However, this weekend we decided to catch a movie at the Muvico in Centro Ybor and then meet friends for drinks at a few of our old watering holes. With some time to kill after the movie we decide to do a bit of shopping at some of the eclectic and sexually charged shops on 7th.
Our first stop was in Agora. We spent at least half an hour in the shop before we walked out with a bag of treasures. Then we ducked into the next store: Kicks on 7th. We almost always visit this shop when we're in Ybor as it carries many of my favorite playthings: stripper heels, cheap lingerie, and sex toys.
Kicks has a beaded curtain separating the sex toys from the rest of the store. On this occasion the area behind the curtain was dark. Soccer Dad and I peered through the beads to see if the space still contained adult toys.
"I don't know you," the clerk said, approaching us.
Soccer Dad told him that we've been in the shop many times, though not on a regular basis.
"You want to buy a toy?" the clerk asked. Soccer Dad and I looked at each other. "You can't go back there unless you show me the money so I know you are serious about buying something."
This isn't our first time in Ybor. Over the years we have spent enough time drinking in the nightlife to know that it is not a smart idea to carry a lot of cash in Ybor, or to flash that cash around. In all our time in the district, this is the first time I have ever been asked to show my money as a condition of being able to shop somewhere. We stared at the clerk, wondering if we stumbled into a time warp where people only carry cash as opposed to debit cards.
"We've been ripped off a lot recently," the clerk explained. "So I have to see that you have the money before I let you back there."
There were probably five or six other 20-somethings looking at the hookas and other merchandise in the glass cases. None of these people seemed to have waved around their bankrolls before browsing. Although I am no underworld expert the only reason I can think of for why he would want us to flash our cash is if he was selling something illegal in the back room, or if this was just a way of marking targets for muggings.
There is also the possibility that the shop could only afford to hire one clerk to work at a time. If the clerk went in the backroom to help us, this would leave the front of the shop open to shoplifters. If he stayed in the front, sex toy shoppers would be more likely to steal from the back. Flashing him our money may have been a way of pressuring us to buy something from the back.
Needless to say we left the shop without making a purchase or looking at any sex toys. Whatever this request was intended to do, it showed us that Ybor City is still not a good place to walk around with a large bankroll nor is it a good place to shop for sex toys.