10/08/2013 02:29 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Why I Said No to Reality TV

Like many (most?) small business owners, I welcome pretty much any publicity my shop can get. So when I got a call from a reality tv show producer earlier this week, I was all ears. She was looking for a family/woman-owned sex shop to film a series (she said "like La Ink!") and I was intrigued. I think what we do at Early to Bed is cool. I think it is unique and I'd love to share that far and wide. But I was a little worried. There is not a lot of reality TV style drama here (thank goodness) and I didn't want us misrepresented. I shared my concerns but the producer really seemed "get" me and our mission, so she told me to talk to my staff and we'd Sykpe on friday to talk more.

The past couple of days I've been distracted thinking about this. My staff, whose opinion I sought , was not gung-ho but no one said they'd quit. I started dreaming about being "that" sex shop everyone had heard of on TV. I was doing equations in my head: "so maybe having a film crew in the shop would drive away X number of people but the show would bring in XX number of people and we'd come out ahead. And then we'd have more money and we could do new things and..." That is, if the show aired. And if people watched it. And then I thought -- so what if people watched it and new people came in, the folks we would make uncomfortable with cameras in the shop are the very folks I am committed to being here for.

I have no doubt that we could find plenty of people willing to buy sex toys on camera (this is America after all) but what about the octogenarian who was sent to us by her Physical Therapist and told me how scared she was to walk into the shop? And the woman who, spotting a man looking at vibrators, ushered a staff member to the back of the shop to whisper her question at a barely audible level. Or the guy who clearly loves sharing his toy time escapades with the staff he knows by name, but I'm pretty certain does't want the details of his sex life being heard by a strange film crew, let alone the viewing public. Those are the people we are here for and if one nice elderly lady does't cross our threshold to buy a bottle of lube because she spots a camera in the shop, well, then clearly, I've lost my way. So this morning, first thing when I woke up, I emailed the producer to say "No thanks."

Early to Bed's mission includes protecting the privacy and comfort of our clients as best we can in a retail store and it only took me a little while to realize that no promised (or hinted at) riches were worth compromising on that. I'll be honest, if there ends up being some woman-owned sex shop reality tv show and it is not horrible, I might be a little sad that I said no (media slut is in my job description). But I feel like for the past 12 years I have been making the same promise over and over to our clients: "You are safe here" and I need to keep that promise. And I will. I promise.