Visiting a Sex Shop for the First Time? Here's What to Expect
Alright you lovely, sexy human beings – today, we’re tackling one of the biggest questions we hear from new customers: What’s it like to go to a sex shop?
Maybe you’ve visited WinkWink before, but still get a little pinch of nerves when you walk in, or maybe you’ve walked past our shop a few times, only to find yourself too embarrassed to come in every. Single. Time.
Either way, we want you to know that you are NOT alone – the stigma around sex that is still ever-present in our society has made it the norm to feel nervous, embarrassed, or ashamed to talk about literally anything sex-related. So of course you feel anxious to come into our shop that’s packed with colorful dildos galore, sparkly vibrators everywhere you look, and everything your sex life could ever desire!
That’s why we wanted to put together this guide to what to expect when you visit a sex shop for the first time: to help calm any nerves you might be feeling by telling you exactly what to expect, how to prepare, and how to make your first sex shop experience super positive + shame-free!
In this guide to visiting a sex shop for the first time, we’ll be covering:
- FAQ’s about visiting sex shops
- The benefits of shopping at a sex shop in-person vs. online
- The main categories of toys + items you’ll find in a sex shop
- The dos & don’ts of visiting a sex shop, as well as general sex shop etiquette
We hope this helps you feel not only ready for your first sex shop experience, but excited, empowered, and confident. Happy shopping!
FAQ’s About Visiting Sex Shops
Are all sex shops kinda weird/uncomfortable?
Absolutely not! There are definitely plenty of sex shops that aren’t quite the most welcoming, or that you immediately feel weird walking into – especially some of the larger companies that are more focused on selling products than intentaionlly creating a welcoming space for their customers. If the only sex shop you’ve been to made you feel suuuper uncomfy and unsure of what to do/what to buy, you haven’t found the right sex shop for you yet!
At WinkWink, our entire goal is to make our customers feel safe, welcome, affirmed, and empowered above all else. There’s a reason our Instagram bio says “inclusive, all-ages, & not creepy” – because unfortunately we’re all too familiar with the sex shops that do feel kinda creepy, unsafe, and just plain weird.
We want to help people of all genders, sexualities, desires, and personalities feel confident coming into our shop, knowing that they’re there to find something that they love, and that they will never have to feel uncomfortable walking through our doors!
Will employees judge me for what I buy/what I’m into?
They shouldn’t – and if they do, it’s time to find another sex shop!
Employees (whether they’re salespeople, customer assistants, or a manager) of sex shops should be ready to welcome in customers no matter who they are, what they’re looking for, or what they’re into.
At WinkWink, we want folks to know that they’re valid, they are NOT weird, and that we’ve heard it all – seriously. Nothing can surprise us anymore, so you never have to worry about us judging you if you ask a certain question or buy a certain toy! Plus, we’re all about confidentiality and will never share anything you ask us with, well, anyone else – there’s no reason to.
Our shop slogan says it all: “Come one + come all!” (in more ways than one – yes, that double entendre was absolutely intentional) ;)
What if I need more help/guidance after shopping?
Some sex shops are just that: shops to buy sex toys, and nothing else. While that’s totally fine (and is enough for a lot of people), it doesn’t necessarily provide the best path for continued learning, education, self-empowerment, & growth for those who are looking for more!
If, after shopping at WinkWink, you feel like you want more personal guidance or help when it comes to your sex life, intimacy, & relationships, we actually offer a variety of classes & events to the public that we’d love to have you join! Our shop owner, Jenn, is also a pretty rad certified sexologist who offers private sex coaching sessions for anyone looking for a customized experience + guidance from a professional.
Is there an age requirement for shopping at sex shops?
Some sex shops may sell items that can only legally be sold to people 18 and over (such as pornography), so certain shops may have age restrictions or require ID. However, there’s no age requirement to come into WinkWink– all ages are welcome. Sex toys are actually pretty widely available at many big-box stores, drugstores, and many online retailers (even Amazon), so they’re easy for anyone to buy! We believe that all people deserve a place where they can ask questions, feel empowered through learning, and get answers from sex educators in a non-judgemental setting.
