Going into an adult store can be an overwhelming experience; there are products you may be unfamiliar with, and probably a few that'll may make you uncomfortable. You may feel embarrassed or shy or shameful or exuberant, or a combination of these and other emotions. There are a lot of stimuli: sounds, smells, and all sorts of bright colors, shiny packages and products all vying for your attention.
Since sex is still very stigmatized in our society, going into an adult store might take some people out of their comfort zone. Misconceptions about adult stores can also keep some of us from even walking through the door at all. To help you make more out of your adult store experience, I’ll offer some tips on what to expect and how to prepare. (Learn more about what your local sex shop might be like in Confessions of a Sex Shop Salesperson.)
Find the Right Fit
Note that the adult store takes many different forms: the adult superstore on the side of the highway, the high-end boutique downtown and everything in between. There are stores that tend towards silly novelty products, and others that carry only body-safe artisanal sex toys or offer products for the conscious consumer. Some are exclusively commercial while many strive to educate their customers and take pride in their role in empowering people to have more fulfilling sex lives.
Before you go to an adult store, search online for stores in your area to determine which one will best be able to meet your needs. Are you looking for bachelorette party favors? Go for the novelty store. Or maybe you're in the market for an artisanal flogger made by a local craftsperson. You might want to go to that high-end boutique. You can tell a lot from how a store presents itself online, and you can often get a good idea of what kinds of products they carry. Plus, although online shopping is nice, it’s often nice to see something in person, especially if you're new to sex toys.
Another thing you’ll want to research is whether or not the store has any rules and how accessible it is. Some stores may not want you to bring kids or may say that you should keep them in a stroller. Call first to ask the store’s policy - they’ll appreciate it. Do you use a walker, cane, or wheelchair? Do you have problems with stairs? Are there other concerns you have, like a sensitivity to chemicals (many stores use fragrances, whether sprays, plug-ins, or candles, not to mention heavily scented cleaners), difficulty seeing, or any other special needs? Call ahead and see if the store can accommodate your needs, and don’t be afraid to ask for help no matter what you need. Many stores will do what they can to help.
Have "The Talk"
If you have a partner or partners, talk with them about their interests. Discuss your needs, desires and any fantasies you may want to play out, and put together a list of the things you may need to fulfill those fantasies. If the store you’ve picked out has an online store, look it over with your partner(s) to see if anything appeals to you. If possible, bring the partner or partners with you to the store. Also, look into the store’s return policy before buying something.
Now It's Time to Shop
There are a few things you should bring with you when you visit an adult store for the first time. You'll need a list of specific products or types of products you’re interested in seeing (and possibly buying) and valid photo identification. You should also bring an open mind!
The more research you do beforehand, the easier it will be for the people in the store to help you and the better your experience will be. As someone who works in an adult store, I am always delighted when someone comes into my store with even minimal knowledge about sex toys; a customer expressing curiosity and a desire for knowledge make me work that much harder not only to share my knowledge, but also do my best to help them find something ideal for their needs and preferences.
I hope you enjoy your visit!