Across from McDonald’s Play Place, A Toy Store

IMG_9869Are you down about Valentine’s Day? By which I mean, are you sad you’re alone or annoyed because you’re only “together,” or just too short on funds for something elaborate? Or are you happy, feeling great and want to enhance those butterflies in your stomach with a few odds and ends? Well, you’re in luck… have I got the place for you. It’s called the Adult Shop.

Adult Shop is an Oregon staple of over 30 years, with 13 fun loving stores in the state and a bustling online presence as well. And here’s the thing about the Adult Shop; it’s probably got what you need.

For Cynthia Ferguson, manager of the Adult Shop location on 9th Street in Corvallis, it was a way out of fast food employment.

“I wanted to work customer service, and I started working here and I realized that you could actually help people, and put a smile on their face and it’s fun,” says Ferguson about working at the shop.
For that lonely heart, it’s got stimulation to keep you sharp. Dry patches are a fact of life, but Cynthia’s got your back.

The Adult Shop has porn flicks, vibrators, candies and oils, a candle that’s much sexier than it sounds, rubber body parts, not to mention the best selling Fleshlight. It gets its name from looking like a flashlight and feeling like flesh. Why any marketing scheme would bank on people’s desire to *&^% a flashlight is beyond me, but take Cynthia’s word for it; they’re popular.

And it’s all very adult which is nice. It’s nice to be treated like a customer at Trader Joe’s while perusing things like rings and rods of all sorts. At this point, there’s nothing surprising about porn going mainstream. But it’s still a surprisingly steep barrier that a portion of society has not yet scaled.

According to the latest report from IBISWorld, the US Market for adult stores was $610 million last year, up 12.5% on 2012. That’s a lot, but based on how much a person can drop in the place (pretty much no less than $20-$50 if you want to have any fun), it still suggests plenty of people have never been to one.

Years of anonymous Internet sales and the mainstreaming of “massagers” on TV and in magazines, and now in big box stores, have freed the middle class from their delicate sensibilities. All of this is good for the sex industry, and really, America.

Adult stores across the country are bucking the trend of being killed by the Internet. Yes, the Internet still dominates the sex toy market, but people are starting to get comfortable in Adult Stores. Proof of that is the diverse clientele, which includes people of all (legal) ages and lifestyles. If you’re fueled by presumption, it might really surprise you.

This makes the market ripe for a chain like Adult Shop, because most of these new buyers aren’t looking to shop at Steve’s Sex Dungeon. Despite Steve’s excellent prices on store model vibrators…
The conventional wisdom about “mom & pop” stores versus giant faceless corporations doesn’t apply as often in the Adult Industry. There may indeed be many individual small porn stores out there, not part of a corporate chain. And many good ones at that. But when it comes to perusing certain things you tend to want that slick fluorescent sterility that only a Target-like corporate entity can provide.

Then again, you get way better personal info protection from the Adult Shop. They bill your credit card discreetly too, so come all ye married folk, college kids using dad’s credit card and corrupt public officials using State owned cards for “business expenses.”

But a positive example of the corporate treatment is the open bag policy; you buy a vibrator, they open the bag and turn it on so you know it’s working, because once you walk out that door, that jittery son of a gun is yours for keeps. This is the type of behavior that instills confidence. Not to mention lets a customer know there’s no chance they’re unknowingly buying a used vibrator, surely the biggest secret fear of all vibrator consumers.

Business is definitely way up around Valentine’s Day, says Ferguson, “Lots of lingerie, lots of games, lots of couples oriented stuff like that. We offer a lot more sales around Valentine’s.”
The staff is helpful and professional; Cynthia happily dishes on the experience.

I asked her about friction with the local community.

“We get along good with our Chinese food neighbors next door,” she says. Don’t worry, there is a Chinese restaurant next door.

“We do street cleanups in Salem, we do adopt-a-highway.” Alright Cynthia, let’s get back to the naughty bits.

“We were the number one earners at Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure down in Eugene.” Wait, what?
That’s the face of corporate sex shopping. They race for breast cancer. We all win.

I asked Cynthia about the product line.

“There’ve been a lot of new products and new companies that have come out that have been game changers,” says Ferguson.

Prick up your ears, those of you not looking to spend an insane amount on Valentine’s romance.

“The WeVibe company has probably been the biggest one, “ she says gesturing to a handsome display by the window. “It’s like the first and only couple’s toy, where both partners can get stimulation.” What better gift could there be for that loved one on the day for lovers than mutual stimulation. Other than his and hers copies of The Pelican Brief, this is the best you’re going to get.
Like I said, the place has what you need. It has what we all need.

For those of you in a relationship who aren’t worried financially about Valentine’s Day, you just hate the whole dance and need to blow off some steam:

“Movies have come a long way. They started putting in special effects,” she says helpfully.

Boy did they ever, Cynthia.

By Ygal Kaufman