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Gainesville stores offer pole-dancing lessons, liquor

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Posted: Sunday, August 16, 2009 12:00 am

No matter your vice, it's not hard to find your fix in Gainesville. From beer to boobs, the city is home to plenty of stores that will entertain your wild side.

Getting it on for more than 20 years, French Addiction is an adult toy store and lingerie shop that sells costumes, movies and sex toys for both men and women.

Although some might have reservations about entering the pink building at 819 W. University Ave., employee Nichole Crosby said there's no need to be shy.

"We make it a point to make the atmosphere comfortable,"Crosby said. "I mean screw it, everyone deserves to feel good."

Along with apparel and other goodies, French Addiction also offers talent scheduling for bachelorette parties and pole-dancing lessons that take place in the store. It's $25 for an introductory class and $15 for each additional class, Crosby said.

"It's great exercise," she said.

Not too far from the naughty adult paradise is a place where people can buy something for their bodies that is a little more permanent.

Anthem Tattoo Parlor has been in business for three years and is owned and operated by longtime friends Rob Barnes, 35, Dave Kotinsley, 33, and Mike Mehaffey, 32.

The owners, forearms coated with art, said they make a conscious effort to keep the mood laid back and friendly.

Although the artists tattoo in all shapes, sizes and colors, clients won't see "flash-racks" in the parlor.

Flash-racks, Mehaffey explained, are stock collections of art that are created beforehand and ready to go-the tattoo equivalent to fast food.

"We draw up everything for every client," Mehaffey said, adding that the store primarily caters to serious collectors.

The partners have all had lifelong love affairs with the art of tattooing.

On the store Web site, anthemtattoo.com, Barnes recalls his grandfather's tattoo from World War II and Kotinsley reminisces about learning to tattoo using sewing needles.

While there are four full-time artists, a fifth spot is left vacant for traveling guest artists to fill.

For those who prefer art on the wall, Modern Age Tobacco and Gift Shop at 1122 W. University Ave. might be more appealing.

Lining the inside of the shop are vintage Alberto Vargas pinups. The store also boasts about 500 varieties of fine cigars along with rows of blown-glass pipes and ornamented hookahs.

Patrick Patton, 27, heads the shop, which began as a family business founded by his father.

"This place is one of a kind," Patton said. "What other smoke shop can you buy an original Vargas pinup at?"

For Modern Age employees, smoking is more than just a business or hobby.

"It's like a tradition," said 25-year-old employee Jonathan Watkins "It's nice to sit down with friends and family and have a smoke."

Although they say they are extremely passionate about smoking, Patton and his coworkers will tell you that is not the only thing they offer.

In a separate room at the back of the shop, those interested can browse adult film titles as well.

"You don't have to be a smoker to come in here," Patton said "We get students, doctors, lawyers. We get everybody."

If smoking isn't your vice of choice, a different one is just a few steps away.

Located directly next door at 1126 W. University Ave., Gator Beverage has one of the largest selections of beer in town.

About 300 varieties, ranging from craft-brewed imports to obscure domestics, are available.

The store is family owned and operated, something that employee Mike Collins, 33, said he appreciates.

"You're not just some asshole working for some asshole," he said. "They're cool people."

Although the store's diverse beer selection is impressive, there are plenty more beverages to choose from.

In addition to the beer-intensive inventory, Gator Beverage boasts several floor-to-ceiling wine racks and a wall of hard liquor behind the front counter.

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