If you happen to be driving through Oakland, California, you might see a billboard that simply says, “Stimulus Packages Available.” It’s got nothing to do with the federal government; instead, it’s an advertisement for Feelmore, a one-of-a-kind, BIPOC-owned sex shop that’s using the pandemic as an opportunity to further connect with its community.
When COVID-19 sent the country into quarantine, Feelmore’s brick-and-mortar business took a downturn. Thankfully, founder Neena Joiner already had another strategy in place to weather the storm.
“We’ve been doing deliveries for the life of Feelmore,” Joiner says. “No one wants to wait that long when it comes to their orgasm, so I don’t expect them to wait that long when it comes to their sex store, either.”
The shop sells wands, vibrators, dildos, literature, and more, all of which is available for delivery or pickup. Joiner herself makes deliveries wearing an “I Sell Sex Toys” T-shirt. She feels that her visibility and presence within her community helps destigmatize conversations around race, body image, politics, and, most importantly, sex and who’s allowed to have it.
“I get an opportunity to sell a cultural experience around sex and education to people who have never heard it from this perspective,” Joiner says. “A person of color like myself is telling the story. A queer person is telling the story. A masc-of-center person is telling the story.”
Joiner says that the socially distanced delivery methods that Feelmore has developed during the coronavirus pandemic have helped her business say afloat, but that going out into the community and connecting with people IRL is something that’s always been a part of the Feelmore business model.
“This is how Feelmore has always operated," she says, "and after COVID, this is how we’ll continue to operate.”
Bustle’s Small Business Salutes series celebrates small business owners who’ve been going above and beyond to make it work as the world grapples with the ramifications of COVID-19. Subscribe to Bustle Digital Group on YouTube to watch more.
Executive Producer: Whitney Buxton
Executive Creative Director: Lauren Sofair
Supervising Producer: Irina Dvalidze
Director Of Photography: Marshall Stief
Editor: Fia Ramo
Design Director: Andenew Ayele
Motion Designer: Jeff Donlan