Can’t get enough of those feminist sex shops…

smittenKittenlogo.gif
So I have a confession to make. I have a litte bit of an obsession. With feminist sex shops. I want to work at them, and every time I go to a new city I drag whoever I am with to find the local one. Ever since I discovered Babeland (formerly Toys in Babeland) when I was in college, I have been a huge advocate of these places. They should be paying me for all the promotion I do (but they’re not).
Today I am in Minneapolis/St.Paul and have had the awesome opportunity to visit another feminist sex shop, Smitten Kitten. And boy am I smitten.
For those you who have never visited a feminist sex shop, think fun brightly-lit store, minus sketchy people and plus super knowledgeable (and usually feminist-minded) employees. Think sex-positive. Think products made with women in mind, for a whole spectrum of sexualities and identities. Think packaging without playmate-like models on every toy, and toys that are safe to use and good for our bodies. These places make talking about vibrator choices as unembarassing as picking out a toothbrush.
And speaking of toothbrushes, my personal favorite Smitten Kitten product is the Tingle Tip. (Hint: It’s an attachment to your electric toothbrush that could give dental hygiene a whole new meaning).
Other awesome feminist sex shops:
Babeland (NYC, Seattle and Los Angeles)
Smitten Kitten (Minneapolis, MN)
Good Vibrations (San Fransisco, Berkeley and Boston)
Feel free to add your favorites in the comments!
PS Most of these stores offer online shopping, and deliver their items in amazingly discreet packaging. And they have really fun classes!

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68 Comments

  1. Posted February 26, 2008 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Miriam, NO WAY! I just ordered something from Smitten Kitten yesterday!
    The women who own the store are fabulous– they came to my college and gave a Sex Toys workshop to a jam-packed room of eager and earnest undergrads.
    And after visiting the store, I honestly can’t imagine ever going to a skeezy, dim “18+” highway-type place again after all that sexual splendor that is SK.
    (And they always have 15% off coupons in Bitch mag when if you order online!)

  2. leah
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Woo! Minnesota represent!
    My husband actually discovered this shop for me. He came home very excited one day “My friend took me to this awesome sandwich shop and right next door was this sex toy shop that you’d love!”
    Who wouldn’t love good sandwiches and excellent feminist sex toys?

  3. laurakeet
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Chicago boasts Early to Bed which is a great pro-woman and feminist sex shop. http://www.early2bed.com/ I haven’t been there yet (shame on me, really) – I know them from their generous donations to feminist groups’ raffles and auctions, plus by word of mouth.

  4. christinargh
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Personally, I love lovehoney, especially the tongue-in-cheek demo videos. That and their Tracey Cox Minty Tingle Lube is the best thing since sliced bread, in my opnion.

  5. hazeyl
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Mail+Female in Amsterdam, NL is lovely, woman owned and operated, and far away from the red light district and its leering men/generally sketchy backdoor deals. http://www.mailfemale.com (or post+vrouwen in dutch!)

  6. Posted February 26, 2008 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    In Southern California, Condom Revolution, or ConRev, is the best sex-positive shop around (http://www.conrev.com/). They always card boys but hardly ever girls, which is how I got my first vibrator at 17 and a half. (:
    As for online shopping, I am an Adam and Eve addict (www.adameve.com), since their stuff is extremely affordable, they have an amazing variety of items, their return policy is good, the customer reviews on the site are helpful, they give away free gifts with order quite frequently, and if you’re on their email list, the coupon codes arrive with astonishing frequency (to the point where if I want something, I only have to wait on average a week or two before an applicable coupon code is seemingly magically emailed to me). The A&E house brand stuff is especially good in terms of both price and quality.

  7. UltraMagnus
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    While it still has the playmate sex kittens on a lot of the packages, The Pleasure Chest in West Hollywood is one of my favorite places to hang. Though I don’t think it’s exclusively “feminist”.

  8. Posted February 26, 2008 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Up in Vancouver, BC, Canada we have a store called Womyn’s Ware that I *highly* recommend!

