Lotions & potions
Gilroy novelty store caters to couples
The Jack Rabbit brand adult toys—the basic line of which comes in red, blue, yellow, and purple—are the most popular pleasure-enhancing gadgets sold at the Lover’s Outlet, an adult store the size of a Payless Shoe outlet. You’d never tell just by driving by, but inside the nondescript walls, is a brightly lit 2,000-square-foot space, its aisles brimming with more than 5,000 items—some of the wildest gifts you can imagine—and some more you probably can’t imagine. Located just past the actual Outlets, it’s like an amusement park for the wild at heart.
For the more tame of heart, there are massage candles, oils, adult games, and edible lotions in enticing flavors: pina colada, chocolate cherry, raspberry, green apple, and peach.
On the friskier side of love, head to the Fetish Department at the back of the store, displaying bondage chairs, door swings, doggie harnesses, gags (not jokes, but the things you would put on a hostage’s mouth), bed-binding restraint kits, inflatable ball gags, and the ever-popular nipple clamps.
Store owner Justine Overmyer, who is originally from Sheffield, England, says that when she opened in December of 2013 people were hesitant to shop there.
“I think a lot of these stores have a bad reputation, and I don’t think it should be that way,” she says. “There are still people who will come in, or men will come in, and their wives don’t want to come in, and that’s hard for me, because I’m like, bring them in, it’s not what they think, let them look around.”
A newcomer to the store was pleasantly surprised with his recent discovery.
“I think I might spend too much time here,” said the young 20-something man, wearing a ball cap and jeans, who identified himself as “Dark Temptation.” “I saw the mannequin, and I’m really into mannequins, and I’m like ‘oh, can I buy the mannequin?’”
After making his way to the Fetish section he was all set.
“This one’s the silky sash from Sex Mischief, and this is a black satin blindfold. I don’t want people to see, and I don’t want them to move,” he says.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” has legitimized the kinds of fantasies once kept hidden, based on the number of adult novelties sold here, such as the silk tie-ups, feather crops, whips, and paddles.
“I think I just like the large amount of variety, really, they have a lot of different things, and I like that you can get them all in one place,” says a dark-haired woman in her mid 30s, who declined to give her name, but agrees that the movie has made the topics of S&M and bondage much more socially acceptable.
Overmyer, 41, wanted to keep the store wholesome—or as wholesome as is possible for a store that sells boob-shaped pasta—since she has two children, a son, 17, and a daughter, 12.
“They both do know what I do. That was also a reason I wanted to keep things tasteful,” says Overmyer, who grew up in an environment where everyone’s opinions were honored and respected, as long as you weren’t hurting anyone.
“We wanted a place where people could come and feel comfortable shopping for any kind of sexual wellness product, marital aids, and we wanted it to be friendly, approachable,” she says.
In three short years the customer base has reached beyond Gilroy, proof that Overmyer’s approach is working.
“We get people from Monterey to Los Banos. We get a lot of people because most of the [sex] shops are what you expect. You come in here, and it’s like, ‘wow,’” says employee Tammi Flores, who encourages new customers to, “come in, take a look around.”
The location of the store was the draw for a recent newcomer, a middle-aged woman who was accompanied by her husband.
“I like it. It’s clean and it’s neat, and it’s organized. It’s not in a kind of shady area where [sex stores] sometimes are,” says the woman, who identified herself as “Married and Having Fun.”
The shop’s toys cross over to another organ—the stomach. It sells edibles, including food, like pasta boobs and “Macaweenie and Cheese.” Yup, those are a hit at bachelorette parties, as are pecker piñatas and vibrating lipstick garters.
For fans of the TV show Dexter, the white spandex five-hole hood, with matching vinyl apron and latex gloves, is a must have.
One local customer, a young lady who was accompanied by her companion that declined to be interviewed, wishes she would have discovered the store sooner.
“I was surprised that there was a store like this in Gilroy, because I had been going to San Jose for a long time,” she says.
The idea of opening an adult-themed store always appealed to Overmyer, who made her way to California after striking up a kinship with her neighbor’s cousin who lived in California.
“I was 19 and I had a vision, of kind of the California beaches, and I landed in Gilroy,” says Overmyer.
“But to take that leap, to actually do it, is different from actually thinking about it,” she says.
Overmyer knew the time was right, after discovering Gilroy’s only other adult store, Simply Romance, had closed because of the owner’s ailing health.
August 2013 she signed the lease and spent the next four months renovating the store before applying for the business license.
When she did, she was told this type of business fell under the same category as liquor stores, and smoke shops, and she would need to go to the Gilroy police department.
“I actually had to get fingerprinted, and do a background check.”
“I went through everything with the city, and opened the business, and then the city came back and said, ‘You need your CUP’.”
The conditional use permit, or CUP, is a public notification to the community displayed on the premises, describing the business.
Unfortunately, Overmyer wasn’t notified of the requirement before she opened. She only found out when she received a notice from the city regarding a complaint from the former general manager of the Gilroy Premium Outlets who didn’t like the use of the word outlets in the name. It could be confusing, manager Jeannie Omel told the city in 2014, but nothing further came of the complaint.
Overmyer complied with the city, which allowed her to remain open if she displayed signage on the storefront during the interim leading up to the community meeting where the complaint would be addressed.
Even amidst the confusion and lack of communication, Overmyer says she has, “no ill will against the city of Gilroy,” adding, “There was never anybody putting up roadblocks.”
Now, with Valentine’s Day nearly here, Overmyer wants people to, “come in and see the store, check it out, try something new, and keep an open mind.”
The Lover’s Outlet is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday, noon-5 p.m.
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