After almost 14 years in the pleasure industry, I sometimes forget that pleasure and sex toys aren’t necessarily at the forefront of everyone else’s mind. Thinking about these topics is second nature to me — not just because it’s my career, but because I’m super passionate about sex in my personal life and relationships. I have spent a good part of my life spreading awareness about pleasure and the importance of body autonomy, but there was an awful lot I didn’t know before I started working in this industry.
That’s not surprising. Sex education in schools is often severely outdated, or sometimes completely lacking. There are also still stigmas around sex, masturbation and pleasure. For many people, their local adult shop is a place where they can find not only products, but answers to questions they might not feel comfortable asking elsewhere. Here is a list of the questions customers most frequently bring to our staff, and the answers or feedback we typically offer.
“What is your best/favorite toy?”
Answer: “I can show you of some of our top sellers and we can see if any of them catch your interest. All bodies are different, so it’s important to remember that not all people experience pleasure the same way. For example, most vagina owners don’t orgasm from penetration alone and need clitoral stimulation too. Some don’t enjoy penetration at all and want clitoral stim only. Finding out your individual likes and dislikes will help greatly in picking out a toy.”
“What toy is the strongest?”
Answer: “Are you interested in a strong vibration? If so, I can show you some toys that have a powerful motor and we can start there.”
This will help begin a conversation with the customer. Once we have more information from them, we can go to other areas of the store. I typically lean toward showing the customer a massager. They are good for solo and partner play. In my opinion, everyone should own a wand once in their lifetime.
“What is the biggest dildo you carry?”
Answer: “We have toys of all shapes and sizes to fit everyone’s needs. I believe we have a 15-inch dong in-store currently.”
If the customer makes a negative reference of any kind, we inform them, “We don’t yuck anyone else’s yum.” It’s important to make your customers feel safe and comfortable while shopping in your store. It doesn’t happen often, but if someone is warned and continues to be disrespectful, you can ask them to leave the store.
“What is the best lubricant you carry?”
Answer: “We have several of the top lubricant brands on the market in-store.”
Before showing the customer your top-selling or favorite lubricant, be sure you know what their needs are. If a customer has sensitive skin or is prone to infections, try suggesting a lubricant that is glycerin- and paraben-free. The fewer ingredients, the better. Other customers may be looking for flavored lubricant or possibly a warming lubricant that provides a different sensation.
“Which lubricant is good for my toy?”
Answer: As a basic rule of thumb, water-based lubricants are best for all silicone toys. We inform customers that some silicone lubricants can break down the silicone material of a toy over time. Silicone lubricants are great for water and anal play.
“Which anal plug should I get for a beginner?”
Answer: “If you are new to anal play, we suggest trying a small, flexible beginner plug. You can then work your way up to larger plugs and ones that are weighted or vibrate. Anal play can be scary, and some people worry about the pain. Anal sex should not be painful. I can’t stress that enough!”
We always recommend lubricant for any type of anal play. At times I’ll even go further and give the customer a handout on anal play. Some vendors provide these to retailers to pass out. Side note: We do not suggest numbing creams because if the skin tears, the user won’t feel it and may cause more damage.
“Does working here affect your sex life or relationships?”
Answer: “It enhances my relationships because I am comfortable with my body and communicating my needs and sexual desires to a partner. My career is just as valid and needed as your dentist. I am lucky enough to be able to spread joy to those I meet by sharing my knowledge and experiences.”
Our society has come a long way toward embracing sexuality, but we still have a way to go. Working in adult retail offers a unique perspective on the kinds of information that consumers are requesting, and being able to anticipate their needs helps us to serve them better. This industry has made my life more rewarding and fulfilling, so I take my own and my customers’ pleasure seriously!