  9. Erin
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    As a Chicagoan, I can’t recommend Early to Bed (http://www.early2bed.com) highly enough. I’ve gone to their workshops in the store and on my campus, chatted with customers and employees about gender politics as they relate to bondage gear, and of course picked up a number of goodies. Tulip is another nifty Chicago shop (http://mytulip.com) with two locations, one in Boystown and one in Andersonville. The Boystown location has a nice squishy couch to sit on and read or fuss with toys, and they’re open until midnight on weekends, just in case. :)

  10. demolitionwoman
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Heina (and others)-
    Be careful of the materials used in the toys you get from A&E and other mainstreams stores/sites. They sell a lot of jelly and PVC items, which contain questionable chemicals such as phthalates that are not good for your body.
    for more info
    also this
    Because sex toys are considered a “novelty” item under US law, there are no regulations on the materials used in toys. After years of working for Toys in Babeland, I can spot items made out of medical grade silicone (the safest soft materical) pretty darn easily. I can tell you that once silicone started to catch on, suddenly major manufacturers like Hustler, Adam & Eve, etc. started to come out with their own supposedly silicone toys. I say “supposedly” because these items said they were silicone on the packaging, they still had strange smells and textures and were nothing like any of the other silicone items we carried (which were manufactured by small, independent businesses and we were able to visit them and verify their methods).
    That’s the beauty of shops like Smitten Kitten – they’re more concerned about safety and quality than their own bottom line.
    Jelly rubber/phthalates are one of my pet concerns, especially when it comes to sex toys.
    /rant.

  11. Xana
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I live a few blocks from the Smitten Kitten and love it! The ladies who run it are knowledgeable and always have great suggestions on what to buy. Glad you found it in your travels, Miriam. :)
    Minneapolis represent!

  12. justadream
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    In Halifax, Nova Scotia (they also have a store in Ottawa)we have an excellent pro-woman, queer-friendly, education-oriented bookstore and sex shop called Venus Envy.
    Come (pun intended…) for the infamous Wall of Dildos, stay for the fabulous women’s studies, queer lit, sex ed, erotica, etc. sections.

  13. adia780
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    If you’re ever in the Providence, RI area, I highly recommend Miko (www.mikoexoticwear.com). The staff people are very open and friendly and their selection is top notch–none of those scary chemical toys!
    And their sex ed classes rock–strip tease, strap-on how tos, transgender sex, etc.

  14. lbacher
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE THE SMITTEN KITTEN.
    I’m so glad they’re getting lots of press – the things they do are amazing. They used to come out and do sex workshops at my undergrad, filling my head with all sorts of knowledge to impress my extended family with at the next Thanksgiving.
    As a Minnesotan in diaspora, it fills my heart with midwestern pride every time a Smitten Kitten package arrives at my house.
    LOVE LOVE LOVE.

  15. FemiDancer
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    In Atlanta GA we have Aphrodite’s Toy Box.
    Owned and operated by women and offers all lingerie/corsets in plus size, unlike most stores that sell lingerie!
    http://www.aphroditestoybox.com/

  16. SarahS
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I miss Wisconsin so much because I love “A Woman’s Touch”. They have a store in Madison and one in Milwaukee. I bought my first dildo there and I am so spoiled now. You can touch demos of everything, toys, lube, condoms, etc before you buy it. Plus, you can get a strap on harness, beautiful handmade jewelry, soy candles, books about feminism/lesbianism/sex, and lube in one place. It makes me miss home… le sigh.
    Someone should make a big list of all these stores or a website or something. feministsexstores.com perhaps?

  17. lyndorr
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never been to a sex shop but I went to a Fantasia Party that my university actually had as an Orientation Week event. It was mostly women. The woman who owns the business presents her products to the audience with some humour and information about things like whether something is ‘vagina friendly’. It was a great time.

  18. SuzanneK
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Just so you know: Good Vibrations, the SF bay area institution, has undergone an ownership change and corporate restructuring. It’s no longer cooperatively run or woman-owned. Their old mission statement said they were a “worker-owned, women-owned cooperative”. New mission statement says they are a “diverse, woman-focused retailer.”
    It’s not all bad, they still sell good stuff, and apparently the new owners are phasing out all toys with phthalates. They still have high standards for safe and tasteful products, they still call their clerks “sex educator associates”. But the old crunchy granola vibe (so to speak) has been replaced by something more like..Ikea, maybe? The store in SF is next door to a Sprint cellphone store, and I’ve joked before that it’s hard to tell which one you’re in.

