Topless Coffee Bar Opens in Central Maine
Some Thoughts on Topless Marketing :
Well, it finally happened. The Topless Coffee Bar opened in Vassalboro, Maine. Everyone has been talking about it, and the talk has been unanimous interest and bad jokes.
I've been following this story all winter in our local paper, as I live and work in the area. It began with Donald Crabtree applying for a business permit to turn an old abandoned shack into a topless coffee shop. I knew the place, a log cabins style building that sits like the crown jewel of the Grand View Motel out on Rt 3. I drove by it back when I lived out in South China and did the long burn up and down Rt 3 twice a day. Back then it was called McDaddy's Pub at the Fat Cat Grille. Don't be fooled by that way cool name, it was a terrible trucker's bar, a macabre place to spend an evening, and it of course went under, leaving the building abandoned and giving the place an even more desolate air. But no more, The Grand View Motel is reborn.
I have talked with two friends (guys in their 20's) who've made the trek, a good fifteen minutes out of Augusta, for a nice cup of joe. Both accounts were positive, though both said they probably wouldn't go again, unless some friend wanted to check it out. I asked one friend if he thought the girls working there were pretty, and he said that one girl across the room he considered pretty, but the rest not so much, and his particular waitress was "older". Both saw a topless guy, a small compact and hairy man with muscled and tattooed arms. I saw him in the photo in the paper (featuring 3 of the 10 employees and the owner, Crabtree). They looked pale and cold, attractive when using the bar of central Maine, but seeing them partially nude (the girls were coyly covered) made me draw references to glossy magazine photos, and they seemed a rag tag group under that kind of scrutiny. Anyone would.
Much has been made of the fact that Crabtree received over one hundred applications for the ten positions. Several national AP stories have pointed to that as sign of the terrible economic straights small towns in Maine are facing due to our current recession . And although I agree to some extent, I feel that a place like Vassalboro is in continuous economic trouble. There are no easy times in Vassalboro (and the hundreds of towns just like it in Maine), not anymore. We harbor a steady kind of poverty that is not so susceptible to national trends. At least less so. We have not recovered from the loss of the lumber and manufacturing industries. That tide has been going out for over a decade. Hard times are nothing new.
The talk surrounding the Grand Opening has of course led me and my girlfriends to consider the logistics of working in such a place. I do work in a coffee shop, but I keep my shirt on. Beyond the obvious "self respect" argument, there are some practical issues. Nudity seems enjoyable enough, when done with the right lighting. But lugging hot coffee around a crowded room under fluorescents for eight hours without a shirt on, I don't know. I think that would leave everyone feeling a little let down. When you apply there's got to be that moment where Crabtree takes a seat, leans back, and says "OK, take off your top." That leads to some dark thinking on my part. Needless to say, it's not for everybody, and I think I'll stay put.
I haven't decided whether it would be better to go with a group of girls or a couple guy friends. I'll have to feel that one out. But I'm planning on getting there in the next week, so I'll give you a full report in Part II. I feel it would be prudent to visit soon, as I imagine it will be going out of business with some rapidity. If they could draw any kind of tourist action this summer they might be able to float the following winter. Maybe. I don't know though, a regular crowd, without alcohol, seems unlikely.
A bad $3 dollar cup of coffee and no touching, it's a hard sell the second time around.
Do you think this business will survive?
- A Visit to the Topless Coffee Bar in Vassalboro ME
Saturday at 3 in the afternoon I walked into the "lobby" of the Topless Coffee Bar in Vassalboro Maine. I looked to my left and there stood a girl of about 22, tan, topless and smiling. I turned to my friend,...
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