Although sex toys are more mainstream than ever before, for some, the idea of going into an actual sex toy store can be daunting. Not only from an overwhelming perspective, but from a stigma perspective too. We may be living in a time an era where sex positivity is a major part of our narrative, but that doesn't mean everyone has fully embraced it.
"It’s not easy to talk about sex, even with our partners," found and CEO of Wild Flower Amy Boyajian tells Bustle. "Many of us weren’t given the tools to describe pleasure and what feels good in our bodies, so the idea of walking into a sex toy store and describing to a sales associate IRL how you get off can be very intimidating."
But if you are in the market to even buy a sex toy, whether or not you're willing to go into a store, that's definitely a step in the right direction.
"If you’re shopping for sex toys, you’ve probably already confronted your own stigma around what owning a sex toy means, but not everyone around you has," Boyajian says. "In the past, using a sex toy has been synonymous with the idea that something must be wrong — either with your body or your relationship. Because of this, there is still a strong desire to keep our sex toy purchases discrete from others who may judge us in this way. Combine all this with the comfort and access our smart phones have given us, and it’s clear to see why some people are more comfortable to the internet to shop for sex toys."
Whether you're looking for either your first or 100th sex toy, here are seven alternatives to a sex store.
1. Wild Flower
When Boyajian launched Wild Flower, an online sexual wellness boutique in the summer of 2017, they had a mission to not just sell sex toys, but to educate people about the complexities of human sexuality.
"Within the industry, I think it’s vital for retailers to provide the same information and resources that an IRL visit to a sex shop would provide," Boyajian says. "At Wild Flower, I want people to feel like we answer their questions, provide them with tons of knowledge, and are available to them like a sales associate would be."
2. Your Local Drugstore
Yes, this is real life. If you haven't noticed yet, you can absolutely buy sex toys at drug stores now. They're usually in the same aisle as condoms and lube.
“Being able to place a sexual device in a leading drug retailer was a surreal moment," Katie Quigley, brand manager at LifeStyles Healthcare, previously told Bustle.
In news that might surprise you, Target is also home to a variety of sex toys. While you'll find a similar selection at Target as you'll find at a drugstore, it's still nice to know you can breeze in and out of a Target store with a new toy in your hand.
Amazon has become home to pretty much everything and anything, so it only makes sense that you'd be able to find sex toys here. The collection of sex toys and sex-related items on Amazon is huge. Because of this, it's best to stick to reputable sex toy brands you recognize or, at the very least, know what's in those toys you're about to purchase. Anything that contains chemicals like phthalates is an immediate no-no. Remember: sex toys aren't regulated. So it's up to you to make sure you're keeping your body happy and safe.
5. Babeland Online
6. Good Vibrations
Since 1977, San Francisco-based sex-positive sex shop, Good Vibrations has been selling sex toys. And, naturally, when the Internet rolled around, their online site was born. In the same vein as Wild Flower and Babeland, this is another a reputable place to buy toys.
7. Direct From The Manufacturer
With the rise of sex toy companies, especially women-led sex toy companies, now you can skip the middle man and go straight to the source.
"This industry has been run by men (or those with penises) for dozens and dozens of years, which inherently means that the design and marketing of the products that they've created is male-centric," CEO and co-founder of Unbound, Polly Rodriguez, tells Bustle. "It's important to have sexual wellness products that are created by those with vulvas, because it's very difficult to invent effective toys for a body part that you don't have... It's a very exciting time for sex tech, and it's only going to get better from here."
While these seven alternatives to sex stores are great sources, there's something Boyajian would like us all to keep in mind.
"While I don’t see anything wrong with wanting to shop for sex toys online instead of at a store, I think we could all benefit from spending time developing our personal 'sex skills'," Boyajian says. "Read some books about sex and anatomy, practice communicating your pleasure with your partners, and don’t make sex a taboo subject with your friends. Our sexual satisfaction plays a big role in our overall happiness so give it the attention it deserves."