Cloud Nine Recovery
260 1/2 Third Avenue, Chula Vista
Owner Richard Johnson, 67, ran a used-car business in Imperial Beach for ten years before he retired in 1995. When inactivity palled, he says he told his wife, "I think I'm going to open up one of those drunk-junk stores." The result is this fountainhead of inspirational cheerleading, located in a little shop on Chula Vista's main drag. "Screw Guilt" lighters, book covers for the AA Big Book, bumper stickers ("Pain is Optional," "Expect a Miracle,"), and gold-plated tokens for every year of sobriety ($14 apiece) are among the offerings. Johnson, who now boasts 21 alcohol-free years himself, says book sales make up the bulk of his business. (He carries more than 35 daily meditation tomes.) Sixty percent of his customers are recovering alcoholics, 30 percent belong to Narcotics Anonymous, and the rest fall into one of the other recovery subgroups. Some Spanish titles (Ya No Seas Codependiente) also are available.