Free Delivery for orders over R1500

From Sex shops to Supermarkets.

from sex shop to supermarket

From Sex Shops to Supermarkets

Not long ago I wrote a column on how irritated I am about how people perceive shops like Lola Montez in Hyde Park and a colleague’s shop in Pretoria called Pure Plesier.

I know I’m always bleating on about how we should normalize talking about sex and adult toys because I have a vested interest but I never realized just how far behind we actually are.

I’ve just read ‘From Sex Shops to Supermarkets, how adult toys became a billion pound business’ by Dale Bradford. The wonderful thing about the book is that I have been there for all of it. Yes, sometimes I even feel as if I was there for the very first versions in the 1860s.

He writes mainly about the industry in the UK and the challenges that the likes of Anne Summers, SH and Coco de Mer faced during their inception. In the early days of Lola Montez about 21 years ago, I did a lot of research in Australia, where Adult World had tried to rebrand as female friendly and the UK, where the already mentioned Anne Summers was the only game in town.

None of the above allowed clients to touch and feel toys before the purchase. It was one of the services we would offer as a matter of course. I still believe that women in particular are tactile buyers. We want to know how the product feels, smells and vibrates. I have 21 years’ worth of samples in storage. Every now and then I pack them out to see how far we’ve come.

When we started our toy choices were Jelly, many still contained Philathetates, which is believed to cause certain cancers, hard plastics and occasionally rubber. Always penis shaped, they made enough noise for your neighbours to know what you were up to. Sometimes they even had a cigarette after, in the days when everyone still smoked cigarettes, not sugar candy vapes.

Sex shops had very stringent licensing laws. A license for a shop in Westminster, London could cost close to 30 000 pounds per annum! Not only was that a barrier to entry but storefronts were not allowed to be open. They had to be blocked out, with entrances that didn’t allow anyone to see in. A legacy that still continues today.

I recently went into one of those stores in a small town in the North West.

It was everything I hated about this industry when I got into it. Pills and porn with sealed toys. There was just nothing sensual about it. I was amused to still see DVDs on the shelf! Have they not heard that porn is now available freely on your phone?

If you are ever wanting to explore, I promise you, you have better options. The industry in this country, although lagging, is not all sleazy. Maybe do a search, follow some social media and see what you prefer.

The book also refers to the exceptional growth of online orders.

This too is not without its challenges. We are not allowed to boost posts or advertise on social media and let’s be honest where else do we get our information these days – Even this paper has social media pages to draw more readership.

We are allowed to advertise on Google with key words, but have you seen the price of ‘sex toys’ or ‘vibrators’.

Many distributors and stores have not survived the COVID pandemic nor the economic challenges world wide and it would seem that we’re in for a rough ride. Everyone is reporting way below par February Sales. February is traditionally a big month for us because of Valentine’s Day.

It’s not all terrible.

There have been wonderful series that have promoted healthy sexuality.

If only the producers know how much we appreciate the exposure. I just wish it didn’t always land up in the lunatic fringe because let’s face it, most of us are vanilla.

We enjoy sex and intimate play, but we don’t really want to be strung up by our nipples. Some do, but most don’t.

Love Honey, one of the biggest online stores in the world, based in the UK reports the following statistics based on their sales –

In the UK for 2022,

  • 786 hot tubs cold be filled with the lube that was sold, with
  • 1 422 744 handcuffs and restraints being sold and
  • the length of all sex toys sold equals the height of Big Ben stacked on top of itself 6 times!

In the US only

  • 201 hot tubs could be filled with all the lube sold.
  • 51 502 handcuffs and restraints and the height of all the sex toys sold?
  • The height of the Empire State Building stacked on top of itself 100 times!

In Australia

  • 298 hot tibs of lube,
  • 604 742 handcuffs and restraints and the
  • length of all sex toys sold equals the Q1 Building stacked on itself 1284 times.

I remember asking a company for sole distribution rights for a toy I particularly liked and got laughed at. I was told that the total number of toys sold into the South African market in a whole year was equivalent to what they sold into one shop in Berlin in a month.

During my research about online sales in the adult industry I found that many younger readers purchase from Amazon because they feel that delivery is anonymous – it could be a book after all.

Ever single online seller has discreet packaging and uses everyday couriers for delivery. I’d love to have a delivery vehicle with a big dildo on the roof, but alas we’re not there yet.

Increasingly challenging is maintaining an edge.

What can we do differently to stand out from the rest? I need a clever PR company to share ideas.

You’ll find that we all stock very similar product. Reason being that many distributors have gone out of business and the State has got involved.

Most toys are now rechargeable. This requires that the charger for every adult toy now has to be tested by an approved Lab and approved by the SABS. The costs involved are breathtaking. The result is that we are getting less and less of the ranges available internationally.

We still go to all the big trade shows but now we have to be very careful about our choices. Trying to spot a trend will always be challenging.

So why do we do it?

Why face judgement every day? Why continue to preach and educate and raise awareness in the face of so much adversity?

The answer is simple. We make a difference to self-care and relationships. The answer may actually be simpler than that – I bloody love it!

Please support us by following and interacting with us on all our social media platforms.







Stand a chance to win!

Sign up to our newsletter and get 20% OFF your first purchase and stand a chance to win a Lola Montez Voucher worth R1000!

Plus be the first to learn about new products, specials, tips and techniques.

By submitting, you agree to receive emails from Dame and accept our terms of service and privacy policy.

Sign up for our newsletter

Sign up and be the first to learn about new products, specials, tips and techniques.

From Sex shops to Supermarkets.

All reviews

0 customer reviews
5 star0%
4 star0%
3 star0%
2 star0%
1 star0%

Write Your Review

From Sex shops to Supermarkets.