Good Vibrations: the mother of all sex shops!

In keeping with this week’s theme of sex-positivity, I thought I’d shed the spotlight on some wicked retailers who have made it their business to provide customers with an inclusive, inviting, educational place to do their sexy shopping.

The Art of Loving (Vancouver, BC)

Not only do these folks sell an array of toys, clothing and safer sex gear, they are on a mission to enhance pleasure and spread the word about sex positivity!

Babeland (New York, NY. Seattle, WA.)

Formerly known as Toys in Babeland, this store is about so much more than just vibes. These folks sell just about sexy product you can think of! They also have an amazing resource-rich wesbite with everything from sex advice to educational video guides!

Come As You Are (Toronto, Ontario)

A retail collective run by a wonderful gang of sex-nerds who just want to help you enjoy whatever type of sex you like best. In addition to toys, fetish gear and safer sex paraphernalia, CAYA also has a very impressive selection of sex-positive porn.

Good For Her (Toronto, Ontario)

GFH offers special women and trans-only shopping hours on Sundays and welcomes patrons of any gender identity throughout the week. In addition to the retail business, GFH are big supporters of Toronto’s feminist and LGBTTQQ community. They are also founders of the smutty and fabulous Feminist Porn Awards!

Good Vibrations (San Francisco, CA. Berkley, CA. Oakland, CA. Brookline, MA)

The sex selling institution that started it all! These San Francisco folk came up with the radical idea that sex toys could and should be sold in clean well-lit stores by friendly, knowledgable staff. Thirty-five years later,  that idea has become a retail movement and Good Vibrations has six fab locations plus an antique vibrator museum!

Smitten Kitten (Minneapolis, MN)

These sex-savvy Minnesota sellers having been giving their customers the straight-up low-down on sex and pleasure for a decade. The store offers an extensive line of BDSM gear and vegan-friendly products. If you’re not from the land of a thousand lakes, fear not! The Kitten offers international shipping and reasonable rates!

Venus Envy (Ottawa, ON. Halifax, NS)

My home town favourite! VE is an Ottawa institution that’s come a long way from it’s one-woman, home-based start in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Today it boasts two locations which both offer toys, books, safer sex gear and host of sexy, educational workshops!

Womyn’s Ware (Vancouver, BC)

Don’t let the name fool you! While the store is owned and run by women, it is friendly to customers of all gender identites. The founders believe that sexual pleasure is possible for anyone and sell an array of fun, frisky products to help you get there!

Are you a fan of one of these stores? Do you have a favourite sex positive shopping spot that deserves a mention? Let me know about it in the comments!




  1. Don Wilds says:

    What differentiates these stores from ones such as Aren’t We Naughty etc…? My wife is quite conservative sexually. She’s never masterbated for example. With my encouragement she is somewhat open to trying new toys etc… We’ve tried watching porn together, that lasted for about ten minutes before she threw in the towel! We’ve used a dildo which she was not fond of. We used a cheap vibrating egg which she likes but finds it too powerful for her taste. Do you have suggestions for toys and/or activities that I might introduce to her?

    Don Wilds

    • Nadine says:

      Hi Don,

      Thanks for reading and for your questions!

      The best analogy I can make is that Aren’t We Naughty and similar store are like Chapters, whereas these sex shops are something akin to independent bookstores. Both are great and their product focus is similar, they just have a different business approach.

      Sex positive stores specifically promote sexual diversity by offering products that are meant to appeal to customers of different ages, gender identities, sexual orientations, body sizes and abilities. The larger chain stores sell a lot of product from mass-producers like Playboy. The indie stores will carry some of those products, but also have more on offer from local and smaller indepedent companies.

      Most sex-positive stores carry health-related stuff like alternative menstrual products, as well as toys. The aesthetics of the stores are usually designed to be as comfortable as possible for customers who might be intimidated by a mainstream sex shop. The stores are certainly bright, but with soft often natural light. You won’t see a lot of neon signage or flourescent track lighting, nor will it be dark and shady.

      Most sex-positive stores will a display area with unpackaged toys and products available for customers to look at and touch if they so choose. Sex toys often come in boxes with pictures of scantily-clad young, slender, able-bodied women. There nothing wrong with these women, but being confronted by a store-full of packaging that reinforces one specific idea about what “sexy” looks like can feel intimidating and oppressive for a lot of people, so the sex-pos shops usually avoid it.

      There are usually more books, a selection of carefully curated adult films and a lot of product marketed specifically towards customers who identify as female, feminist, poly and/or queer.

      As for toys you might try, if your partner likes the egg but finds a bit intense, something like the Laya Spot might be nice. It’s very quiet and has a large range of speeds. It provides similar stimulation to an egg but it’s a little bit wider and softer so the vibration gets diffused a bit more:

      Also, if she’s open to it, you might want to see if anyone offers an introductory sex toy workshop in your area. But the most important thing is not pressure her. Toys and porn are great and there’s nothing wrong with inviting someone to try them out, but in the end, if they aren’t into it, we gotta respect that. :-)

      • Don Wilds says:

        Thankyou for your response! Very interesting! As a man believe it or not sex-pos stores are a bit intimidating! My perception (which may be way off) is that as you mentioned have a great deal of offerings for the LGBTQ. I know they have product for all, but I feel as though everyone in there will be LGBTQ. Not that I have a big problem with that, just a bit uneasy as I would feel as if I am intruding to an extent! Plus with Venus Envy located off Bank (Gay Village???) It only goes to reinforce my perception! I know my fears are silly and most likely unjustified, but that’s how I feel as a man and probably I am not unique. Just wondering if u can put my fears to rest? Although going in with my wife will make me big, strong and brave! Lol

        As for my wife… I would never get pushy but as I said with some encouragement she is interested, but do to her conservative attitude (for lack of a better term) I think it will be more difficult picking out items that are “just right” and I am afraid if I get it wrong the first time she won’t be up for a second attempt! Thanks for the advice we’ll check out the Laya Spot! I’ll let you know how it all turns out! And/or blog about it at

        One last question… I’ve had a lot of experiences but never been with a woman who will touch her body and/or masterbate during intimacy with me. As I mentioned my wife has never masterbated before. I’ve asked her to touch her body before and she is not interested. Do you feel it would be too much to broach it again and ask her to masterbate? I know it can’t really hurt to ask (and I probably will) but what is your opinion?

        Thanks again!!!!! Love your blog I’ll be following regularly for now on!

        • Nadine says:

          When I worked at Venus Envy, the clientele was very diverse and that mix of people included lots of couples and straight dudes. Believe me when I say that you’ll be very welcome.

          As for asking your wife to masturbate in front of you, that can be a very intimidating prospect for someone, especially if, like your wife, masturbation isn’t something they enjoy doing period.

          if you think broaching the subject again might work, I’d suggest treading lightly. Ask your wife if she’d be willing to have a conversation about it. Assure her that there’s no pressure and that you won’t ask her to do anything she doesn’t want to do. If she’s open to talking, try explaining to her what you find exciting out watching her masturbate. Ask her how she feels about it. If she’s not into, you probably need to let it go. But if she’s willing to consider it, you’re off to a good start.

          After the initial discussion, assuming she’s open to thinking about masturbation, give her some time to process before you bring it up again. At least a couple of weeks. Ask if you can talk again. Ask how she’s feeling about it. If she’s still game, ask what she would need to feel safe, if she were to do this. Reassure her that you will do those things. Reassure her again, that’s there’s no pressure. This will only happen if she wants it to.

          It may take several conversation like this. She may also want to get confortable masturbating on her own before she takes on an audience. Or she may no to the whole deal. Be supportive, patient, gentle and totally respectful of her boundaries. I can’t promise that she’s agree but the more she can trust you, the easier it will be for her to make herself sexually vulnerable with you.

          Hope this helps!

  2. Vick Ko says:

    “Venus Envy” and “The Art of Loving” are my favourite.

    I was at “Northbound Leather” over the weekend, nice specialization on leather and fetish gear.

    • Nadine says:

      I’ve never heard of Northbound Leather. Where are they located?

      I’m oddly fascinated by leather gear even though I don’t use it a lot. I love large, leather crops and floggers. Also? Cuffs. I find them so beautiful!

  3. Maranda says:

    Are there not any stores like this in Ottawa?