On the Importance of Queer, Women Centered, & Feminist Sex Toy Shops (Map)

When I was traveling around to toy stores and bookstores across North America for the release of Say Please, I started keeping a list of the best of the best.

And eventually, I made a map of as many as I could find.

This is a totally US-centric map! Mostly because that’s where I live & work. I’d love to add more—what shops did I miss? Which should I add? Tell me in the comments + I’ll include it!

Link to the Google map of queer, women-centered, & feminist sex toy shops (just in case it doesn’t load up there)

I came out in Seattle in 1999, and I was lucky enough to be in close proximity to the first Babeland brick and morter store, where I started attending their workshops and smut readings, and I would go in with my scrimped ten bucks and get the best vibrator I could find. It took a long time for me to fully invest in quality silicone, or a real leather harness, but eventually, Babeland (which also has two stores in Manhattan & Brooklyn), and other stores, like Feelmore 510 in Oakland, became places that I frequented and invaluable resources.

The staff at women-centric, queer-friendly sex toy stores are often not just paid sales staff, but educators. The folks who work there know about safer sex practices, what lubes are good if you’re prone to yeast infections, and what kind of toys go with what kinds of lube or condoms. They can recommend different toys based on your body and your needs. I often find that they have a lot of knowledge about people of size, differing ability, body support, and other kinds of access needs. They often have tried out the newest toys and are up on all the latest goodies, so they can recommend all kinds of stuff.

These kinds of stores are well-lit, honest, out in the open, and sex-positive. There’s no flickering florescent blubs and weird backlit rooms for previewing porn videos (I don’t know about you, but that kind of thing was the sex toy store of my youth—and the only kind of sex toy store I knew about, until I found Babeland).

These kinds of stores often have all sorts of knowledge about women’s pleasure, about owning your own desires, about sustaining longer orgasms, about whatever kind of little pickle (ha ha) you might be dealing with in your own sex life. If you bring them your sex puzzles, they will help, is what I’m saying.

Good Vibrations has a Customer Service 800 number—(800) 289-8423 M-F 8am-5pm PST—which has made it into some famous erotica stories (see: this Herotica volume 3 collection from 1994 that I may or may not have read over and over and over and over. MAY OR MAY NOT), and which is staffed by sex educators who will eagerly help you figure out what toy to buy or how to get what it is you’re looking for.

This stuff goes way beyond “retail store” and far into the purpose of “community center” and “resource center.”

Plus, there are often classes and workshops, or erotica readings, at stores like these. If one of them is in your area, I highly suggest you get on their mailing list and keep up with their goings on.

I’m hoping that creating a map like this will be an easy resource for folks who are looking for the great sex-positive sex toy stores near them, and that also it will inspire us to keep patronizing these stores. They are so important + valuable to the sex worlds, and I really want to see them thrive.

If you’re not anywhere near one of these, you could check out some of these amazing shops online, too: Good Vibrations which has many different shops around the San Francisco Bay Area, JT’s Stockroom in LA, Early 2 Bed in Chicago, She Bop the Shop in Portland, Oregon, or Babeland.

Here’s the link to the Google map of queer, women-centered, & feminist sex toy shops that I have so far. Did I miss any? Please leave info on them in the comments & I’ll check them out! Make sure that they are:

  • Welcoming to all genders
  • Discerning about what kind of toys that they carry (e.g., they don’t carry toys made of plastics that are bad for the body)
  • Inclusive of and centered around women’s sexuality
  • Bonus points if they are queer- or woman-owned!

Review: Nipple Suction Toys (via the Stockroom)

JT’s Stockroom has been an affiliate with Sugarbutch for many years, and this month, they are the feature! I love how they are carrying more and more body-safe toys (and fewer things with phthalates), but even more than that, I love their selection of kinky things. Slings, extensive amounts of leather, anal hooks, pokey things, hitty things, things to put in holes, latex, medical play—they have it all.

So what was I going to request from them to feature this month? Hmmmm …

I never used to like breast play all that much. On me, well, I’ve got that whole gender-dysphoric issue, and on another person … I just kinda didn’t get it. Okay sure, breasts are pretty, but I was never a “boob guy.” (Always been much more into the legs.)

I’m not sure when it changed exactly, or why. (I have some suspicions about the why. Ask me on a Q&A chat sometime.) But it happened sometime around reading that short story called “Details” that Maria See wrote (which is no longer accessible on her now-defunct tumblr, boo. I’ll see if I can track it down for you to read, if you want to), and connecting nipple sucking to a form of nourishment, and to some extent, age play. There’s been a place for playing with suckling as both a … giver and receiver (hah, if you can use those words here—they seem awkward to me). I have plenty more to say about what it’s like to be in either role, but let me just say, for now, that it’s complicated to describe, complicated for gender reasons, difficult to feel comfortable, very private act, something I’m slightly embarrassed to admit I’m playing with, … and often feels really good.