  19. pythonrunner
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    i love the McCain post and this in the same day!
    and i love my sex toys, too!

  20. SuzanneK
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Just so you know: Good Vibrations, the SF bay area institution, has undergone an ownership change and corporate restructuring. It’s no longer cooperatively run or woman-owned. Their old mission statement said they were a “worker-owned, women-owned cooperative”. New mission statement says they are a “diverse, woman-focused retailer.”
    It’s not all bad, they still sell good stuff, and apparently the new owners are phasing out all toys with phthalates. They still have high standards for safe and tasteful products, they still call their clerks “sex educator associates”. But the old crunchy granola vibe (so to speak) has been replaced by something more like..Ikea, maybe? The store in SF is next door to a Sprint cellphone store, and I’ve joked before that it’s hard to tell which one you’re in.

  21. maeve314
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    justadream:
    Don’t forget Venus Envy’s fabulous web site! :)
    http://www.venusenvy.ca/

  22. feisty_jenn
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    justadream mentioned Venus Envy: their website is http://www.venusenvy.ca
    also, in Toronto is Come As You Are (www.comeasyouare.com) and Good for Her (www.goodforher.com)
    And in Montreal, JoyToyz (www.joytoyz.com)

  23. dust_bowl_glam
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    The Rubber Rose is a wonderful sex-positive boutique in San Diego: http://www.therubberrose.com/

  24. marlisa
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Here in Providence, RI we have the fabulous ladies of Mikos.
    One of the best things this city’s got, with sexy classes too!
    Check them out if you’re in the city . . .
    http://www.mikoexoticwear.com/

  25. jeffersaurusrex
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Grind N Groove in Sacramento is nifty…!

  26. Meowser
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    It’s My Pleasure in Portland (OR).

  27. CScarlet
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    We’ve got Oh My! in Northampton, Mass., which is run by an awesome woman and her mother, and they do kick ass workshops and sex toy parties. I buy so much from there! My Smart Balls are seriously my new favorite toy (and I go there so much that the owner knew in which color I would prefer them!).
    And in my local stomping grounds of Portland, Oregon, we’ve got It’s My Pleasure over in NE, which I’ve only been to a few times but was also lovely. It’s in a cute house with a picket fence!

  28. meeneecat
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Definitely Babeland, I feel so fortunate to live in New York and that I can go there whenever I want.

  29. nervous_aesthete
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know what I’d do if it wasn’t for Sh! in Hoxton, London, because I love vibrators and hate hate hate ‘traditional’ sex shops. If you’re on your travels in England, do pop in! http://www.sh-womenstore.com They actually won an ethical consumer award for their stance on sex toys. For the full London experience, you can even get a cup of tea for free when you go in.

  30. stickybetty
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Hysteria in Denver, CO!!
    the ladies are uber helpful, and they have a great bookstore!

  31. Posted February 26, 2008 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Miriam, I’m so glad you came on board at Feministing, i LOVE all your posts :)

  32. Doug S.
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    For some reason, I thought of this…
    http://www.sexdrugsandjunecleaver.com/2008/02/25/183/

  33. Avon
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Check out http://www.winkkc.com
    An awesome shop in Kansas City, Missouri!

  34. roethke
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    I’m a feminist sex toy manufacturer, and I’ve been seriously fucked over by one of theose feminist sex toy retailers. Not all “women friendly, worker run” shops are created equal.
    I mean that I’m a feminist, not the toys. I guess they could be, inasmuch as inanimate objects can have social tendencies.

  35. Lisa27
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad justadream, maeve314, and feisty_jen have mentioned Venus Envy, which rocks in both cities (better book stock in Halifax I think).
    A friend of mine and her sister opened a new store in Toronto last summer, Red Tent Sisters (www.redtentsisters.com), with products, books, and classes related to reproductive health, fertility, sex play, and child-rearing.

