“The first ______ to accept bitcoin” has become a favourite marketing stunt for publicity-hungry businesses everywhere. Plumbers. Travel Agents. Newspapers. Casinos. U.S. Congressional Representatives.
Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park, a nudist colony in East Gwillimbury, Ontario (needless to say, some of their links may not be totally safe-for-work), joined the party on Wednesday, becoming the first in its field to accept the most popular of the emerging cryptocurrencies for stays at its campsite and products from its gift store. The move isn’t a complete gimmick: as general manager Stéphane Deschênes explains in the company’s press release, “Privacy is a concern for some of our members who fear being judged because of their beliefs. The anonymity of bitcoin provides some reassurance.” The press release also quips: “A virtual currency is perfect for people without pockets!”
I called Deschênes to find out more about why bitcoin was a good fit for his business. “I recognize the publicity value” of announcing bitcoin transactions he said, “but initially it was because anonymity is always a concern for people.” Though the naturist philosophy is rooted in self-acceptance, he recognizes that a lot of his clients compartmentalize their clothed lives and their naked recreation. “I get people paying me with bank drafts, people pay in cash—sometimes thousands of dollars.” Bitcoin was simply a way to provide anonymous—it’s actually pseudonymous, if we’re being technical—payments that his customers wanted. “I am in business to take money from my customer however they want to give it,” Deschênes says.
And it comes with other benefits as well, he discovered, such as lower transaction fees than credit cards, and it’s “a lot easier to handle than cash. With cash there’s always the cost of handling it, transporting it, the risk of losing it.” So far, though, the benefits are slight; Deschênes has taken a grand total of two payments in bitcoin so far; the first one was several weeks ago (a pilot, pre-official launch) and the second was on Wednesday—a sale through Bare Oaks’ online store.
“I don’t expect to be overrun,” he says, but with the resort’s high season of June, July and August approaching (Bare Oaks is open year-round, but it “it was a good winter for clothes,” he concedes) he expects more bitcoin customers to come. “I’m not assuming it’s going to be a a huge part of my business—but if it were, I’d be OK with that.”