The stretch of beach-town retail fronts in the area of the OC where Condom Revolution is located doesn' immediately scream "sex zone" to the casual passerby — a Borders here, a movie theater there ... pretty much an upscale, family-type commerce district.
But stroll inside the Hot Topic-meets-Victoria's Secret looking ConRev, and you'l quickly realize that you're not in Kansas anymore, kiddo. And you might want to cover Toto's eyes.
Not that ConRev is new to the area, mind you; it previously occupied a much smaller space — about 1,000 square feet — just a few doors down in the same shopping strip, where it enjoyed a fruitful 14-year run before upgrading to its new, nearly 5,000-square-foot digs.
ConRev was acquired three years ago by Peekay, Inc., and has two other locations, in San Clemente and Huntington Beach, with another soon to open in Long Beach.
"We wanted to step it up a notch," Peekay CFO Kris Butt told ANB as the sun set on the store's grand re-opening day, a Friday in mid-April that kicked off a full weekend of festivities. "This is an edgy community — you know, the beach community, they're out there to see something edgy and different, and we wanted to bring them something that was really different in the marketplace. Not be like a dirty bookstore, but a place where they can come in and feel comfortable about their sexuality, learn what they want to learn, get every product that is out there that's a quality product. We're pretty picky about what we bring in."
That's abundantly evident from the very look of the store, with its goth-opulent chandeliers, ornate vine-and-gargoyle motifs, and high-end flat-screen video displays embedded into the walls. This is not a place where you'd expect to find anything but the very best, as exemplified by the veritable who's who of company reps who showed up on opening day to lend support and pass out free samples. Execs from Topco, Sportsheets, Tantus, Pjur, Dreamgirl, Astroglide, and JO, among others, seemed as impressed with the store's merchandising and design as the awestruck customers who mingled among them.
Palpably enthused about how the day had gone thus far was "video specialist" Robbie Anthony, who came to the store less than a year ago from — if you can believe this — Disneyland, and clearly loves it there. "It's been hectic, it's been busy, it's been fantastic," Anthony effused. "When you have this much energy going through, it's nothing but positive energy, and it's been great seeing all the different vendors from different toy companies, different studios. It's really cool just to see your whole industry come together as a whole to support you, and you get that cool energy vibe. You just want to go, 'eah! Sex! Alright!'quot;
Anthony was particularly looking forward to returning the next day for the signing appearance of rebel porn princess Joanna Angel, who told AVN afterwards, "It's my favorite adult store. I'e done signings at plenty of stores, and sometimes, adult video stores are just not very happy places to be. But this one's a happy place. From the staff to the way the store was decorated, to everything about it. It was definitely the most legitimate place I'e been in. [It] was really cool. I felt like I fit in there."
Butt echoed Anthony's thoughts about opening day, saying, "It's really nice to see the vendors that have been to all the other stores come in and say, 'ow, we really appreciate your store. You're upping the bar in the industry.'quot;
And they're upping it in more ways than just the presentation. In order to become a ConRev store employee, Butt explained, "they have three different tests they go through, and it's called an 'rotic specialist.'And we're testing them [on] the gamut of all the products, and until they pass those three tests, they basically can' be in the 'dungeon'selling our adult toys. Because they don' know enough, they don' know everything that a consumer could ask."
One area where the Costa Mesa ConRev does come up a tad limited is the video section, due to zoning ordinances. "In this particular location, the city only allows us 30 percent of square footage," Butt elucidated. "But we'e got ’em pretty deep. We'e pushed the limit there." As to the trend occurring throughout the marketplace of adult retailers making themselves over with similarly opulent, boutique-like aesthetics, Butt laughed, "They're copying us! I mean, the consumers want the goods, and we just have to present it in an appealing manner. We like to think of ourselves as good retailers … we're not just adult retailers, we're retailers. So we have to be good."
The new Condom Revolution is located at 1777 Newport Blvd. #B, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. Tel: 949.646.1967. Website: conrev.com.