What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term “sex shop?” Skeezy middle-aged virgin men? Tons of porn? Fleshlights? Real dolls? The “jack-shacks?”
I come bringing good news: these tend to be exaggerations! Especially if you avoid the blatantly skeezy sex shops. It may not seem intuitive, but sex shops are actually a great place to go for a date with your partner. They can be a fun and sexy start to a fun and sexy evening.
Most sex shops will specialize in sex toys, outfits, condoms and other things; they will also have a video section. The main difficulty with the sex shop date night is judging when the relationship has been going on long enough for it to not be weird if you broach this topic. This is an example of why open, honest, low-stakes communication with your partner is great.
Sex shops worth going to will have a knowledgeable staff that hit the sweet spot of being helpful while not being invasive. If you are feeling a bit lost or overwhelmed, they can help you find what you’re looking for.
Additionally, you and your partner are entering an entire environment dedicated to sexuality. The whole experience acts as a sort of extended foreplay. You and your partner get to think entirely about having sex with each other, as well as toy around with ideas of what you would like to do or try. It is a fun and titillating experience to wander about and be wholly occupied with the idea of what amazing things you are going to do.
Lastly, trust me, unless your partner is extremely prudish, walking into a sex shop with them for the first time—or just walking in the first time—is a lot less intimidating than people tend to imagine. Have fun, keep an open mind, remember you are surrounded by people who will not judge you and start small. You may be finding yourself thinking, “Gee, that sounds fun, but where should I take my lovely partner?” Good question! I will include some reviews of local shops that my girlfriend and I went to here in the Portland area.
909 N. Beech St., Portland, OR 97227
We really wanted to like this place more than we did. We’d heard a lot that SheBop is a great female and
gay-friendly place. For all the hype it gets, it was decidedly disappointing. The place is absolutely tiny, for starters. It only took me about a dozen paces to go across the entire store. The selection is very small as a result, and has nothing for the BDSM crowd. The products all tended to be on the pricier side as well.
The final nail in the coffin for SheBop was the service. The two people manning the store seemed bored, uncomfortable and standoffish. On the two or three occasions where my girlfriend was actually able to get one of them to talk to her, they had a shocking tendency to walk away before she was done asking a question. About the only positive things I can say are that it is well-lit, clean and definitely not skeezy. In conclusion, ignore the hype; this place is mediocre and overrated.
Fantasy for Adults Only
10720 S.W. Beaverton-
Hillsdale Highway, Beaverton, OR 97005
Let me begin by saying that Fantasy is huge. The place takes up a sizable amount of square footage and spans multiple floors. It has a large selection of merchandise with a very large price range, which is nice. They have merchandise catering to just about any sexual preference—vanilla or kinky, gay or straight. The staff is friendly and helpful. It is well-lit, clean and not skeezy. However, with all these positives, my girlfriend and I found it to be not very exciting and not quite the right fit for us, though we couldn’t put a finger on why. I would suggest giving it a shot for yourself to develop your own opinion.
3300 S.W. Cedar Hills Boulevard, Beaverton, OR 97005
Our favorite, which is also convenient considering it is the closest to our house. Lovers is physically smaller than Fantasy, but it’s still an impressive size. They tend to cater more toward outfits, so if that’s your thing, then this is the place for you. The selection of condoms as well as other toys, vibrators, masturbation aids and dildos of varying types, is impressive. The only real weakness in their selection is that their BDSM and general kink section is underwhelming. However, the staff says that they have had multiple complaints on this matter and hopefully will be remedying it soon.
On the topic of staff, they are extremely helpful and very friendly. The building is well-lit, very clean and not in the slightest bit skeezy. The one other issue with the place beyond the small kink section is that the large windows on the front of the building don’t have curtains, so if you are near the front of the store you are totally visible to the people outside. Going to sex shops isn’t anything to be embarrassed about, but it can definitely be odd being so visible to the outside world while inside one. It is worth noting though that it’s on a busy street, so the cars do go by pretty quickly.