I’ve done epic nipple clamp review roundups in the past, but with my new ideas about my own stimulation, I thought I’d try something new: nipple suction. And hey look! There’s a wide range of suction-based nipple stimulation toys available out there, so I figured I should start somewhere!

I’ll tell you about three of ’em now.

The Oxball Nipple Suckers—automatic bust.

First? The Oxball nipple suckers were a bust, so basically we’re down to two. (And two does not a good comparison make! But I’ll come back to that.) When I opened the package, the very clear smell of plastic off-gassing was released, and they were all greasy—so you know what that means: phthalates. I immediately emailed Monica, the Stockroom’s affiliate manager, and she apologized and proceeded to basically stop carrying those particular ones. Oxball is generally a brand that uses good plastics, so they hadn’t caught this yet. So, no picture, no review—they got tossed. (Not sure what else to do with bad plastics? Is there a way to green-ly recycle them?)

The KinkLab T Cups Nipple Suction Set

nipple1Next up, and the big winners: the KinkLab T Cups Nipple Suction Set. These are the reason I got turned on to nipple suction toys to begin with, actually, because Lorax, at their previous job as a dildo slinger (aka working as a sex educator in a toy store), pointed them out to me one time I was visiting. Oh yeah, I was intrigued!

But also, ugh I was put off by the pink flower design. I mean really. Why you gotta go ruin something like that? Look, there’s nothing wrong with pink flowers, but I generally don’t need them on my accessories, my sex toys, and definitely not on my nipples. Even if they went along with someone’s gender identity a bit better than they do with mine, I’m not sure who they look very good! They’re so big and bulky, and long and thing.

Often kink toys are not about how things look, however—they are about how things feel. And these absolutely deliver. They are strong, sturdy, and durable. Once you’ve got a good suction, they stay in place.

T Cups nipple suction set verdict: Recommended for function and sensation, though not highly recommended because of how they look pretty silly.

The (classic) Snake Bite Kit

nipple3So technically, Stockroom did not send me the Snake Bite Kit to use as a comparison. I picked one up specifically to use in this roundup, because they tend to be cheap and accessible and because I was curious The Stockroom carries them (because they carry pretty much all things kinky. Pretty much).

Ive never owned a snake bite kit until now. They seem to be one of those common DIY “pervertables,” things from around the house (if, uh, you happen to have a snake bite kit around the house) that get made into stimulation during sexytimes. When I started talking about this nipple toy roundup I was working on, saying I was seeking out a snake bite kit, my buddy Amy actually found one and texted me a photo of it, asking if I’d already got one. Though I happened to be at REI that very minute (they don’t carry them!), I hadn’t, and she picked it up for me—but not before she was reminded at least three times by the different sales people and the clerk that they are NOT TO BE USED ON SNAKE BITES. I didn’t realize they’d been determined to be bad for that, so I’m glad that was clear. Because, you know, you never know when a snake will be in your bedroom? And what if I had used that snake bite kit for what I thought it was meant for!

So no—it is purely for pleasureable use now.

(I was just reminded of this yesterday when Lucy Bell’s comic on Oh Joy Sex Toy alllll about the snake bite kit came out. Which of course is rad, but you probably already knew that.)

Snake bite kit verdict: Not as suction-y as the flowers, above. Not as sturdy, doesn’t keep its suction if you move. Harder to get a good seal. More challenging, but still worth trying out. My kit came with two sizes, so you can actually do two on the nipples and one on the clit or labia (if that’s your thing)! Still not so aesthetically amazing, but it’s better than the flowers.

And one more bonus: Magnetic Nipple Balls

nipple2When the Stockroom sent me these toys to compare and try, they sent me one more bonus: the Magnetic Nipple Balls, which are, well, just what they sound like—tiny magnetic balls. I queried, “What about these things?” and the Stockroom awesome toy manager Monica wrote back, “The magnetic balls are super neat but really are SUPER strong, just for a heads up!” And whoa, she is right.

They are really strong.

I would not let them near my nipples. Rife told me how a sex toy store employee once told him to test out all the nipple clamps on the skin between his thumb and first finger, because that is approximately how sensitive one’s nipples are (depends on the person, of course, but on average I buy it—it’s a sensitive spot!). When I put these balls on that spot on my body, everything yells, “GET IT OFF!” and I don’t really have any desire to put them on my nipples. We played a little with using one of the magnetic balls and one random other little magnet from the fridge (we have some that look like pushpins that work pretty well, and aren’t so weird-looking), and that was … better.

Magnetic Nipple Balls conclusion: very sexy looking. VERY strong pinching. Kinda dangerous—doesn’t really stay in place. Does not deliver the suction I was looking for (duh).

But wait, there’s more! …

Here’s two more toys I didn’t review, but am curious about:

nipple4 nipple5

Mini nipple suckers & the 10-piece cupping set.

I’m interested in cupping in part because I’m curious about this pair of pump cylinders (pump sold separately), and it looks like the cupping kit is the pump and 10 cups instead of no pump and two cups, so may as well grab a few extras. (It was one of the Daily Specials this past month and I really should’ve bought it. And the anal hook. And the cock leash. This is why I have a Stockroom wishlist!)

