Friday, October 23, 2009

Loving your local sex store

(First of all kiddies, I want to let you know that I've put in paperwork to become and affiliate at passional. This will get me a discount there and I might be getting free toys to review at some point. I'm going to be talking about sex stores in general, but I will be praising passional as my home store. If, knowing I'm affiliated with them, you want to take what I say with a grain of salt, I understand and feel free; but I don't have advertising on this site because I can't control what ads are displayed, and I would never allow something on this site that I don't use myself or trust is a good product/store. Maybe one day I'll be able to get sponsors and banners and all that, but as of right now, I'm keeping this place just information and products I use myself.)

There are tons of sex stores out there. They range in size, selection and skeeze level. A good one can open you up to new experiences and toys you never knew were out there. A bad one can make you feel dirty and wrong for just wanting to buy a vibrator. I grew up in south jersey, and worked in atlantic city after I graduated from college. There are dozens of sex shops in Atlantic City, all skeezier then the next. I had been dating P for a while, and had come to one very distinct conculsion: I HATED his porn. It was all either really low budget or the high end Andrew Blake, I have to fast forward past all the girls standing around and crawling on the floor to get to the action type stuff. We needed better porn, and soon. I decided we needed some lesbian porn, preferably something with Jenna Jamison in it. (I loved her then, and still do, the woman is my porn idol.)

We were by Atlantic City already, and that was where P had gotten all the porn he already owned, so we set off to get some more. I walked into the first store (there were 3 or 4 on our list) and the place sent a chill down my spine. It was racks and racks of porn dvds in hinged display cases. There was a glass display case at the counter with a few kinds of lube and some dildos, and behind the counter a middle aged man who looked at me with both a shock and hunger that made me think they didn't get many young women in the store. I could feel his eyes on my back as I browsed the hundreds of titles on display. There were a few other middle aged men in the store. I was the youngest by a good 15 years and the only girl. I stopped at a title and flipped it over to see the next (the display was like the kind the have for posters, all attached at the middle where you can flip through to see each one.) and there was a loud metal screeching. I was horrified, I felt like everyone was staring at me (besides the guy behind the counter who I knew was). I refused to touch them again I was so embarrassed. P decided to take initiative and ask where the lesbian porn was. When the counter guy told him, he proceeded to call across the room to let me know he'd found the lesbian porn. I blushed so hard I felt like a had a fever. I couldn't take it, grabbed P's hand, and pulled him out of the store. Over pizza I explained that perhaps calling across the room wasn't the best way to go about things, and there was no way in hell he was getting me back into that store or any of the others on the list. We ended up buying a porn from the back room of a movie rental place where all of the movies could be purchased as well. I never went back to an Atlantic City sex store again.

P and I used to drive up to Philly on a pretty regular basis, and one day we parked on bainbridge, right near a store with a big pink sign saying "Fetishes Boutique." I elbowed P and jokingly asked if he wanted to go in. He said yes and since I had brought it up, had to go along. I walked in to another middle aged man behind the counter, and thought I was in for another humiliating experience. But, to my surprise, he looked up, met my gaze, smiled and asked me if this was my first time in the store. I nodded, and he proceeded to explain the layout, introduce himself and his coworker in the back room, offered to get anything we wanted to look at closer, and offered a 10% discount for our purchase as first time costumers. The place was well lit, clean, and welcoming, nothing like what I'd experienced before.

I didn't manage to buy anything that first day, but I went back a few weeks later to get my first sex toy . I've been back many, many, times since. I've been to openings of their small fetish art gallery upstairs (and been tied into a rope harness while there), I, with the help of my best friend and all the workers there, picked out new lube for my mother (she's had KY at her bedside for as long as I can remember and I had to put a stop to it), I've taken my mom and her friend to buy new toys their (they put 300 dollars on my rewards account), and I've even taken a pole dancing class though them. Most of the workers know my face, and I've always gotten fantastic service every time I go. These people know their stuff, and are always willing to share what they know. The place has actually expanded, split into two stores (toys & clothes), and changed it's name in the time I've been going there, and my experiences have only gotten better.

I know that not everyone has access to a place like passional. But that's what the internet is for. There are tons of sites out there dedicated to helping you find what you need and getting you sex toys discreetly. Check out the sidebar for a few suggestions. I'm no longer freaked out sex skeevy sex stores, and in fact sort of revel in freaking out the middle aged male staff by discussing with my friends, loudly, my favorite BDSM experiences. I've found nothing shuts them down quicker then a cute girl who knows way more then they do. For those of you with sex shops around, this is what I look for, and my suggestions for a better shopping experience.

1. Good location. If you're going to be scared to leave your car in the lot or that you're going to get shot on your way there, it isn't worth it.

2. Friendly staff. Yes I've mentioned the gross middle aged men that work most stores more then once, but that's because they were the main reason I was so freaked out. I like a place that at least has a few women on staff, or if not, the men are not looking at you like they want to rape you in the back room.

3. Knowledgable staff. The staff at passional know what they're talking about. They put me to shame. If I ever have a question or want to learn about something I haven't tried, they are always right there with the answer, no matter how obscure the subject or kink. If the person doesn't know what phthalates are, then walk out of the store right then and there.

4. An focus on safety. When I buy rope, they suggest safety scissors to go with it. They have a full range of condoms, female condoms and dental dams. They always explain not to use silicone lube on silicone toys. They do not sell anything with phthalates in it. The make sure you know how to clean and/or sanitize anything they sell before you leave the store. If you're store isn't set on making sure you have the best time you can as safely as you can, they are not worth your time.

5. Classes. This is the sign of a store that is dedicated to helping people have better sex lives. Lectures or demos on everything from blowjobs to spanking are fun, informative, and a great resource

6. Well lit/ good layout. You don't want to be in a place so crowded you can't move around, you also want to be able to see what you're looking at. If you can't reach half the toys (this happens to me a lot, I'm only 5'2), you're not going to consider buying them. This also shows the staff cares about their merchandise and has thought about making it easier to shop there.

7. A full range of merch. If I'd never gone out of Atlantic City for my sex toys, I probably would not be into half the kinks I am now. I like to be in a place that has everything from the tame to the things I would never even attempt. This gives me a place to both ask questions about the things I don't know, and exposes me to things I may not have known were out there.

8. A range in price. You get what you pay for. I've learned this lesson a number of times. I remember sending a friend and her girlfriend to passional for a strap on. They said it was too expensive, and ended up going to a notorious novelty sex store in philly and buying it there. It was a jelly toy with phthalates, and wasn't firm enough to use. Yes they paid less for it, but it sat in their closet completely unused until they finally threw it out. Yes, the best sex stores may be a bit expensive, but there is almost always something in your price range, and what they sell lasts.

9 Bring someone. If you're nervous or freaked out, bring someone with you that you're comfortable with, and who, preferably, is more outgoing or comfortable talking about sex then you. You'll have their support and worse comes to worse, they can do the talking for you.

Finally.... just make your own decisions. Don't stay any place that makes you feel uncomfortable. Like I said, there are plenty of online stores if there isn't a place where you can relax and buy sex toy in person. So go out there kiddies, try your local sex shop, and don't accept a shitty experience as the way it's going to be. Keep shopping around if you have to, or go online. And, as always, feel free to email me with any questions ( I'm off kiddies, and I'll sign out, as always by saying, when in doubt, just ask, and when you're unsatisfied, give direction!

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