Feminist Sex Shop Review: Nomia in Portland Maine


On my two week vacation around New England (and Montreal!) I discovered a new feminist sex shop to review, Nomia in Portland Maine. From their website:

Portland’s first women owned and operated sensuality boutique.
We opened in February 2004 in order to provide women and men with a comfortable and fun environment in which to explore sex and sexuality. We offer a broad range of literature, from the academic to the erotic, lingerie, hosiery, and the finest adult toys and accessories available.

Nomia made it to my list of favorite feminist sex shops–it was a great place! It’s location is discreet, without a storefront. It’s up the stairs, but there is good signage outfront. They seem to emphasize discretion, and they had a sign up about “discreet shopper.” If you wanted you could give the employee a list of items you wanted and they would collect them and bag them up for you. A nice option for those who might be more shy and not something I’ve seen in other stores.
The shop was small but well-stocked. They had a big sale section, which is great for those on a budget. They have a lending library of DVDs (always a plus) and a great vintage sex toy display. A large book selection covers the first floor, including books on topics like menopause and cuddling. Plus all the standards perks of a feminist sex shop–you can touch and test display products, no toys that are bad for our bodies, and a really queer friendly selection.
All in all a great store. No online shopping yet, but check back as they are working on that feature.
Previous reviews:
Sugar in Baltimore, MD
Smitten Kitten in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
Hysteria in Denver, CO
Early to Bed in Chicago, IL
VaVaVoom in Asheville, NC
Aphrodite’s Toy Box in Atlanta, GA
Know another feminist sex shop I should review? Email me at miriamATfeministingDOTcom or leave it in comments.

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19 Comments

  1. singforchoices
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Miriam, any word on that DC shop you mentioned in the Sugar review?

  2. Miriam
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I just heard from the person behind it–looks like it’s still in the works! It’s called Whole DC (http://www.wholedc.com/) website under renovation, but I’ll post whenever there is news!

  3. Spiffy McBang
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    For purposes of suggestions, how do you define “feminist sex shop”? Given your mention of “standard perks”, I’m guessing it’s more than a place that doesn’t make you feel like you have to shower after you leave, but is there a laundry list of necessary services or what?

  4. Miriam
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Well a number of them self-identify as such, most of them are woman owned or run.
    There isn’t an agreed upon set of criteria, but what makes most stand apart is that they are geared toward women, queer and trans folks, where most traditional sex shops are geared toward men.
    Only carrying toys that are safe is another big marker, as well as educational classes and workshops.
    It’s a judgment call, for sure. If you have one you think might be, pass it along and I can check it out.

  5. ElanaFulana
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    could you do a review of It’s My Pleasure in Portland, OR?

  6. Veronica
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the links of the other reviews, too; I found out the Early to Bed is in my neighborhood!

  7. Athenia
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    I know there’s a sex shop in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I believe it’s call “Safe Sex.” I’m not sure if it’s a feminist sex shop, but it seems pretty female friendly.

  8. The Freckled Citizen
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    You MUST check out SelfServe in Albuquerque, NM… the women who run it are fantastic and it’s just the most welcoming, delightful place. I’ve been missing it ever since I moved away!
    http://www.selfservetoys.com/

  9. delilahfantastic
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    i’d really love to see a review of come as you are in toronto, or venus envy in ottawa and halifax.

  10. Alex Catgirl
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Wow, another sex-shop critique! I read all your reviews, you are more academic than than I. My criteria tends to be limited to shop originality, selection/quality and how outrageous I can get before the staff says it’s time for me to go.
    I have a shop suggestion for you – Coco de mer. It’s billed as the first erotic luxury boutique, with 2 locations in London, and a satellite in West Hollywood California. Some of the items in their toy catalogue are works of art.

  11. ldshw
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    yes! venus envy in Halifax is great. i have dropped many a dolla on their goodies over the years

  12. skylark
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Love love love Nomia. I went to college in Maine and this was always a stop when we visited Portland. Their staff is incredibly friendly and helpful. Now I love in Los Angeles and have yet to find anything as wonderful as this. Any tips for those of us in LA?

  13. mariah
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    THIS COMMENT HAS BEEN DELETED BECAUSE IT VIOLATES OUR COMMENT POLICY.

  14. femme.
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    Lovely review, Miriam. I don’t know of any women-run or feminist sex shops in Ohio. If you hear of any, or if anyone does, please let me know! The only queer sex shop/bookstore in my city closed a couple years ago. There are a few queer-friendly shops, but by queer-friendly I mean “queer stuff in the back, 70% of it for cis gay guys.”

  15. mugsandpugs
    Posted August 27, 2009 at 3:07 am | Permalink

    Yes, please. Not only are they a great shop, but they donate gift certificates to our local reproductive rights organizations to be used in fundraising events. They are AWESOME!

  16. Hope
    Posted August 27, 2009 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Babeland in Seattle. I haven’t been in to the store, but I have used their website.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babeland

  17. singforchoices
    Posted August 27, 2009 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Wonderful!

  18. Americanist
    Posted August 27, 2009 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    A Woman’s Touch in Madison, WI!

  19. Synj
    Posted August 27, 2009 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    So, I work all over the place, frequently in small/smallish towns. Last month I was in Center, Texas (about halfway between Dallas and Houston, close to the Louisiana border), and passed by a little shop every time I went into town called “Honeydew”.
    On a day off me and a couple other ladies decided to check it out one day. It was one of the most inclusive and pleasant shops I’ve ever been in. It’s located about a block off the town square.
    I forget the proprietors names, but a wife and husband team run it, and they are really nice and easy to talk to. All the windows are barred and blacked out, not because of the nature of the business but because they have been broken into repeatedly. There are three ‘front’ rooms and four ‘back’ rooms. Front rooms: one is clothes and accessories for small dogs, also they breed toy and teacup dogs; another room is ‘PG’- all kinds of outfits, massage oils and creams, lubes, bath baskets; third room is home canned veggies, jams, and homemade soaps and stuff. Two of those rooms are a bit odd but definitely kept us amused. In the counter are all kinds of little doo-dads (tongue rings, belly rings, finger vibrators, plugs, etc). The back rooms are through a little ‘saloon door’ and there’s a rack of black bags to put your purchases in in case you don’t want anyone else in the store seeing what you are buying, one group let in the back at a time. First room is sort of a party and play and beginner room- goofy things like you find at Spencer’s, small and basic starter toys, crops, ticklers. Second room has a more “for female” feel, dildos, vibrators, more interesting shapes including latex hands and things, double enders, multi-enders, strap ons, harnesses, a few lightweight bondage pieces; Third room has a more “little bit of everything but mostly hetero or lady couples” more dildos and vibrators than i knew existed, as well as light D&M, and a small but rather all-inclusive wall of DVDs (from what I know of porn aimed at different sex and gender preference groups, it seemed all-inclusive, including lesbians with real fingernails). The fourth room was more “adventurous” “all-inclusive” but also “sex for mobility impaired” (the latter of which i rarely, if ever, see), included more dildos and vibrators, clit stimulators, ball stimulators, anal beads, penis extenders, sex chairs, harnesses, swings, balls, strap ons for different body parts (leg, chin, arm), fleshlights, cockrings, manuals, all kinds of stuff. Many of the things had material samples on the outside so you can feel it.
    It was probably one of the most “comfortable” and “clean” feeling stores i’ve ever been to. You should review it!

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