied for a storefront on 17th and Telegraph, close to Youth Radio and Oakland School of the Arts, but far from, say, toy stores, yogurt shops, city parks, and other places where little kids dwell. This location, in contrast, is smack in the middle of what many people describe as a "family friendly" corridor of Lake Merritt, about 500 feet from a park, and cheek-by-jowl with a lot of businesses that serve the very young (including, yes, toy stores — the G-rated kind).
Good Vibes characterizes itself as a well-reputed, highly educational, un-seedy, fairly discreet business that could adapt to any retail environment, and representatives say there's really no cause for concern. But try telling that to opponents like Stephen Duffy, who said he actually is a Good Vibes customer, but still thinks the shop would be better-suited somewhere else. "The fact is, who wants to bump into their neighbor inside a sex shop, let alone be seen by hundreds of other locals?" Duffy queried, in a letter to city planner David Valeska.
Tomorrow night the planning commission will decide whether or not to approve Good Vibes' application for a major conditional use permit to operate on 3211 Lakeshore Avenue. We'll see whether sexual liberation jibes with the city's long-term business goals.