toy shoppes

page updated: 13-May-2004

Friendly, neighbourhood sex shoppe

Cosy sex shops (often women-run) are proliferating like wild fire (if the Vagina Monologues came to your city, you probably have one of these). This is usually more like a coffee shop with dildos than a record store with dildos. It will have a more witty, stylish, or femme-focussed name than trash stores, and pretty things in the windows to help you see the difference.

Our local option here in sunny Victoria, Canada is called Kiss & Tell. I put the famous Good Vibrations and Toys in Babeland in this category too, along with Womyn's Ware in Vancouver and Come As You Are in Toronto.

These stores will contain lots of the same products as trash stores on nicer shelving displays, as well as a selection of higher quality products and a variable collection of books, possibly videos. Often there are some contributions by local sex product producers. These are fashionable in an "I'm a modern person and I have a modern sex life," "Vagina Monologues" / "Sex and the City" way. The staff are friendly, knowledgeable, and almost exclusively female. Usually there are chairs to hang out in and an atmosphere that is positive and easy-going.

I feel the need to caution folks to be aware that the default fashionable "healthy" attitude toward "good" sex may not be the be-all and end-all healthy attitude for you. I think there is a pretty good attitude prevailing in the education and awareness centred parts of the sex industry, but the trendiness of it gets my back up.

There can be a sense of becoming enlightened about the newest advances in sexual understanding, when I think it is useful to note that this is fashion and politics too. "Good sex" continues to becomes a bigger commercial industry and this pressure continues to grow.

A small rant: You can think for yourself. You don't have to agree with Good Vibes, even if they are pretty clever. The trendy attitude (or politics at all, says me) rarely expresses the complete possibilities, even if it is a radical expansion of the previous widespread belief. There is no one definition of "good sex," no matter how diverse that definition is.

Anyway, your local "good sex" sex shop usually has notably more diverse, better quality selection in the following areas:

  • books: sex education, self-help, fun tips, and erotic literature
  • videos that aren't your average porn: educational, erotica, positive attitudes
  • sometimes erotic art
  • dildos and vibrators: much higher quality and more interesting choices than trash stores. availability of silicon rather than rubber. different sizes, bumps, curves, colour schemes, appendages, even sculptural shapes. Staff who are capable of explaining the different features and helping you choose the toy of your dreams.
  • costumes and clothing: higher quality boudoir and bondage costumes than the trash store. Staff can probably recommend local artisans who do custom work.
  • community: the store may host, sponsor, or at least advertise meetings and events of various sexual community groups (youth groups, queer alliances, bdsm communities, fetish communities, erotic art and literature events, sex workshops, partner massage courses, tantra teachers etc etc).

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The mother of friendly sex shops is good old Good Vibrations (San Francisco). Some other notables:
Womyns Ware (Vancouver)
Come As You Are (Toronto)
Venez Tels Quels (Montreal)
Venus Envy (Halifax)
Toys In Babeland (Seattle)
Eve's Garden (New York)
Blowfish (Mail-order)
Grand Opening! (LA & Boston)

And some women-friendly, fairly DIY online shops:
Miss Woo (with sassy reviews)
She Tried To Be Good (lots of undies & costumes).

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