So I’m in a sex shop today, because that’s the kind of thing I do on a Tuesday morning. (And they ask me why I work for myself.)
It’s fairly new, and it’s one of those women’s only deals that markets nice things, not sleazy things. Body balms, belly dancing costumes, very lovey dovey. It’s a good idea, and from what I can tell, business is going gangbusters. (Do things “go gangbusters” or do they “do gangbusters”? Is “gangbusters” really a word I should be using when discussing sex shops?)
So I go in and it’s all pink lighting and nice displays and there is a zero sleaze factor. There’s even a sign on the door that says, very politely, that they don’t sell novelty items so don’t even ask. Everything is going well. My could-be shopping experience is all good.
There is a charming little dog that comes up and sniffs my shoes and then goes back to biting his chew toy. There is a woman behind the counter talking to someone on the phone. The person she’s speaking to appears to be her girlfriend. She says the F-word a lot, but in a nice way, like I do.
By all accounts, this is the kind of a place I wouldn’t mind shopping.
So I head over to the books, the DVDs, the massage oils. There are even locally made massage balms that come in 100% post-consumer recycled tins. What more can you want in a sex shop? I mean, really!
I pick up a set of three of these little balms, very much like the Body Butters that you buy at the Body Shop. These things are so classy I would give them to my mother-in-law in her Christmas stocking. They’re beautiful. They have little testers that smell heavenly. I’m a little bit in love. I turn over the tin to see the price, bracing myself for something I imagine will be terrifying.
Oh, it’s terrifying alright. There’s no price.
Hmm. Weird. I look at the other ones. No price. No price, no price, no price. No price on the movies, no price on the books, no price on the belly dancing bindi things. There’s a sign that says clothes and candles are 50% off, but 50% off what, we’ll never know.
Everybody’s heard the term, “If you have to ask, it’s too expensive.” This is true when it comes to high-end call girls and Lamborghini’s, but I don’t think it should be true in retail stores located between a teapot shop and a dog groomer. We’re not exactly on Saville Row here, people.
Here’s a little lesson for sex shops everywhere:
“How much for the pink vibrator?” is not a question anyone ever wants to have to ask.
I’ve said it a trillion times before, and I’ll keep saying it until I’m dead.
Eliminate barriers to purchase.
Making me say “vibrator” in front of my toddler constitutes a barrier to purchase. If I feel uncomfortable, I’m going to leave. If I’m going to leave, I’m not going to buy. Bottom line.
Lesson for everyone who does NOT run a sex shop: Have someone impartial and inexperienced check your sales process for barriers. Have them try to buy something from your online store. Have them try out the Contact form on your website. Listen to what they say. You might be surprised.
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Originally published in 2008.