So Much More Than Just Population Control and Orgasmic Artillery

I recently stumbled across an article entitled Confessions of a Sex-Shop Salesgirl. I read it with interest, for obvious reasons. In my three years working at/managing an adult toy store, I learned a lot. And it is a completely different experience than I expected it to be. I walked in with expectations and those were quickly shattered and surpassed. The job ended up changing the direction of my life, the way that I thought about sex, and ultimately, the way I lived my life.
When I worked there and was blogging, I was careful not to disclose the location of my store. However, now that I no longer live in the area and have not worked there in a little over a year, I don’t mind talking about it.

My store was located on Newbury Street, which is one of the busiest tourist areas in Boston. It is a street approximately 9 blocks long that is consists almost entirely of stores and restaurants. We were not in a sketchy area, and aside from the bars that we had to have on our windows due to a previous burglary, nothing about us was typical of an adult toy store. No blackout windows, no neon sign, none of that. While we carried the novelties for bachelor and bachelorette parties, we really did try to cater to the quality items that people wanted. The staff took it upon ourselves to become as educated as possible so that we could answer any and all questions that came our way.

When I first started working at CW, I expected it to be a lot of fun (which it was) and basically just a huge joke that I could go home and tell my friends about (which it was not). However, I found that I enjoyed helping people improve their sex lives. It takes a lot of guts for some people to come in and open up to me, a complete stranger, about their sex lives. And if they work up the courage to come in and ask a question, then I want to be able to help them honestly and completely. Their sex life is not a joke to them, so why should it be a joke to me?
Reading the customers was difficult at first, but something that I got a feel for the longer I worked there. I had to be able to tell which customers were going to be receptive to help, and approach them in the way that I thought would best fit the personality of the person. Did I need a gentle approach? A funny approach? A professional approach? A more laid back approach? A reassuring approach? If I approached a customer with a joke when in actuality they were hoping that I take my job insanely seriously, I would lose any chance I had of helping that person. And the goal is to get that person to allow you to help them, because chances are they have no idea what they are looking at and desperately need your help. Otherwise they will walk out of the store with one of the default first timer’s vibes which, chances are, they will end up hating and then will never buy another toy.
I never knew that there was so much to know about condoms and lubricant. It was important to learn the information, because if someone came in complaining that they had tried Condom A, Condom B, and Condom C, none of which worked for the following reason, I needed to be able to understand what that reason was and point them to Condom D which would be different and better for their situation. If a woman is prone to yeast infections or has allergies, I needed to know what lubricants have ingredients that could be causing or exacerbating the problem. We needed to know more than what was on the product label because if we didn’t, then what was the point of what we were doing?
If someone came in looking for a vibrator, our wall containing hundreds of different vibes could be completely overwhelming. It was my job to make the wall smaller and less intimidating. Are they looking for vibrating or non-vibrating? Clitoral stimulation, internal stimulation, or both? Price range? Roommates? Noise factor? And so on. It was important to be able to help them understand what they wanted, because most of the time, until you asked them those questions, chances were that they didn’t know what they were looking for either.
Something I learned while working at an adult toy store: to the layperson, every sex toy is a dildo (whether it vibrates or not) and if you don’t know what something does, it must go in your butt. So, being able to decipher what they actually wanted, and not what they thought they wanted, was a very important skill to have.
My job description was more “sex educator, life coach, therapist” than “retail employee”. Sometimes, just the relief on someone’s face when they realized that I was not going to judge them was enough to open the flood gates. Just the reassurance that I would help them find whatever it was that they were looking for was all they really wanted.
The customers were what made the job rewarding. When someone would thank me profusely for helping them find what they had been looking for for years, or would come back to tell us how much they appreciated our help, that made what we were doing worth it. The return customers let you know that you are doing your job well. I don’t care what you do in the bedroom, as long as you  enjoy it. Although, the people with the weird questions never warned you. When someone came in and said, “I have a weird question,” it was usually followed by, “Can you recommend me a lubricant?” That is not a weird question.
When someone actually had a weird question there was absolutely no preparation. They would walk right up and say, “I’m looking for a butt plug approximately the size of a parking cone.” And it was my job to stay composed, smile, and attempt to help them find exactly what they were looking for. And if we didn’t carry it, I would try to help them find somewhere that did. Because it was more important to me that people got what they were looking for instead of pushing something on them that they didn’t really want. Plus, if I help them find what they want, chances are they will remember that and come back next time because they know that I have their best interests at heart.
And the last question you would be asked as we were bagging your purchases was always, “Would you like batteries with that?” You’d be an idiot not to say yes.
How did I do, Jess? Anything to add?
This entry was posted in Population Control and Orgasmic Artillery, Sex Miscellany, Sexuality. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. The Promo Homo
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 3:07 am | Permalink


    Nothing to add. Very well done. :)

  2. twg
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    I buy my batteries in bulk from CostCo, thanks :)

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Product Review: Crystal Delights Glass Plug on March 17, 2010 at 11:44 am

    [...] (which I will not be using, as I’ve tasted them before when I had to blow them up as part of my job at the adult toy store. Not a big fan of the taste, but I appreciate the encouragement of safe sex/safe oral sex) and a [...]

  2. By What’s In Your Box: Rose on June 1, 2010 at 12:03 am

    [...] is a really special submission, because it comes from my friend Rose, who worked with me at the toy store in [...]

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