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!

Early to Bed in Chicago

I’m adding a new affiliate to Sugarbutch this week: the Chicago-based sex toy store Early to Bed. If you live in Chicago you probably know about it already (if you don’t, now you do! Go visit), but even if you don’t live there you may have seen them online. They have a wonderful, simple site with fantastic products that anybody can order.

From the owner, Searah: “Many years ago while shopping for sex toys at a store filled with tacky blow-up dolls, raunchy gag gifts and walls of over-priced vibrators, I asked the sales person a simple question about lube. The question was met with a blank stare while she grabbed what was closest and said “um… ah…I think this one is good…?”. It wasn’t good at all and it was at that moment that my mission became clear: Chicago needed a sex shop with smart staff people, fair prices and a warm, women-friendly environment. I wanted a place where anyone could ask a reasonable question about sexuality and not be met with a snicker or black stare. … I opened Chicago’s first women-owned, women-oriented, boy-friendly, queer and trans-positive sex shop. We have worked hard to support the local women’s and queer communities and will continue to do so in the future. With our ongoing workshops and outreach events, we are striving to provide a place where people can come to learn more about sex and themselves. It is my hope that Early to Bed will be known as not only a retail store, but as a safe space to explore sexuality and foster a sex-positive community.”

In addition, they recently launched Early to Rise, their male-focused site:

Ever since our women-oriented sister store, Early to Bed, opened in 2001, one of the most frequent jokes made by customers has been “hey, you should have another store for men called Early to Rise next door.” For years we just chuckled at the notion, as there were plenty of sex shops designed for men and we were women who knew much more about women’s toys, bodies and sexual needs. Besides, with the majority of the shoppers in our store being female, it just didn’t seem necessary.

Fast forward eight years and our male clientele has grown and grown. Apparently, there are just as many men interested in a sex-positive shopping experience as there are women. With Early to Rise we are hoping to create a sex-positive site with good sex information, honest reviews of male-oriented sex toys and advice for men, written by men. Additionally, we have selected some of the finest and best-loved adult toys designed for men to sell in our online shop.

I love what Early to Bed is doing, and I’m excited to support them through my work. Check ’em out.