  36. Posted February 26, 2008 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    I remember when I lived in Portland, Maine that Nomia was quite good.

  37. Mina
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    “I miss Wisconsin so much because I love ‘A Woman’s Touch’.”
    That one’s good for mail-order too. It doesn’t carry jelly rubber either.

  38. Sara
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    I second early to bed! (early2bed.com)

  39. Posted February 26, 2008 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know if it’s still there, but when I was in college there was one in Boston on Mass Ave at the end of Newbury Street called “Grand Opening”

  40. animeredith
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned the famous Baltimore sex-toy shop, Sugar!
    http://www.sugartheshop.com/HoursDirections.html
    On top being sex-positive, geared towards women, only carrying products that are 100% safe, and devoid of trashy novelty toys, they are also trans-friendly! They have plenty of trans people in their employ and also have fun workshops!
    It’s a great place. :)

  41. MzMartini
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Camouflage in Santa Cruz. The website isn’t much, but the store is amazing. The staff is wonderful and amazingly sex positive.

  42. Gabi
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Early to Bed is amazing.
    If you’re ever in Ann Arbor, check out the Safe Sex Store. Not only to they have some awesome stuff (and an entirely female staff!) they’re all more than willing to explain how to enjoy their products/sex safely. Which is extremely important considering the abstinence-only sex ed that’s mandated in Michigan…

  43. under_zenith
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    In Calgary, Alberta, we have A little more interesting. The owner was working when we were there, and she’s wonderful and so helpful. And it was so nice to be in a well-lit, non creepy feeling sex store!

  44. Madelyn
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad that someone posted about the Safe Sex Store (locally known as S3) in Ann Arbor, MI. This is by far the most fabulous shop I have been in. The staff is extremely knowledgeable, courteous and most importantly, concerned with your sexual well-being. They have a website (http://www.s3safesexstore.com/) and for some reason I feel like they have one or two more locations, but I’m not finding anything about them.
    Another big selling point about this store is that a portion of their proceeds go to the Midwest Aids Prevention Program and other deserving charities. It doesn’t get much better than that!

  45. Posted February 26, 2008 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    I’m a sex shop employee (Pleasure Place) in Washington, DC, and I understand what it’s like to be addicted to working there. I’m looking to move to California soon, and I’ll be looking up Good Vibrations’ number as soon as I’m in town. :)

  46. gingerakimbo
    Posted February 26, 2008 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    I second Rachel Kate on Nomia in Portland, Maine. It’s very very good!
    Also, I’m not 100% positive that Condom Sense (also in Portland, ME) is feminist-owned, but they sell Fun Factory vibrators, natural lubes, and the best condoms.

  47. EyeHeartNY
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    I was totally blown away by Babeland after being in so many sketchy roadside joints. It makes shopping for even the most adventurous sex toys feel like shopping at the Gap.
    I am sad that when I lived near the twin cities I missed out on Sex World. Probably not feminist-oriented, I imagine, but I heard stories about how you could ride the giant penis (mechanical-bull style) or whatever.

  48. Lauren D.
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 2:01 am | Permalink

    Can anyone reccomend a site for someone who wants to be REALLY discret? I still live with my parents, and need a way to get toys without them knowing.

  49. Katharina
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    Does anyone know a store like this in Europe, preferably Germany, Switzerland, France or the Netherlands? Ordering online is only half as much fun.

  50. HerManifesta
    Posted February 27, 2008 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    Lauren D. – Early 2 Bed is EXTREMELY discreet. Not to mention, there website is really friendly to everyone, modern, and thoroughly updated often. http://early2bed.com/
    You’ll like them. I live in the NYC area now, and still order from them!
    Thanks to the person who tipped off the sex shop in Ann Arbor. I’ll be there in a couple months and I’ll have to stop there.
    Also, can anyone recommend a great shop in London? I’ve been to Coco de Mer and while their website is top-notch, the store was under-whelming to me and seriously expensive. Still…check out the lush website – http://www.coco-de-mer.co.uk/
    Thanks for the post!

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