Buying sex toys might seem like a daunting task.
Buying sex toys might seem like a daunting task. Even armed with the right information, where do you look? Where can you ethically buy body-safe toys from people who really want to help you find what’s best for you?
Fortunately for us, there are many wonderful sex and sexuality shops in the world today. Here are just a few of my favorite feminist, sex-positive shops/educational centers around the U.S. and Canada! They provide educational resources about all aspects of sex and sexuality through their websites, classes and events, friendly and knowledgeable sales staff, online resources, and their own informational publications.
Assume all links are NSFW.
Babeland was founded in Seattle in 1993 and has since expanded to have several locations in New York City. It is “a destination, a lifestyle, a state of mind—all celebrating the simple truth that sexually healthy people make the world a happier place.” I can’t say fairer than that! Babeland is one of the most reliable and well-loved shops out there, certainly first on my list and many others.
SheVibe is an amazing spot online to shop for quality toys (with great sales), to find creative sexuality resources, or just to admire cool original artwork made just for their site. They even have a special info page about all the manufacturers whose toys they carry. Of course, every shop on this list has a wonderful website with great resources and product options—but even without a physical location, SheVibe deserves a spot on this list.
Come As You Are
Come As You Are is a totally badass, cooperatively-owned-and-operated sex shop based in Toronto. They operate based on eleven core principles: sex the way you want it, customer service that helps, no come ons, be accessible, be the anti-experts, be worthy of trust, create nerdy fun, contribute co-operatively, be generous, working harder to make sex easier, and live our name. Intrigued by any or all of those? Check them out.
The Smitten Kitten
The Smitten Kitten in Minneapolis defines itself as “a progressive sex toy store for everyone.” My favorite things about Smitten Kitten’s work are their lending library and (most exciting of all) their educational site, badvibes.org, dedicated to online resources about their ongoing research and testing of toys and lubes—including a safe shopping guide. They are outspoken against toxic toys, so they’re a great and trustworthy source of good toys and good information.
Good Vibrations has various stores throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as a location right outside of Boston in Brookline, Massachusetts. Good Vibes, which was once described to me as “like a Pottery Barn, but full of sex toys,” prides itself on its clean, well-lit, positive environment. They work “to help make the world more sex positive and shame free around sexual health and sexuality.”
Early to Bed
Early to Bed, on the north side of Chicago, was founded expressly so that people of all genders and orientations could shop for quality sexual products in a safe and welcoming space. They work hard to uphold that mission, and to spread their sex-positive message as far, wide, and loudly as they can.
Good For Her
Good For Her, located in Toronto, centers itself around the belief that “women and marginalized communities need access to information and products that are not always easy to find or easy to talk about.” They hold women- and trans-only hours, to maintain a welcoming and positive environment for those of us who may not feel comfortable or courageous walking into a sex shop at any time.
The Pleasure Chest
The Pleasure Chest works “to facilitate discovery, encourage exploration and to provide products, information and an upbeat and pleasurable shopping experience that will make you feel great.” They have locations in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. They know their stuff, and dedicate themselves to making customers feel informed and comfortable.
The Sexploratorium, on hip South Street in my hometown of Philadelphia, holds a special place in my heart. It not only boasts a quality selection of toys, intimate apparel and costumes, and more, but it also has educational signs posted around the shop (particularly in the beautiful BDSM section) including information on how visitors can keep the space safe and comfortable for other customers.
And last but not least: The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (CSPH), my sex education/advocacy home as a former intern, started selling products just this past year. Previously, and still, the CSPH functions as a sexuality education and training organization that works to reduce sexual shame, challenge misinformation, and advance the field of sexuality. Their amazing, carefully curated store is just one of the many ways they advance their important mission. They are located in Pawtucket, RI, right outside of Providence.
Now go check them out!
COVER IMAGE COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK.