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Sex Toy ShoppingWalking into a sex toy shop for the first time can be an intimidating task.  What if I pick something up to look at it and everyone looks at me?  What if the store clerk laughs at me? What if I see something freaky and I trip and fall into a display of butt plugs? Who knows what will be in there on those shelves.  Oh my god, do they even have shelves?    

Even if you are feeling calmer than this you might be wondering how you are ever going to decide what to buy if you have never had a toy before.  Article to the rescue!  You're about to get all the very best advice from someone who has sold (and bought) a lot of sex toys.  By the time you are done reading this you will be fortified with knowledge that will make the process, if not painless, a heck of a lot easier.

They're all gonna laugh at me!

Trust me, everyone has this fear to some degree because shopping in a sex toy store means that you are taking your personal sexual desires in to a public realm. Of course, if you find you enjoy your sex toy store experience, you will come back the next time less nervous.  Eventually you may relish the opportunity to talk about sexuality in a public place.  You might even find that you are now attending classes at your local sex toy shop or are on friendly terms with your sex toy salesperson.  This really does happen.  There is something freeing about being a part of a community of people who value sexuality and pleasure enough that they are willing to be forthright about it.

Beyond that I can tell you that there is very little chance that anyone in the store is paying undue attention to you or any product you might be holding.  Having been the employee in a sex toy shop I've noticed that everyone is so wrapped up in whatever item they came for that they don't spend much time scrutinizing other people's purchases (OPP).  As far as the sales clerk, please remember that they work in a sex toy shop.  They have chosen this job because of a passion for sex education, a passion for sex, a sense of adventure in the forbidden, or some combination of these elements.  Actually, let's talk a bit more about what you should expect from your sex toy salesperson.

Quality Service
In my opinion, the best sex toy salespeople have taken on their jobs because they enjoy helping people find what brings them pleasure.  My personal standards are that a salesperson should have a good knowledge of anatomy and sexual function and should also have given some thought to the human side of sex.  They should handle any question with calm and grace and be willing to admit when they don't know the answer.  It doesn't hurt if they are good at looking up the answer when they don't know the answer.  They will probably ask you questions in order to get more information about what product will be most helpful to you.  If they are good at their job they will make you feel comfortable and you will find yourself leaving the store with more information than you had before and excitement about getting home to try your toy.

Unfortunately, this is not the kind of service you will receive everywhere.  Sometimes you will get the well meaning but a completely clueless employee.  These people generally have a good sense of fun and a nice smile, but when you ask them a question, "Does this lube have glycerine in it?" or "I'm interested in starting to play with my ass.  Any recommendations?" they will look at you blankly.  They say things like, "This one looks fun!" or they read the back of the package to you as if you couldn't do that yourself.  Not helpful, but golly they are nice.  Very occasionally you will enter a shop and the employees will be snotty, leering, sneering little shits.  These people and these shops are not worth your time.  Don't let them make you think there is something wrong with you or your desires.  Take a minute to think about how sad it is that they are taking up time, space, and air that would be better spent by someone who cared about their job. Should you encounter anyone in the store that is judging you, it is best to just go somewhere else.

Sex Toy Feng Shui

It is oh so helpful when stores have floor model toys on the shelves so that you can touch them.  Only through touching can you discover how the toy feels and works.    Boxes and sales blurbs can be deceiving. Feel the weight of the item in your hand, get a sense of the texture and the vibration if applicable. This is especially important with the lubes as you really need to feel these between your fingers to know if they will work for your specific needs (See my lube article for more info on the wide world of lubes).  And make sure to taste them!   There is nothing worse than getting a nice new lube and realizing it has a bitter aftertaste the first time you get some in your mouth.

Meant for Each Other: Finding your Perfect Toy

One of the questions I heard most working at the Smitten Kitten was, "I've never bought a toy before and I have no idea where to start.  Help!".  Ok, let me level with you here.  You may not find your perfect toy the very first time.  Part of the fun of sex toys is the experimentation and as you try more toys you will start to get a sense of what works for you and what doesn't.  Eventually you will reach a state of sex toy nirvana in which you realize there there is no perfect toy, but there may be a toy that is perfect for this moment.  That said, if you think about what you already know about your body and your fantasies, you have a good chance of finding a toy that turns you on and gets you off.

What are you interested in trying?  Are you a woman trying to orgasm or make your orgasms bigger and stronger?  A clitoral vibrator sounds like a good idea for you.  Have your most recent fantasies been about anal play?  How about a butt plug to help you figure out if you like anal play in reality?  Looking to switch things up with your partner?  What about a strap on?  Your fantasies will be a big clue into what toys will be hot for you.  No fantasies coming to mind?  Take a walk around the store and see if anything looks exciting.  Sometimes you know what you want because when you lay eyes on it you feel a tingle down your spine or between your legs.

Let's say you already have an idea of what you are looking for and you are trying to decide between different varieties.  Use the knowledge you have of your body to guide your choice.  When looking at dildos, think of how much penetration you have enjoyed in the past and try not to go much bigger than least to start.  With vibrating toys you can hold them in your hand and think about how much pressure you use when masturbating.  Does this toy seem like it will have enough power to bring you to orgasm?  Do you think you will like the higher pitched buzzing toys or the lower, thuddier toys?  For anal toys, if you like the in-out of thrusting, a dildo might be for you. If you prefer a sense of fullness, get a butt plug!.  You may never have tried a toy before but chances are you have some good knowledge of your body that can transfer to this situation.  If you don't have any body knowledge yet, congratulations!  You have so much fun exploring ahead of you that I'm a little jealous!  Sex toy homework has been the best homework EVER!

Final Tips

*Don't be afraid to ask!  That is why the salespeople are there.  Chances are they have personal experience or have received feedback from others about these toys.  Make use of their knowledge but use some tact when asking questions. I always thought it was kinda rude when people asked me flat out if I had personal experience with a toy.  By all means, question the salesclerk's knowledge and ask them if they have experience with the subject.  But you will probably get better service if you don't ask the clerk direct questions about their sexual experience.

•Consider shopping online.  Not all of us have access to a sex toy store that makes us feel comfortable and provides good product information.  If you have had negative experiences with a store near you or just don't have access to a store locally, go online and find something wonderful.  The best online stores will have a phone number that you can call to ask questions about their products.

•Remember that this is fun.  Whether your shopping experience ends up being sexy, informative, or embarrassingly funny remember that pursuing your pleasure is an exciting thing.

Now go get 'em tiger!

Write the Author: Laura Rad

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Kidder Kaper

Kidder has been theorizing and writing about human sexuality since 1993, when he began work on his primary goal: "Teaching the world to be unafraid to enjoy sex."


Laura Rad

Laura Rad has been educating herself and others about sexuality for over seven years. You can find Laura every week chatting with the crew of the Sex is Fun Podcast.


Gay Rick

Gay Rick is an HIV Educator and Co-Host on the Sex is Fun podcast. He is also a certified Hepatitis C Educator.



The in-house audio engineer.


John Stark

John writes a blog titled We Sleep Together. He is in his twenties, and has been in an open relationship for six and some years.



The Walrus is an avid SIF listener, married, and recently became a proud father. He spends his days working in IT, but has always been interested in pushing the boundaries of traditional and conservative thoughts sexually.


Cooper Beckett

Cooper Beckett's life isn't like other people's. When he's not writing or podcasting at Life on the Swingset, he's living it up with his wife Marilyn as evangelical swingers, spreading the good word that "sharing is caring."


Beth Swings

Beth is an English rose, happily married and happily swinging in the UK and abroad. She has a full-time vanilla career which she loves. Beth counts sex and naturism among her many extra-curricular passions in life.


Mari Rose

Mari Rose and her family live in Colorado, love life and do their best to maintain balance and sanity and in this crazy, sexy, beautiful world.



Lorax runs everything behind the scenes at Sex is Fun. If she's not maintaining the website, gathering articles, or directing art you can find her wakeboarding or snowboarding with her husband.