What makes a sex shop truly great? What elevates an sex toy shop from your everyday supply depot to a shop you can’t wait to get into? All the regular retail essentials need to be there: good prices, quality, selection, customer service. But the stores that make it into the Hall of Fame all have something more; they have passion for their work. And their work, God bless them, is to give all of us more interesting sex lives. The list is ordered by age of company, not ranked by quality.
The originator of the “clean well-lit” sex shop, Good Vibrations is both the oldest and the largest sex shop in the Hall of Fame. Now with four retail locations (three in California and one in Boston) and extensive on line and paper catalogues, Good Vibes is a great place to go for product exclusives and firsts, their website is also a wealth of friendly, no attitude, and accessible sex information.
Founded online in the 80s, before the web existed, I first learned about The Stockroom from friends who were blind and raved about its honest and detailed text descriptions of products. I checked it out and was hooked. With more of a focus on BDSM, but a nice overall selection, The Stockroom combines a utilitarian approach to site layout with a deviant attention to detail in product lines. Rare in the Hall of Fame, this site also features lots of sexy photos of folks who love sex toys.
Babeland (formerly known as Toys in Babeland) first opened a store in Seattle, and now has stores in New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles. From their radical roots, their current stores and website have the feeling of a fresh fruit market, piled high with colorful goodies you want to take home and try out immediately. It’s particularly exciting to see the company grow so much and stick to its promise of friendly, fun, smart and straightforward sex information.
Sadly for real life shoppers, Blowfish only exists online. But happily for all of us with access to a computer, Blowfish exists online! The closest you’ll come to the feel of browsing in a store where every new shelf makes you salivate with excitement (at least I think it’s excitement that does that) Blowfish manages to be one of a kind in a world saturated with more of the same. Run by a group of dedicated and very nice people, Blowfish’s passion for their work comes through on every page.
The world's only co-operatively owned and operated sex toy company, Come As You Are is an overachieving second generation alternative sex shop. They feature the same great service, selection, and information as other Hall of Famers, but with their own slightly iconoclastic attitude. The democratic worker-owners bring a special cheeky passion to their work that makes you want to come back for more. They are also known for their commitment to accessibility. Full disclosure: I am a former member of this worker co-operative.
Another Internet only business, My Pleasure began with a strong educational mandate which included a focus on disability (they used to have Dr. Linda Mona as a regular contributor). It seems to have strayed from this path (like so many other online stores that have had to compete with Amazon) but for its early efforts it deserves a place in the Hall of Fame.
Originating across the pond (and now with a US presence) Coco de Mer is far and away the most lavish, indulgent erotic boutique on the list. Their presence in the Hall of Fame is due mostly to the attention to detail and decadent approach to sex toy retailing. Whether online or in person, shopping in Coco de Mer is like eating just a little too much of the finest Belgian chocolate, you’re giddy and satiated all at the same time.