Circa 1980s now imagine the one lone sex store in my tiny hometown. The full experience of living in, getting my gag gift, leaving without becoming seen by virtually any passers by on the street was a terribly embarrassing experience for a 19 year old.
The reputation of theirs of being dirty and dismal have been proven by sex shops of yesteryear. What with their frosted glass windows concealing a rich and smelly inside full of a lot of hardcore porn. The sleazy males going in were of a questionable track record. No female with a shred of self-respect would even be found in such an establishment.
Nevertheless, you might have seen that the climate has changed. Gradually, forward thinking shop owners know where purchasing power is and in addition have been creating a new niche market: women friendly sex stores.
The first to open up its doors was Eve’s Garden in New York founded in 1974 by women’s rights activist Dell Williams. According to the Eve’s Garden website, Williams felt a lot of shame walking into a department store and buying a hand held vibrator, it propelled her to battle for women’s sexual rights.
Then, in 1977, across the coastline in San Francisco, feminist Joani Blank became dismayed by the absence of resources for women seeking accurate sex info and great quality sex toys. She opened Good Vibrations.
The challenge in smaller sized cities was that females like to cluster, discuss and get positive reinforcement when trying new things. The old retail model is skewed to males, who don’t mind walking into a sex store on it’s own. And also the ladies were not biting.
The female’s solution? She gathered girlfriends in the family room of her so they could buy sex toys at home parties. Sex toy parties resemble Tupperware parties except they promote all kinds of paraphernalia and sex toys.
But after a several years of being able to see the sales skyrocket with the house individuals, the sex toy industry discovered that girls had been the bulk purchaser of items. Scrambling in the last five to ten years, a new retail model which has built stores exclusively according to female’s preferences have been seen by every major city.
A colleague of mine, John Ince, author of The Politics of Lust, owns and manages The Art of Loving in downtown Vancouver. His shop is really what I would definitely classify as the new wave in sex stores.
The first time I walked into Ince’s store, it was a totally different experience from the sleazy store of yore. It’s the look and feel of an art gallery with airy ceilings, big sunlit windows, wood floors, plants and cozy leather couches. Immediately upon walking through the forward foyer, I saw an area exhibiting tasteful erotic art.
Going up stairs on the right were racks of sex positive books. On the left hand side ended up being sex plaything products on display, which buyers could pick up as well as check out. With every single item, there was a description of how you can use it along with a troubleshooting guide to any health concerns buyers could have. The staff were ready and laid-back to answer any questions with no judgment.
I spoke to Ince about his business and clientele. He said 70 % of his clientele are ladies, their mean age ranging from twenty eight to 45 years. John is convinced that men and women from all economic strata go to his shop and spend on average $40 to $60 per visit. Women tend to invest in smaller things as well as, as they end up getting much more comfortable, graduate to the larger ticket items including The Rabbit (made popular by Charlotte on Sex and the City).
Education is actually an impressive mandate for Ince, and his store gives 60 to 70 sexuality seminars per year. Certainly, the better educated a woman is about her sexuality, the more comfortable she will feel-and consequently, the more likely she will buy sex toys.
In the event that you’re still unclear sex shops are for you, why don’t we look at what everyone else is doing. Durex Condom’s 2003 Global Sex Survey cited the proportion of Americans who use vibrators to boost their sex lives at 49 %. The Babes in Toyland internet site state the number of vibrators offered when they 1st was established in 1993 to be 500; in 2004, the number rose to 83,250.
However with all of this sex-shops-really-aren’t-so-sleazy-anymore advancement, the bulk of sex toy sales still is online. I guess individuals appreciate the anonymous, non-stigma attached to brown paper packaging.
In closing, the Good Vibrations site states: “We look forward to the day when chatting about sex, looking for sex toys and teaching the young children of ours about sex is really simple, so comfy and very common that we take it for granted.” Amen.
Is not it time you went over and visited your local sex shop?