Bottles of wine and boxes of chocolates for your boo are par for the Valentine’s Day course, so why not be creative this year? After Christmas, Valentine’s Day is the busiest time of the year for adult boutiques, and for good reason — sex toys are fun! They’re an easy way to shake things up in bed, and if nothing else, they’re good for a laugh.
Starting a conversation on sex toys and exploring sex shops can be a great way to discuss how you and your partner connect physically and what makes him or her feel good. By the same token, going into sex shops and finding things you’re interested in is a good way to explore your own sexuality.
If you do opt for some sex toy exploration today, one of the great things about Vancouver is that you don’t need to head to a sketchy store on Granville. There are lots of fun, clean, boutique-style shops to choose from where you can find quality products in a classy environment.
The Art of Loving
The Art of Loving is a great start for people who have never been to an adult store before and may be a bit nervous about the experience. The front of the store houses a large bookshelf and couch, along with fliers advertising upcoming sex seminars and workshops. Store co-owner John Ince said The Art of Loving attempts to emphasize education when it comes to sex; the store’s philosophy, he said, is that “the biggest and most powerful sex organ in the body is the brain.”
The store is quiet and the walls are covered with art, creating a very unintimidating and gallery-like atmosphere. The sales staff greet customers as they come in, but manage not to be pushy. There is a great selection of products, from simple vibrators to high-end brands such as Lelo and We Vibe, but the shop is large enough to avoid seeming cluttered or overwhelming. There is also a clearly marked section for guys, though it’s not as extensive. It’s easy to wander around, pick things up and play with them, or even joke around if you’ve brought someone with you. If you have questions, staff members are always ready to consult with you one-on-one. 1819 W. 5th Ave
Due to its location, Honey Gifts is definitely busier than The Art of Loving. Honey Gifts also has a more upbeat boutique atmosphere. The shop is especially busy during the Valentine’s Day rush, and since it’s a small space, things can get a little cramped. But despite its small size, Honey Gifts carries a surprisingly large amount of products; you can find everything from novelty games to lingerie, toys and massage oils.
The prices at Honey Gifts are the most reasonable of the three shops, but given the crowded quarters, it’s best to visit this shop when you know what you want and aren’t too nervous about going into adult stores. You’ll have to squeeze past other customers, and you may find it more difficult to take your time and look at all the different products. 3448 Cambie St.
This store is the farthest from UBC, located all the way out on Commerical Drive. That said, the trek might be worth it: Womyns’ Ware has been voted “Best Sex Toy Store” by the readers of the Georgia Straight 16 years in a row. The owners of Womyns’ Ware believe sexuality is closely tied to overall happiness and health, and they’ve tried to create a space to celebrate and empower women and women’s sexuality.
Out of the three stores in this article, Womyns’ Ware has the least variety and the highest prices. The focus is squarely on high-end plugs, vibes and dildos, without much in the way of books or novelty items. However, one thing this store has that is missing in the other two is a large BDSM section, with paddles, cuffs, floggers and rope. Because Womyns’ Ware focuses on quality products, the BDSM section comes across as sturdy and accessible rather than scary or trashy.
The store itself is quite large, with products spaced well and nicely displayed; it doesn’t get crowded the way the others do on busy days. Adding to the store’s relaxed atmosphere are the salespeople, who are very friendly and happy to answer any questions. 896 Commercial Dr.