Benefits of Shopping at a Sex Shop In-Person vs. Online
It’s super easy nowadays to buy sex toys online – so why would you go to a shop in-person, especially if you’re nervous about it? Here are all the reasons why it’s better to shop at a sex shop in person than online, especially at first, when you’re newer to sex shopping!
1. You can see & touch the toys
Shopping at a physical store means that you can actually see & touch (but no, not use) the toys you’re considering buying. This is an important part of shopping for sex toys, because you want to make sure you buy toys that are comfortable to you – which can be hard to do online!
By shopping for toys in-person, you can physically see the real size, feel the material, touch the textures, press the buttons, and hold the shape of a toy. This makes it much easier to decide if a toy is right for you, and also makes it way simpler to compare multiple toys side-by-side if you’re having a hard time choosing. Shopping online for toys is great once you have a better idea of what you like/don’t like when it comes to toys, but is hard for first-time shoppers who aren’t as familiar with the variables that go into picking the right toy!
2. You’ll have professionals there to help you
If you’re a total beginner when it comes to sex toys & accessories, it can be so overwhelming to start shopping, and to try to choose from the huge selection of dildos, vibrators, strokers, you name it. How do you know what toy you want? What do the different kinds of materials mean? What type of stimulation do certain toys offer?!
When you shop at a sex shop in-person, you don’t need to figure it all out on your own: you’ll have experienced professionals right there to help you out! We always welcome questions from customers, whether you’re buying your first toy or your 10th. You’re free to ask us questions about certain types of toys, ask for help in picking the kind of stimulation you want in a toy, ask about a certain toy material or the vibration styles it offers, etc. Don’t worry about not being a pro when it comes to sex toys – that’s why we’re here!
3. You won’t need to worry about discreet shipping/packages arriving
If you’re nervous about buying your first sex toy because you live with your parents, or with people you don’t necessarily want to know about what vibrators or dildos you’re buying, you won’t have to sweat it if you shop in-person. Most sex shops nowadays do a good job of shipping their toys in somewhat discreet packaging to protect the privacy of customers, but shopping in-person takes away any nerves that come with what your package might look like, or what the label will say!
4. You can go home & use your toys right away ;)
Finally, if you buy a toy at a sex shop in-person, you can go home and play around with it right away. No need to wait 3-5 business days or get impatient with shipping delays – take the box home with you immediately, charge it up, & have fun!
The Main Types of Toys + Items You’ll Find in a Sex Shop
If you’re fairly new to shopping for sex toys, the sheer amount of them can be totally overwhelming at first – how the hell are you supposed to choose when you don’t even know what all the toys are?
Here’s a quick list of the main types of toys + items you’ll typically find in a sex shop – all of which we sell here at WinkWink! Don’t worry if you don’t know what they all mean (wtf is an “air pulse” vibrator vs. a “rabbit vibrator?”) – we’ve linked each toy type to a page on our website for you to read more about, and you can also ask us all the Q’s when you come into the shop. It can be helpful to start getting familiar with the different types of toys so you have some idea of what you’re looking for when you start shopping, or at least so you know what the different types mean!
- Stainless steel
- One-time or reusable
- Arousal gel
- Delay spray
- Plan B/emergency contraception
- Dental dams/barriers
- Latex panties
The Dos & Don’ts of Visiting a Sex Shop + General Sex Shop Etiquette
Now that you’re getting a better feel for what sex shops are like, and what to expect, we want to dive into all the dos & don’ts of visiting a sex shop for the first time, as well as some general sex shop etiquette to be aware of!
Pick a reliable store
If you visit a sex shop that makes you feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, and/or unsafe, it’s time to find another sex shop. It’s important to find a sex shop that not only sells what you’re looking for, but one that will make you feel empowered, and one that has a good reputation among other customers. You can do a little research beforehand by scrolling through a sex shop’s Instagram or website, and get a feel for what it might be like to visit it in-person!
Bring a trusted friend
Too nervous to go alone? You’re more than welcome to bring a friend along – just make sure they’re a friend you trust and feel super comfortable & safe with! Don’t bring a friend that you feel may judge you for what you buy; bring somebody who’s ready to explore, shop, and learn alongside you.