I’m also interested in cupping because I’ve been having it done lately as part of some health care/wellness, for my damaged shoulder, and it’s been working incredibly well! More on that another time.

Whew, alright—this concludes your Stockroom nipple suction roundup. Hope you found something curious!

…. oh damn, wait, one more thing.

This might be pertinent to your interests: The Stockroom carries they have replacement nipple clamp tips—you know, for those little tweezer-like nipple clamps that always loose their little rubber tip, and then the tweezer part underneath is a mean tooth.

The magnetic nipple balls, t-cups nipple suction set, and oxball nip screw nipple suckers were sent to me from Stockroom to review. (The snakebite kit actually came from an outdoor store via my butt buddy.) Thanks! Post image photo from The Princess Bride.

Morning Bondage (Review: Scalloped Cuffs & Snap Hooks)

I woke early the other day, with that familiar urge to hold and protect and control Kristen, maybe it’s the subconscious absorption of her smooth naked skin all night long, how sweet her body feels in my arms as we both turn and slumber, maybe it’s when we go in and out of whatever tough times we’re having, either about each other or just our individual general struggles against the world, maybe it’s just how I am wired, to protect and shelter, and sometimes control and dominate.

I began touching her before she was fully awake. She and I have talked about this, I have permission to take her whenever I want to, particularly in the mornings, she likes to be awakened that way. I kissed her neck and collarbone and breasts and shoulders, let my hand trail slow and soft over her skin as she murmured little sighs and stirred gently, eyelids heavy, not really awake and not really trying to be.

Slipping her panties down and off of her, I stayed low on the bed and kept my hands on her hips, using my elbows to spread her thighs open, the soft and sweet indirect morning light just enough to see the pink and pretty lips of her pussy. Delicate and velvety and I wanted to taste her, lowered my mouth down to run my tongue along the length of her slit. Just the tip of my tongue, breath hot on her cunt, keeping my mouth hovering above her and my hands gripping her hips. She squirmed. Pressed her thighs into the bed, pressed up as high as she could against my mouth, tensed everywhere.

I let my tongue flatten and drag softly, softly along her pussy again, from her hole up to her clit, and rest there, using the soft inner part of my lips to suck and tease.

Kristen comes easily this way. Tongue on her clit, one finger just one knuckle in and circling around the opening of her cunt, she quickly thrashes her arms down into the mattress and gasps, twisting her head and jerking her legs straight. I soften the pressure and go back in, tongue wide and lapping again, with quicker, smaller movements over her clit, until she comes again, crying out a little louder this time, and I shift up the bed to kiss her, hold her close for a moment.

I had set it up a week ago: taken the new fleece-lined wrist cuffs and secured them to another set of cuffs I’d placed around the bars of my headboard with some snap hooks. Kristen likes to struggle, likes to thrash around, and a little bit of restraint goes a long way: it gives her the opportunity to push or pull against something, lets a few more of her muscles tense and tighten and release a little deeper (and plus she doesn’t hit me in the face quite as easily). I took the fleece-lined cuffs down and buckled them around her wrists, then the easy click of the snap hooks secured her wrists to the bedframe.

She immediately calmed and quieted, not out of boredom but out of relaxation, watching me as I moved back down between her legs and set again to tonguing her pussy, making her come. This time I slid two fingers into her pussy, sucking her lips into my mouth and spreading them open with my hands to get to her clit. She strained against the cuffs and I felt the muscles in her stomach and ass tighten every time she pulled against the headboard.

I lost track of how many times she came in my mouth. Sometimes I let up, gave her a break, paused between orgasms, other times I just kept going and she did, too. I brought my elbows up to press her legs apart, kept my fingers inside her or spreading her lips open. I held her hips, pinched her nipples, gripped her ankles, held her legs up by the back of her thighs. I reached for the conveniently located pump bottle of Maximus lube on the nightstand and got a dollop on my third finger so I could slide it into her ass, just a little, filling her up, sucking her clit as swollen as I could and letting up just as she was about to come, changing my stroke down to a tickle until she contracted hard around my fingers and came again, again, again.

I lost track of time. I stopped caring if she was being too loud for this time in the morning, whether my neighbors would be home. I wanted to get my camera out, take up-close macro shots of the curves and lines and folds of her pussy, oh so pink and swollen and beautiful.

Not that she would have minded me doing that, but I didn’t. Next time, perhaps. That image of her arms and legs and pussy spread is still so clear in my mind, still a lovely mental image I’ve replayed more than a few times since then.

The cuffs were easy to unhook, left no marks, no bruises, no dye, were very comfortable. I pulled her close and noticed it was well past time to get up. “Morning, beautiful girl,” I murmured into her hair.

The Fleece Lined Buckling Cuffs w/Scalloped Edge and KinkLab Nickel-Plated Snap Hooks (4-Pack) were sent to me to review from JT’s Stockroom. Check them out for all kinds of other fantastic bondage toys.