Medford’s Castle Megastore, which sells sexually oriented products for adults, has moved to new quarters on Medford's Riverside Avenue near the Rogue Valley Mall. - Bob Pennell

Sex shop changes locations

An adult specialty store that drew lines of picketers and protesters when it opened 10 years ago has moved to a new location in Medford with little of the turmoil that marked its opening.

Castle Megastore Corporation, which operates 18 retail stores in five western states, moved from its former Medford location on Progress Drive to a new site across from the Rogue Valley Mall Aug. 7.

The new store, at 1601 Riverside Drive, is about 12,500 square feet smaller than the old location.

"We were trying to find a nice location," store manager Melissa Colpitts said. "We wanted something smaller and more cozy. The location is great. It's got more traffic and it's not hidden."

The move to a more visible location has drawn a mix of reactions from new neighbors.

"A business is a business, and if there's people around to support them, go ahead," said Peter Schulzke, owner of Southern Oregon Pawn, on Central Avenue one block from the new Castle store.

Jay Lunt, a co-owner of M & M Automotive Paint Supply, said Castle is an improvement compared to other businesses that have leased the building.

"It doesn't affect the neighborhood, except positively," Lunt said. "Compared to Kennedy's Funk and Junk which used to be on the property, it's a real upgrade."

But Cherri Forster, who works at a nearby family restaurant, said she doesn't feel comfortable letting her 12-year-old daughter eat outside. Forster is worried her daughter would see things inside bags from the sex store.

Medford City Councilman John Statler said he expected businesses near the old location to be overjoyed Castle moved.

"If the business owners respect the community, they would place it outside of commercial and residential areas, into industrial areas," Statler said.

Despite dire predictions when the Castle store opened, it didn't bring problems to the neighborhood that many people feared. Medford Police Lt. Tim Doney said he remembered only a handful of incidents at the Progress Drive site, one of which was an attempted robbery in 2003. In the past year, no incidents were reported.

"I could point you toward businesses that have more (police activity)," Doney said.

Castle opened its doors in Medford under scrutiny from people concerned about the type of customers the shop would draw to their neighborhood. Groups lobbied the City Council to place restrictions on applications for business licenses for adult stores and kept the topic on the council's radar for more than two years.

They carried the idea through the Legislature to the Oregon ballot in 2000, but voters defeated Measure 87, which would have given local governments the power to determine where sex stores could set up shop.

"I remember when we first opened that store, we had a bunch of picketers saying the store would bring crime," said Stephen Milo, retail operations manager. "Then a year later they're saying we're better than the supermarket that was in there before us."

The Castle chain bought the location, which had been vacated earlier in the year by Cantwell's Markets, in September 1998.

"Castle was always clean," said Bob Stoddart, owner of HQ Books, located in a strip of stores near the old Castle site. "We never for one minute had a problem with them."

"The product is the only thing questionable," said Judy Stoddart, co-owner of the bookstore.

Residents of the townhouses immediately behind the old Progress Drive store also had mixed emotions about Castle's departure. The Progress Townhomes were separated from the Castle store by a wood fence and a five-foot wide alley filled with brush and trees.

Jean Johnson, who lives in one of the town homes, said the store improved the neighborhood by building two fences with razor-wire to keep transients from living between her property and the store's back wall.

Terry Duran, who lives several doors down, said he was happy the adult store moved out because it made him uncomfortable, but now he is worried about other problems. Duran said he doesn't leave his back window open anymore because the light Castle provided is gone and he's worried about his safety.

Stacey Barchenger is an intern at the Mail Tribune. Reach her at 776-4464 or e-mail

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