A reader writes:

My wife and I are the owners of a small, neighborhood adult boutique (ok, ok, a SEX shop) and website in Los Angeles, CA. Each week, we nervously watch as small business after small business on our stretch of Venice Blvd folds up and calls it a day.

It started with the video store up the street, then the female-owned surf shop, a restaurant or two, the auto parts store… you get the picture. Empty storefronts now almost equal occupied spaces. Each day, our few customers ask us how we’re weathering the downturn. “Hangin’ in,” we tell them. Inevitably, a comment comes forth to the effect that the adult industry is somehow immune to the economics of other businesses; that, somehow, people tend to have MORE sex in lean times, like drinking alcohol, watching more television, and going to movies. We just nod.

Why bother telling them our sales are down 35% from last year, that we’ve racked up 50k in credit card debt to keep our doors open, that we’re barely making mortgage each month, haven’t taken a vacation in over five years, or that we had to lay off our two employees and increase our hours to 12 per day, 6 days per week in the HOPE we’ll make it? Immune to the shrinking GDP and rising unemployment figures? Hardly. Gawd help us if we get sick as we gave up our health insurance to save $600.00 per month over two years ago.

Truth is, we ARE faring better than most small businesses around here. No one’s rushing to bail us out (indeed, Bank of America laughed at us when we asked for a loan to consolidate our high interest debt), but somehow, we soldier on, the ulcer-like pain in our guts a constant reminder bankruptcy is one bad month from reality. Ironically, though in the business of promoting sex and intimacy for the last nine years, our own sexual frequency has hit an all-time low. Despite all this, we have faith that things will turn around, eventually. It has to.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.