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How To Find a Good Sex Shop


How To Find a Good Sex Shop
Vincenzo Lombardo/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

While customers, and the occasional activist, are trying hard to drag sex shops into the 21st century, the reality is that many, if not most, sex shops still rely on our insecurity, fear, and ignorance, in order to survive while offering us bad customer service, and shoddy products at inflated prices.

The good news is that there are now dozens of excellent sex shops both on and off line, and no one has to suffer foolish sex shops gladly. The trick is knowing which sex shops you can trust. Here are some tips on how to tell if the sex shop you are buying from is worth your time and money.

  1. Word of mouth.
    Word of mouth recommendations are the best was to find a great sex shop. If someone you know has shopped there, they can offer first hand experience. By the same token, if you've found a great sex shop spread the word. If we all treat sex shops like any other business, they will have to start acting like other businesses, and clean up their acts if they want to keep us as customers.


  2. Shop in person when you can.
    Any bricks and mortar sex shop worth their salt will have samples of all their products out and working, so you can see, feel, and touch your potential purchases. Shopping in person is the best way to reduce the risk of a toy being the wrong shape, the wrong strength, the wrong smell, or the wrong shade of purple. We don't all have first rate sex shops in our city or town, and even when we do, they aren't always accessible to us. But if you're traveling and you know you'll be in a city where there is one, take advantage. If you can't shop in person, be extra vigilant about assessing the shop before you purchase on line.


  3. Test their customer service.
    Whether you're shopping in store or on line, ask a few questions before making a purchase to test out the customer service. On line the best way to do this is by emailing a few questions. Based on both the speed with which they respond and what you think of their answers you can get a sense of their service. If you're shopping in person you can just ask a few questions, or if you aren't comfortable with that, call the store and ask them over the phone before you go in. Try asking two questions, one about products, and one about policies.


  4. Product questions.
    Ask questions to test their knowledge about what they carry and how much they know about sex toys in general. For example, ask them if they have the Rabbit Pearl in stock or what the difference is between this dildo and that dildo. Ask them to make a recommendation (e.g. I'm looking for a adult movie that's explicit but not too raunchy? Or what's a good first time vibrator?) This can also give you a sense of whether they're just trying to push the most expensive toy on you. A good sex shop will make more than one suggestion, and include a range of products at different pricing.


  5. Policy questions.
    The two most important questions that can distinguish good sex shops from bad ones are about privacy policies and return policies. If you're shopping on line, what happens if a toy arrives already broken? Who pays for the return shipping? How long of a warranty do they offer with vibrating toys? Do they offer a satisfaction guarantee, or can you only return products if they are defective? In terms of privacy, what sort of information do they keep for customers, and do they ever share that information with other companies or make their mailing list available for trade or sale?


  6. Price compare.
    If you're shopping on line it's easy to compare prices. If you're comparing stores in your neighborhood you can also just call and ask about prices. There is an enormous difference in sex shop pricing, and you want to avoid stores that practice "premium pricing". Sometimes you'll pay more for better customer service, and this can be well worth the few extra dollars, but you want to make sure that paying more means getting more, not just getting duped.


  7. Check out their links and resource offerings.
    Good sex shops create ties with community organizations, and good on line sex shops offer links to like-minded sites. If you're shopping on line, check out the link section of the website. Who a company links to can tell you a lot about the company. If you're shopping in person, does the store have a resource area where they offer free literature from local sexual health or sex positive organizations? The best sex shops always do.


  8. Shop your conscience and your budget.
    There are worker co-op sex shops, feminist sex shops, sex shops just for Christians, and sex shops that are open to everyone. Some of the most successful mainstream sex shops started out radical, with a very narrow focus, but found that as their customer base expanded, they needed to broaden their ideas of who deserves a good sex shop experience. Happily, the most progressive sex shops, the ones that offer the best customer service, are often the ones with the best pricing. But the bottom line is that if you look around enough, you can probably find one that is a fit with you.



  1. Avoid sex shops that don't have a posted privacy policy and return policy either on their website or visible in the store.


  2. Don't purchase from on line sex shops that don't respond promptly to email questions. Automatic responses don't count. If you don't get a real human response within 24 hours of emailing a question, move on.


  3. Don't purchase from on line sex shops that don't offer a toll free number. This may be a prejudice on my part, but an operation that doesn't offer a toll free number for customers isn't one that invests in good customer service.


  4. Be cautious of sex shops that make outrageous claims (positive or negative) about their products or sex toys in general. If a sex shop is pressuring you into buying something, or claiming that they only sell good products but all other companies sell bad products, be wary. A good sex shop will offer information and support you to make your own decision, not tell you what to decide.


  5. Avoid sex shops that sell high priced products but can't explain to you why they are more expensive. If their response is that the more expensive toy gives you more pleasure, they are lying. More expensive products should last longer, be made of better quality material, or have some other concrete benefit. Don't assume that because a toy is over $100 it is worth it.


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