Updated: JANUARY 19, 2017
A sex shop is a retailer that sells products related to adult sexual or erotic entertainment, activity, and pleasure.
Before the 1960s, adult toys and pornography were sold discreetly out of other shops, but the first official sex shop opened its doors in West Germany in 1962.
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The products sold at sex shops aim to increase sexual pleasure, appeal to specific kinks, or spice up sexual activity. These products may include sex toys, clothing of a sexual nature, and erotic materials such as pornographic magazines. Where permitted, some sex shops may also show pornographic films or host private stripteases.
Due to the sexual nature of the products sold, minors are not typically permitted to enter sex shops. Sex shops are illegal in some jurisdictions or must adhere to strict laws. For example, in the United Kingdom, sex shops are not allowed to display their products in the windows of the shop. In Australia, sex shops cannot be within 200 meters of churches or schools.
Traditionally sex shops were bricks-and-mortar stores where customers would visit in person to browse the goods. Many bricks-and-mortar sex shops still exist today. However, as customers increasingly look for privacy and discreet purchasing options, online sex shops have become more common.
Some sex shops have been criticized for catering predominantly to straight, white, cis males. This narrow focus can make it hard for people outside the demographic to find products that interest and arouse them.