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Posted on Fri, Oct 28, 2011 : 2:19 p.m.

Bongz, Thongz and costumes? Downtown Ann Arbor shop starts selling Halloween products, lingerie

By Lizzy Alfs


The downstairs adult novelties shop of Bongz & Thongz opened this week with Halloween costumes and lingerie.

Nathan Bomey |

Downtown Ann Arbor shop Bongz & Thongz earlier this week opened the previously idle, basement-level adult novelties portion of its store, selling mostly Halloween costumes and lingerie.

The downstairs of the 2,600-square-foot space at 119 E. Liberty St. is now stocked with costumes, lingerie and items like personal lubricants and body lotions, said co-owner Steve Aboula.

And so far, the basement has been a hit, co-owner Kilo Hassan said.

“Everybody that comes in here is going downstairs,” he said.

The store opened in September, but it had only been selling “head shop” products like smoking devices and other accessories on the first floor.

Due to a city ordinance that restricts what downtown adult entertainment businesses are allowed to sell, the owners were briefly forced to delay the opening of the shop.

The zoning ordinance does not allow the sale of “devices of simulated human genitals or devices designed for sexual stimulation” in the D1 District of downtown if they amount to more than 20 percent of a retailer's sales.

Thousands of dollars of sex toy products now sit in the basement of Bongz & Thongz, and the owners are hoping to sell them online.

“We created a website and we’re going to start selling them on there soon,” Hassan said.

Although the entrepreneurs had to alter their business model due to the ordinance, Hassan said sales are going “pretty well.”

“Business is not bad and it’s actually increasing every day,” he said. “We’re still trying to get it together because we’re new. We’re piecing it together slowly, but surely.”

Hassan said they get a lot of people through the doors just browsing, but they are also starting to get repeat costumers.

“We’re seeing regulars, which is beautiful,” he said. “That’s the whole plan.”

As they move forward, Hassan said they plan to figure out what items people want to see in the store — and to start selling more locally made products.

“We’re looking for very local glassblowers,” he said. “We have things from all over the state and country, but we want products from right here.”

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

What's the new code word for getting bath salts?


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 2:41 p.m.

Ah, let see now this business with the funny newsworthy name is selling yet another product --- Halloween costumes --- that can be found all over town in other places that do not rate a headline story in its biggest advertiser, A2dotcom. Halloween gear? Sold at very mass market shopping store and pushed seasonally by numerous seasonal operations operating out of vacant old Borders and video stores. Smoking accessories and weed pipes = already sold at various establishments around town. So that leaves the sex toys, which they can't even sell properly. Ah well, thanks for the hard hitting business coverage, a2dot com....and at least they finally installed a proper sign.

Ron Granger

Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 1:16 p.m.

I hope the city inspectors are regularly checking to verify they aren't selling "vegetables" and "fruit" in violation of their consent agreement with the city.


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 12:53 p.m.

Surely wished would give more free advertising to those shops that contribute to the community, i.e. art galleries, restaurants, and other small businesses in the downtown area.


Fri, Oct 28, 2011 : 11:46 p.m.

Man I wish my business would get this kind of free advertisements and attention that this place gets.

Jojo B

Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 12:47 a.m.

Rename your business to have a silly rhyming name that references pot or sex (or other fun semi-taboos) and the free advertising is yours!

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Oct 28, 2011 : 8:18 p.m.

Why does it bother some people so much when there's a store that sells something they wouldn't want to buy? I would never need anything at a Lane Bryant, but I don't begrudge heavy women having a special place to shop. Why can't counter-culture 20-somethings have a place that makes them all tingly inside, too?


Fri, Oct 28, 2011 : 8:22 p.m.

HA! Good post!


Fri, Oct 28, 2011 : 7:49 p.m.

Wow. Another article about this place? Haven't we heard enough already?


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 12:08 p.m.

Well, you keep reading them . . .

Some Guy in 734

Fri, Oct 28, 2011 : 8:32 p.m.

Apparently, "Bongs & Thongs" in an e-mail subject line produces clicks. A-a-a-and... I've fallen victim, too. Again.


Fri, Oct 28, 2011 : 7:37 p.m.

Not all glass products are used for non-tobacco products. Many of these shops sell items such as hookah pipes, which many people use to smoke tobacco.


Fri, Oct 28, 2011 : 7:34 p.m.

The shop sells products that consumers want. They are not contributing to students not being productive citizens. College studnets are all adults and can make decisions on purchasing their choice of blown-glass products or whatever thong tickles their fancy (pardon the pun). Why don't we ban pool halls too? Because you got trouble,..... oh you got trouble,... with a capital T that rhymes P and that stands for POOL!

John of Saline

Fri, Oct 28, 2011 : 7:23 p.m.

So, with the added basement stuff, it's a head and tail shop.


Fri, Oct 28, 2011 : 8:08 p.m.

That's what she said? (Michael Scott would be proud of you sir)


Fri, Oct 28, 2011 : 8:06 p.m.

Yeah, that's pretty good!

Bertha Venation

Fri, Oct 28, 2011 : 7:31 p.m.

HA! Good one, John! See ya soon.


Fri, Oct 28, 2011 : 7:08 p.m.

head shop" products like smoking devices and other accessories on the first floor. why do campus towns sell this ugly stuff and take away from our college students being productive citizens


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 9:03 p.m.

Response to AAbob13 -What I find sad about all of this is the destruction of young folks by using alcohol, drugs, etc. Having worked in a clinic that deals with the aftermath of the effects of the above, it is totally discouraging. Would it not be better to grow up and become responsible citizens instead of destroying your mind.


Fri, Oct 28, 2011 : 7:31 p.m.

Per Kitty: "why do campus towns sell this ugly stuff and take away from our college students being productive citizens." I am continually amazed at the dream world some inhabit. College students tend to abuse alcohol, and to use pot. Many continue to do so for decades and lifetimes. I have found that the alcohol tends to be pretty destructive. The pot, not so much. Kitty, lots of this town's and nation's most intellligent, productive and respected residents use pot. So I'm not buying that selling a bong is creating unproductive citizens. No more than the lack of a bong or lack of pot use makes one ignorant. Maybe closed-minded, but not ignorant. (BTW, I'm not in favor of smoking pot. Using it is another thing entirely, however.) Big bust of squatters on VanDyke in Detroit yesterday, selling pot in a residential neighborhood. Good thing it wasn't being sold in a regulated establishment that was paying taxes and was limited to selling to persons who had been licensed by the state to purchase it. Way better that criminals and squatters were selling it to whomever they pleased, off the tax rolls to boot.


Fri, Oct 28, 2011 : 7:07 p.m.

the last thing ann arbor needs with hash bash and all


Sat, Oct 29, 2011 : 12:06 p.m.

Maybe you should live in Pleasantville?