What makes a good sex shop?

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Writer’s note: I had worked two years at an adult store on Staten Island as an intimacy specialist (sales), and as an educator. I’m going to use this as a base line as I go through my list of dos and don’ts  for a “sex shop”


The good people at Maxiwand asked my opinion on what I believe are the components that make up a good sex shop, so here’s a brief list:

  1. It shouldn’t be called a ‘sex’ shop or have XXX emblazoned on the front of the building. Adult stores should be a place that’s not depicted as seedy and dirty, which are unfortunately now synonymous with those names.
  2. It shouldn’t be connected to another type of business. Customers in an adult store should feel comfortable in the knowledge that all the other customers in the store are in there looking for the same things, and not for rolling papers, bait, or ammunition.
  3. Sales people should be knowledgeable and approachable. If the store is not theme-oriented, then the workers there should be in comfortable (in some cases I’ve seen business casual) clothes, and should have ‘hands-on’ knowledge of many of the products and practical knowledge of everything else.
  4. Stores should host educational programs. You’d be surprised how many people have completely wrong information about sex and sex toys. Having a comfortable and safe location to learn is always a plus, and now the students have a familiar place to shop!
  5. Variety is a necessity. As much as we’d like for every customer to buy the top-of-the-line silicone toy, sometimes they just don’t have the funds to do so. The purchase of a jelly toy is not the be-all, end-all, as long as the customer is informed of the downsides of jelly toys (and why they should save up and treat themselves one day to a high-end toy). So a good shop should have toys of all different varieties and price points.
  6. Following the variety theme, there should be different products offered: gag gifts, candies, books, videos, lingerie, candles, oils, lube (of course), wigs, shoes, “branded” toys (like the 50 shades crap), bdsm gear, apparatuses, pasties, games, the annoying bachelorette party stuff… you never know what customers are looking for – sometimes the customers don’t even know themselves – and a good store will be prepared to help in any scenario.
  7. There is no need for a store to be open until crazy hours of the night (this is more for the employee side of things). There is no purchase at 2am that couldn’t be made the next day. Even the shops in the city that never sleeps (not the ‘burbs, the actual city) close around 10pm.
  8. Stores should be welcoming to all genders/sexual orientations, and should have a staff that represents such. This is more of a situation for at-home party companies than brick-and-mortar ones, but still…
  9. These are pretty straight forward: the place should be well-lit, clean, organized, have a well-lit and maintained store front/parking lot, and shouldn’t have any “curatined-off” areas. Those areas up the sleaze quota by quite a few points.
  10.  One last thing: there should be clean, well-maintained customer bathrooms. It may be some extra work/cost, but it’s rather disappointing for a customer to go to some place that’s a distance, and be told that the closest bathroom is in the Starbuck’s across the way (true story).

I haven’t traveled far to experience first hand the best shops around the USA, but by doing research and visiting local stores, I can recommend the following places:

The Pleasure Chest in Greenwich Village in NYC
SheBop  in Portland, OR
Babeland in SoHo, NYC
The Stockroom on Sunset Blvd, L.A.
Eve’s Garden West 57th St, NYC

Maxiwand recommends the following stores worldwide:

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