Visit during less busy hours
If you’re scared of being seen in a sex shop, or simply visiting when there are a lot of other customers there, try to visit during less busy hours. We typically see more customers on the weekends, when more people are off of work, so you could try visiting during the day on a weekday, or early on a weekday evening, when the shop may be more likely to be a bit quieter!
Go in with a budget
We’ll be honest for a second – sex toys can get expensive, fast. Yes, there are plenty of cheaper sex toys sold at retailers like Amazon and Walmart, but it’s important to look at other variables when shopping, and to try and figure out why a toy might be cheap. Many toys are more expensive due to variables such as the quality, body-safe + long-lasting materials, and extra features like waterproof materials or more than 1 vibration style. Be prepared to invest in a good toy by coming in with an estimated budget of what you want to spend, and keep in mind that you may only buy one toy at a time if you really want to invest in high-quality toys vs. multiple cheaper, lower-quality toys!
Take your time
There’s no need to rush your time in a sex shop – slow down, look around, and consider all your options! You’re welcome to take as much time as you need in order to find the best toy for you, and to ask us questions that’ll help you find it.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options, it’s best to start simple with a toy you’re fairly certain you’ll enjoy! For example, if you know you like external stimulation more than internal, opt for a simple vibrator intended for external use, rather than a fancy vibe with both internal & external stimulation that you’re not quite sure if you’ll like. Once you get a better feel for what you like/don’t like, you can start venturing out a little more + explore some new options!
Or if you’re ready to go all-out and try new things right off the bat, you can absolutely go for it. You do you (literally!) ;)
And lastly, have fun with it! Shopping for sex toys & items can be such a fun, positive experience once you get over any nerves you might have surrounding it. There are endless options for you to explore, try new things, and bring excitement into your sex life – so take advantage and make it an empowering experience for yourself & wherever you’re at on your sexual journey!
Feel the need to be an expert
When you walk into a sex shop, you absolutely do not need to know what to look for or what the hell to do. Everyone is welcome, no matter where you’re at in your life, what you know about sex toys, where you’re at on your journey with your sexuality, etc. At WinkWink, we invite + welcome everyone, whether you’re a total beginner, a full-on expert, or somewhere in between!
Be afraid to ask questions
There’s absolutely zero shame in asking questions, whether you need help picking a toy, finding a good book, learning about the different types of strap-on harnesses, or choosing the right lube. We promise we’ve heard it all and will NEVER judge you for anything you ask!
Shy away from looking around at everything
The great thing about sex shops is that there are so many options, so take advantage! If you come into the shop knowing what you want, fantastic – but also, don’t be afraid to look around and consider other options! You never know what you like (or dislike) until you try it.
Be ashamed of what you’re looking for
Again, here at WinkWink we welcome people of all ages, sizes, interests, sexualities, genders, you name it – and we believe there shouldn’t be any shame surrounding what certain people are into/not into sexually! We’ve got options for everybody, no matter your kinks, fantasies, or desires, and we want you to know that when you walk into WinkWink, shame goes out the door: you’re free to step into your sexuality and explore whatever you’d like.
Judge other shoppers or certain toys/items/etc.
Finally, in order to maintain a safe, welcoming environment, refrain from asking other shoppers questions, and make sure to be mindful + respectful of their shopping experience. They may be just as nervous as you, so it’s important that everybody is able to have a private, safe experience looking around the store! This also means that we don’t want any toy/kink shaming present, either through judging what another shopper is buying or shaming certain toys/items we sell.
Whew, that was a lot of info – but we hope that by now, you’re feeling more confident and ready to tackle your first sex shop visit free from nerves, anxiety, or shame! If you ever feel unsure about what you’re doing, or you’re really nervous still when you walk into WinkWink, don’t be afraid to come up to us and let us know you’re a bit anxious or uncomfortable – we’re here to support and encourage you through your whole shopping experience.
If you want to learn more about different sex toys that we sell, and get more of our bets sexy tips, be sure to check out our recent blog posts below – and we can’t wait to see you in-store!