I admit, I love shopping on-line. The ease of it, the privacy, and almost unlimited choice in items! However, I still love checking out a well-equipped brick and mortar store. There are things that you simply can’t get unless you get off your butt and do some off-line browsing. That holds true for sex toys and intimate apparel.
1. imagined inches are always shorter
When I got my first vibe I was shocked at the size. I ordered it on-line and even tough the dimensions were listed just above the „buy now” button, I was still completely unprepared. In hindsight it was a pretty standard sized rabbit, but for me – a teen new to vaginal penetration – it still was way too big (and toxic). If I visited a sex shop beforehand I would know to look for „small” and „petite” if I decided to order on-line. Or, intimidated , I would have left the store with a non-penetrative toy. Both options would be a lot more pleasurable than forcing my body to like that I got instead of getting what I liked.
That was 10 years ago, now on-line shops have videos or even scaled photos of their wares. Nevertheless, I still recommend that toy newbies visit an off-line store just to see how 7” length and 1.5” girth looks like.
2. some things just have to be felt
Right now every toy that has a motor is billed as super-powerful and earth-shaking, while very few actually are. A lot of the vibrators just aren’t that well developed when it comes to motors. Some are just plain weak, some have the power but utilize it in a clit-numbingly buzzing ways. There is just no way to tell. Neither the look, nor the price can tell us what’s inside. Only feeling the toy in our hand, listening to the timbre of the vibrations, can we get the most of the bang for our money.
Not only electronics are better chosen in person. The finish of the toy – whether a dildo or a clit vibe, can differ widely. Is the silicone powdery or rough – that can’t be decided from just looking at the photos. Is it squishy or firm? How firm, exactly? Does the handle fit comfortably in our hand or is it awkward? Are the buttons easy to operate or do they need to be pressed really hard?
3. partnered trips are the bomb
On-line shopping is just fine when we know exactly what we want – with the help of a few reviews we can usually land a really good product. But what if what we want most is inspiration? What if we don’t know what we lack but “we’ll know it when we see it”? Then a trip to a sex shop is in order. Even better idea is taking our SO with us – who knows what we are going to find out about our turn ons?! We might surprise each other and ourselves.
4. no shipping
On-line shopping has one major drawback - shipping. Not only does it add costs and waiting time but sometimes boxes can come banged up, or worse – our item is dead on arrival. Thankfully discretion is a standard these days. No one is going to send out a package that screams “sex toy”. However, I was shocked to find out that in the US it is standard practice to leave packages unattended on porches! And what about nosy family? By bringing the item home in our shopping bag we can avoid all of those problems and make sure that our toy is ready to be used right away.
Unfortunately my town is too small to have adult sex ed classes, but a lot of quality sex shops in larger cities have them. Some of them are free, some require a small speaker fee. The topics range from vanilla to advanced BDSM. Not only are those classes given by knowledgeable speakers but there is usually an Q&A section that gives us an opportunity to get advice tailored to our circumstances and difficulties – something we can’t get from a book.
There are a lot of good sex shops out there, not just in the US (for those, check out RedheadBedhead’s blog!). Big cities such as Toronto, Sydney or London have tens of them – click on the links to check out the best ones! Those lists include not only regular, mostly vanilla establishments, but also specialty fetish stores. Some of them, like Sh! have their own toy lines.