212  ConclCLusion
ing the algorithm it used to rank websites. Good Vibrations’ position in search
results for “sex toys” had plummeted from page 1 to page 8 and sales had
dropped along with it. But that wasn’t the only issue affecting the company’s
bottom line. The growing cultural acceptance and mainstreaming of sex toys,
due in large part to the success of Good Vibrations and other sex-­positive re-
tailers, meant that these businesses were now competing with big companies
like Amazon, which, due to economies of scale, could undercut smaller retail-
ers and sell the same products for markedly less. It was also possible for any-
one with a laptop to start an online sex-­ t oy business without the costly over-
head of running a brick-­and-­mortar store. The Internet, once considered a
friend to sex-­positive retailers, now seemed to have become an adversary. And
some wondered what role, if any, mismanagement had played in exacerbating
Good Vibrations’ already shaky financial state.
The situation was so bad that a month before its sale to gva-­twn, Good
Vibrations, in an unusual move, posted a letter to its website outlining its busi-
ness woes and asking for investors to help turn the company around. “Today,
having almost completed our 30th year, we face the need to raise capital
quickly in order to ensure that our business survives in its traditional form,”
board members Carol Queen and Charlie Glickman wrote.1
How ominous were things? A quick visit to Good Vibrations’ website
showed that almost every item was out of stock. The company had virtually
nothing to sell, and it didn’t take an mba to know that the situation was dire.
The sale of Good Vibrations to gva-twn, ­ which was presented in initial
media reports as a merger, offered the sex-­positive retailer a new lease on life,
but it also benefited gva-twn. ­ According to Rondee Kamins, gva-­twn’s
owner, “everything that Good Vibrations is, gva isn’t and everything that
gva is, Good Vibrations isn’t.”2 While gva-­twn would be able to provide
Good Vibrations with much-­ n eeded financial stability and access to inventory,
in turn, Good Vibrations staff had the training and know-­ h ow to help gva-­
twn—which owns dozens of adult stores in the Midwest—retool its business
model in an effort to court the growing women’s and couples’ market. As one
Good Vibrations employee said about the union, “It’s a marriage of two differ-
ent worlds that I think need each other right now.”
But questions remained: Would Good Vibrations continue to be the sex-­
positive, queer-­friendly, and feminist-­oriented business that its customers
knew and loved? And what about its educational mission and outreach efforts?
Was Good Vibrations destined to become the Walmart of sex toys, but with
better politics?
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