Feminist Sex Shop reviews: Good Vibrations

I finally got to visit one of the classic (and often cited) sex shops this past week in San Francisco, Good Vibrations. The San Francisco store is most famous for originally functioning as a worker-owned sex toy collective (as are relatively common in SF) but in 2005, the cooperative structure was abandoned and they became a more traditional corporate entity.
I never visited the store before 2005, so I can’t say from first hand experience, but I’ve heard that the store has changed a lot in that time. Good Vibrations also has locations in Berkeley and Brookline Massachusetts.
I found Good Vibes to be a pretty mainstream, though well-stocked, sex shop. Nothing in their company policies talks explicitly about feminism, but they do talk about being woman-focused, social change oriented and employing fair labor practices.


To be honest, looking over the mission and vision on their website gave me a much different impression that the store itself. The policies have a lot of discussion that I appreciate, particularly this statement about their “sex and gender policy:”

Good Vibrations has long accepted that gender and sex are subjective notions. The Good Vibrations Mission Statement champions diversity and difference as valuable facets of sexuality. All staff members have the right to present any gender or sex with the expectation that they will be supported and respected by the rest of the staff, including and not limited to names and pronoun usage appropriate to their gender identity. We invite you to read the Good Vibrations Sex and Gender Policy Good Vibrations Sex and Gender Policy.

The store itself, however, struck me as more mainstream mostly because of the size and strong Good Vibrations branding. They had a lot of GV products, things like the “sexcessories kit” or the “friday nite delight kit.”
I think my impression of the store may be more from expectation of what a worker-owned sex toy shop would be like, and to be totally honest, possibly some feminist sex toy shop burnout. At this point I’ve visited more than ten different shops around the country, so it’s the unique touches and pecularities that stand out.
Overall, Good Vibes has all the staples of a good feminist sex shop, including a wide range of toys, books and movies, products that are good for our bodies and staff who are knowledgeable and willing to do education for the customers.
Check them out online or in San Francisco, Berkeley or Brookline Massachusetts.
Previous Reviews:
SheBop in Portland Oregon
Nomia in Portland Maine
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

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3 Comments

  1. Chris H
    Posted January 4, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Two nitpicks:
    First, Good Vibes, sadly enough, hasn’t been a worker-owned venture for several years. It was sold to Joel Kaminsky a few years back during some severe financial difficulties.
    Second, you refer to “the San Francisco store”; there’s actually two different stores in SF, one on Valencia street and one on Polk Street.

  2. Tara K.
    Posted January 4, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Miriam, I’ve always wanted to find a feminist sex shop that also sold lingerie, costumes, and fetish wear in their online store. Does any such exist? Correct me if I’ve missed one in a previous post.
    Also, I think someone should organize a tour of feminist sex shops in the U.S. At least video.

  3. Posted January 5, 2010 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Tara – have you ever checked our http://www.pureromance.com? The selection is slightly limited when it comes to apparel, but they also have bondage items, tons of foreplay, toys, etc.
    They are in-home parties for adult women. They are great becuase they really support women in being comfortable with their sexuality and knowing their bodies, how to be healthy & sexual, and being responsible.
    And I agree with a tour of feminist sex shops. Sounds like a fabulous idea!

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