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Home > Features > ABS Insider Reveals: Rating the Customer

by Grumpybear

I constantly read postings here at CRUISING for SEX from people as to their success and failure in cruising the adult bookstore (ABS for short). Readers rate stores and provide comments, but how do you rate as a customer? I think you will find this article interesting and helpful in your next ABS visit.

I'm not an expert, but I have been managing stores for over twenty years, and regional manager for an ABS chain for 15 years. The next to last thing a store owner wants to do is throw out a customer and lose his money. However, the absolute worst thing he wants is to get closed down, lose his business and livelihood, or even worse get sent to jail.

While store policies aren't meant to be anti-gay, they can seem to be. Policies are usually based on the local laws and regulations of your area. The manager walks a thin line between catering to the needs of his customers and keeping local law enforcement and politicians off his ass. Thus what may be overlooked in one town, can't be in the next. Especially in the first few years, legal defense is one of the highest expenses for the newly opened ABS.

"Remember, this is a business with overhead and payroll expenses to cover, not a non-profit club open for your amusement. At our stores, the two most important rules are don't lurk in a video booth without a movie playing and don't stand in the hallway."

The first area of friction between ABS customers and the local community is the parking lot. Just because it is an adult establishment doesn't mean local laws against public sex and exposure are voided. True, cops generally respond worse to two guys sucking dick in the parking lot than a cute male-female couple, but that is not the fault of the store owner. Stalking the parking lot gets the neighbors nervous enough to call the cops. Also, some potential customers won't stop, worried that the strange car staking out the parking lot is either an undercover cop or a gay basher waiting for a victim. Plus if you are lucky enough to score in the parking lot, you stop the customer from entering the store and spending money. For all these reasons the ABS looks at lurkers in the parking lot as an excuse for someone to call the cops and a loss of business. If you're a cheap bastard trying to get off without spending a dime, go cruise the rest areas supported by your tax dollars!

Once you get inside the store, be reasonable. Don't spend an hour looking at toys and videos when you have no intentions of buying anything. It may be a convenient way to cover your stalling till something hot comes in, but it ties up the clerk's time, too. With the economy in the tank, more chores have to be done by fewer staff. Stocking shelves, checking inventory, cleaning and dusting, and controlling inventory loss are important demands on a clerk's time. Frankly, as a minimum wage employee without benefits, he may just want to relax between chores with a little TV. Even worse is when the clerk has to delay going to the bathroom for an hour while you casually browse, and then you leave with the "I wasn't really looking for anything" shrug.

It is in the video booth area that most conflicts occur between clerks and their customers. Remember, this is a business with overhead and payroll expenses to cover, not a non-profit club open for your amusement. At our stores, the two most important rules are don't lurk in a video booth without a movie playing and don't stand in the hallway. New York State and other jurisdictions have laws prohibiting the construction of any building, room or concealing structure (fence, hedge, etc.) to facilitate loitering for sexual purposes. It's usually found in the vice laws as a way to combat prostitution, but it is used against the ABS, too. It's not always the money making concern of the clerk when he advises you to "drop some money" in the booth; he doesn't want the cops making an arrest in the store. Secondly, standing in the hall scares some paying customers away. A lot of straight guys go into the booth area to watch the movies. The idea of getting their straight dick sucked comes after they get excited. It can be intimidating to walk into the booth area with other guys watching you. Remember, not only does it drive paying business out of the booths, it removes a lot of soon-to-be horny dick. In most areas, blockage of the hallway is also a fire code violation. While a cop might cite the ABS or clerk for violations, the fire marshal will close the area immediately and until further notice.

Once you get in the booth, be respectful of other people. If you are turned down, accept it. Something else will come along. I can't count the number of times, some crying queen comes up to complain that somebody is doing something in the next booth, and I know they are only mad because they are not getting in on it. Don't think that the laws of public decency are exempt either. If you are exposing your dick with the door open or engaging in sex in the middle of the hallway, you can be arrested and the store owner can not stop the arrest because it is a public area. In one of our stores, local law requires walls between booths to be one piece of unperforated steel. The smallest hole you might "innocently" drill requires the entire wall to be replaced. At another store, we can have windows between booths, but they must have a glass barrier. If the barrier is broken or removed, both booths must be closed until repaired.

While I have no problem with two guys in a booth together as long as they are paying for the booth use and keeping it private (or semi-private with the window visor open); I do not permit three guys in a booth. While I can't afford to run the booth area on a 2/3rds reduction in income, I am more concerned with damage. Every time a glass screen has been broken, or a door damaged, or a seat destroyed, or a TV monitor knocked off the shelf; it has been because there were three guys in a broom closet space trying to have sex. Your small amount of booth rental does not cover such damages.

I'm old, bald, ugly and overweight, yet I get asked to come down and keep someone company several times a day. I can only imagine what it is like for a cute, young clerk. While I might be flattered, I have to decline. I can't leave the sales floor unsupervised. Enough shoplifting goes on while I'm watching! Also, even if there are no other customers in the store, how far do you think we would get before someone walks into the store -- constant frustration. Plus, it's awful hard to enforce the rules with someone you were just sucking off.

Lastly, this store is my only employer. If it gets closed because of customers' misbehaving, I'm without a job or a paycheck. When there was a change of political parties in one town we had been in for decades, we were suddenly subjected to constant police operations. Based on the actions of a few uncaring customers, the city seized the building for a period of one year as a public nuisance. They actually drilled holes into the side of the building to install metal barriers on all the doors secured with locks for which they retained the keys. They would not even allow us to enter the building to remove our inventory or shut off the lights for the first few months. And worse, after driving us out of town, they had the balls to cite us and fine us later in the winter months for not removing the snow in front of the building quick enough, a task that is awful hard to do without employees. When we went to court to try to reopen, not one of the hundreds of "regular" customers would stand up in our defense. People will defend your right of access to porn, but apparently only if they don't actually have to say so.

Be aware that sometimes clerks change attitudes because of rumors of undercover cops, local pressure just before an election, or like many of you, they are having a bad day. My worst day was when one of our regulars was making eyes at a new customer and trying to lure him back into the booths for a little fuckee-suckee. I tried to warn him away without success. I finally had to warn the regular that he was an unwelcome loiterer. Why you ask? Because that wasn't a new customer, he was the Chairman of the Town Council on an inspection to see if there were legal grounds to close us down.

Come down to the ABS, support it financially including paying for the service of the booths. Don't be a pest rearranging the shelf displays to cover your stalling and distracting the clerk while shoplifters fill their pockets. Treat other customers and the store's equipment with respect. If you think an ABS should be non-profit orientated, set up your own store. I'll come by and buy your inventory at a distressed rate when you go out of business.

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