Taboos and 24-hours and superstores, oh my

In a fabulous merger of the sexual revolution and the women’s rights movement, female-friendly sex toy stores have opened and thrived in America’s most progressive cities.

In a fabulous merger of the sexual revolution and the women’s rights movement, female-friendly sex toy stores have opened and thrived in America’s most progressive cities.  There is Babeland in Seattle and New York City, Good Vibrations in San Francisco, and now—because we’re just that good—both the 20-year-old It’s My Pleasure and the brand-new She Bop (The Shop) are here in beautiful Portland, Ore.

These stores are staffed by knowledgeable, welcoming and non-judgmental employees (usually women, though not always) and are stocked with pornography and sex toys designed to please and appeal to the female gender.

They are totally awesome.

Most sex toy stores are marketing to men, not women, and inside their black-papered doors, graphic imagery reigns supreme. Photographs (and film) of women with giant breast implants are prominently displayed, and dildos with names like “The Inmate” hang from the store racks¬¬.

This environment makes many sexy and adventurous women feel unwelcome and uncomfortable—even intimidated—and quite frankly, no one should be shopping for a vibrator under those conditions. 

So, good women of Portland: Prepare yourselves for a lovely afternoon foray (or two or three or 17) into the world of sex toys and accessories. You have not one, but two, great locally-owned sex toy stores to choose from, and you owe it to your foremothers to pay them both a visit.

It’s My Pleasure

This may be the original female-friendly sex toy store. IMP originally opened in 1991 on Hawthorne Boulevard, and 10 years later the high-and-rising rent forced owner Holly Mulcahey to move her business. She bought a house in a mixed-zoning area on Northeast 64th Avenue, just off Sandy Boulevard, and IMP has thrived there, too. Now that Holly’s retiring and leaving her lovechild to a long-time employee, IMP is on the hunt for another new location—no leads yet.

The current location on 64th Avenue is discreet and homey. A white picket fence and flower garden preface the entrance, and inside there are three distinct areas: The main room, the side room and the back room.

The main room is home to the cashier’s counter, as well as the lubricants and knick-knacks like bumper stickers and party favors. The lubricant selection is impressive, and a large handmade chart representing which lubricant features (water-based, organic, flavored, etc.) match which brand is an extremely helpful tool for making a smart purchase.

The side room is stocked with books and movies. There is a comfortable reading chair, if you’d like to sit down and peruse, as well as a table of complimentary tea, coffee and snacks. The books cover the bases, from She Comes First to Tickle His Pickle, and there are erotic and comic selections too. The movies are carefully selected pornography, most notably featuring the Crash Pad series (a professionally produced queer and lesbian series featuring amateur stars), the Comstock films (erotic documentary films featuring real couples) and the Candida Royale films (by women, for women).

The back room is where a shopper can find everything from condoms to strap-ons. Every vibrator and dildo in stock has a “tester” lying beside it—you are welcome to touch and test everything in the store—and there is a wide variety to choose from. Some vibrators and dildos are designed as penis replacements, and they look like the real thing. Others are designed to be pretty, sleek or small. Signs detailing IMP’s return policy are posted on the walls, as are Dan Savage columns, interesting articles, pregnancy and STD statistics for the state of Oregon, comic strips and a Consumer Report chart comparing condom brands. You could leave this store well informed without ever having asked a question.

IMP is lesbian-friendly, and they have all of the little details that come with 20 years of experience. They can also make special orders, and frequently hold classes. Some are taught by staff, others by visiting experts, and topics range from “How to Build an Open Relationship” to “G-Spot Stimulation.”

She Bop

Everything about She Bop is cute. From the name (seriously, naming a sex toy boutique after a song about female masturbation is even cuter than Cindy Lauper singing it in the first place) to the toys in stock (ticklers, anyone?), this shop very much belongs in its location on North Mississippi Avenue. Even better, SB delivers all of the fresh and fun-loving energy you’d hope for from a store owned by two long-time friends.

As the store’s name implies, the focus here is on female masturbation. There are no strap-ons or rubber penises; rather, there are dozens and dozens of vibrators to choose from, in many shapes, sizes and price ranges. Some look like small animals, some look like neck massagers; some are silicone, some are pink plastic; some are very high-end, some are novelty. All of them are quality, and every model has a “tester” beside the box for you to turn on and judge.

While SB may focus on female masturbation, that priority does not detract from educational tools or couples’ toys. There are books and movies for purchase, as well as an impressive selection of educational sex films for rent. SB also holds classes in the store, primarily featuring guest expert instructors on topics ranging from burlesque dance to fellatio. And their selection of soaps, massage oils and lubricants are focused on responsible organic ingredients and local companies.

She Bop is a lot like a shoe boutique, but the first night you take your purchase out of the box you get an orgasm instead of a blister. Enjoy!

It’s My Pleasure
3106 NE 64th Ave.
Open 7 days a week.

She Bop
909 N. Beech St.
Open 7 days a week.