ST. PAUL, Minn.—One would think that residents of St. Paul would relish not just the idea but also the fact of having an actual brick-and-mortar adult bookshop to help warm the heart’s cockles during the long frigid nights ... and other sorts of cockles, too. But considering St. Paul’s reputation as the conservative of the twin cities, the end of this particular era isn’t such a surprise.
The neighborhood surrounding Denmark was gentrifying, anyway, making Denmark Books not just a novelty—in the original sense of the word—but also kind of an eyesore, especially to some of the neighbors. The landlord told TwinCities.com that the now-gutted store’s time had come.
“It's always kind of been a yin-yang thing—we have the yoga center and then the porn bookstore," said Jeff Austin. "I think in the end, it's kind of good for the neighborhood that it's gone. It's the direction that West Seventh is going in."
Austin himself would like to see a health food restaurant or deli move in to complement the yoga parlor. Apparently sex, which is only aided by immersive exercise regimes like yoga, is not considered as complementary, though Austin said the yoga patrons had no issues with the store.
Still, according to Marc Shulze, who bought the business three years ago, both the stress of running a store whose clientele was moving online and also the hassle of dealing with some of the toughest zoning laws in the state eventually necessitated the decision to shutter.
“The economy was just getting rough," said Shulze, 26, explaining the store’s steady decline in sales. "It just wasn't working anymore. The internet was huge competition. People can go online, pay $10 a month and get unlimited access.”
As far as picking up again, Shulze said he’d have to think long and hard about it even though he loved what he did.
"I know I'm not going to open up another store for a while, if ever. It was a great place to work, because there's really no other occupation where you get paid to sit around and talk about sex all day. But in a way, I'm glad to see it gone," he said. "All the stress of running around and managing employees was getting to me. St. Paul is just so ridiculous with their adult laws. I don't even want to deal with it anymore."
Restrictive laws have also put the kibosh on most of the city’s strip clubs, too, according to TwinCities.com.
“In St. Paul, the only place where women are legally permitted to go [au natural] for cash anymore is the Lamplighter Lounge on Larpenteur Avenue, and there only behind protective stage glass, without ever making physical contact with patrons. Men push tips through a drawer,” wrote Frederick Melo. “Some say that's hardly a surprise, with so much going digital and finding root on the Internet. Others say the naughty clubs and novelty stores have just moved to Minneapolis, where more permissive zoning allows a cluster of such establishments in or near downtown, an area home to 17 adult-themed bars, clubs and entertainment sites.”
It looks as if St. Paul won’t have to worry about those long cold nights as long as its twin is taking care of business. That’s scant solace for Denmark Books, however—the last of its kind.