Reader Albuquerque Girl asks:

My boyfriend and I used to have a great sex life, but things have really been falling off recently. I’m thinking about trying to surprise him with something like a vibrator to spice things up, but I’ve never bought toys before, and I get the feeling that most adult stores are sleazy perv hideouts. Do you have any shopping advice for someone like me?

Dear A.G.,

I once read somewhere that the first six months to a year of sex with a new partner can have a similar effect on our brains as cocaine — lots of dopamine, lots of serotonin, lots of good feelings. But once that time passes, we lose those wonderful feelings during sex, although other things may take over and provide new good feelings. However, it is often a difficult thing to keep things exciting in the bedroom as time passes between a couple. I think you’re on to a very great idea with the thought of toys.

Because you live in Albuquerque, I can tell you that not all sex shops are sketchy and frightening. While there are definitely some places I wouldn’t recommend you go alone, there are definitely shops in Albuquerque that you may actually find inviting.

Many of the aspects of these shops are good guidelines for finding similar shops in other locales; for instance, that a shop is woman-owned, in a nice neighborhood, or sells products other than sex toys are good indicators that you will be more comfortable shopping there. You may have to do some research if you live in New York or L.A., but luckily, I’ve already done some for you in ABQ.

I’ll go from least conspicuous to most for my recommendations:

Seventh Goddess, 3504 Central NE (Nob Hill)

A lingerie store in front with some “fun things” in the back, Seventh Goddess is woman-owned and -operated. They have an excellent selection of lingerie to start with, so if you want to add a new get-up to your boudoir to go with your new toy, you can definitely start here.  Their sex toys are somewhat limited, but adequate, and they have a good range of safer-sex products as well, including condoms, lube, spermicide, etc. Most of their toys are couple- or woman-based, so it’s a good starting point for a girl looking to spice things up with her boyfriend.

Self Serve, 3904 B Central Ave SE (just east of Nob Hill)

This shop is owned by women and stocks any toy you could possibly imagine, as well as lube, condoms, BDSM gear, LGBTQ-friendly event flyers, books, videos, chocolate, stickers… I mean, they have sex covered. While the shop is a bit difficult to find (it’s right next to Tinta Cantina), it is well worth the effort. The staff can answer any question you have. In fact, they also offer classes, so if you want to surprise your BF by learning how to give a better BJ, you can definitely learn from someone who knows.

Seductions, 2528 Juan Tabo NE

I’m not sure who owns Seductions, but what makes this store a better option than others is its location. In fact, the neighborhood wasn’t exactly thrilled that a sex shop would open in such an area, but count it as a blessing for yourself. The store is enormous, and stocks kinky lingerie, stripper boots, games, toys, videos, books, and tons of other stuff to get your engine revving. It’s far less intimate and cozy than Self Serve or Seventh Goddess (and it has a weird smell), but you’re much less likely to be accosted by a horny dude than at any of the sex shops that also offer on-the-spot voyeurism (e.g. Pussycat, The News Stand, Fantasy World, the Big Eye, etc).  Sadly, they don’t appear to have a Website, but at least you know you can feel safe entering the building, and there’s plenty of parking.

Castle Superstore, 5110 Central SE

I don’t usually endorse enormous chains, and sex shops are no exception. But Castle is enormous, and this can be good. Of course, you may have to dodge certain unsavory characters, because every frat boy in Albuquerque knows about Castle. Still, they don’t have porn booths or strip shows going, so you will probably be more comfortable here than you would be at other crazy joints.

Online Shopping

Of course, if you’re really icked out by the thought of going into a sex shop in the first place, ordering online is the way to go. Self Serve is particularly awesome when it comes to sending stuff, and since they’re local and woman-owned, you can feel good ordering your new plaything from them.

What to Get

It sounds to me that you’re a little reticent to include a toy in your boudoir in the first place, so I’d start with something small. Just adding a new lube or a ribbed condom into your system can throw a spice in the mix. Get a massage oil candle that melts as it burns and give him a good rub down before you do your thing (and make sure he returns the favor!). The new addition doesn’t have to vibrate or be made of leather to add some excitement to your routine.

If you want to make this a BF-centered toy, get a nice vibrating cock ring. The Screaming O is cheap and adds a single-speed vibration (centered on your clitoris, depending on position) to the standard cock ring. It’s also disposable, so you don’t have to be committed to it.

A vibrator can be a good investment for a girl, because you can practice alone or with a partner. But if your toy is specifically for partner sex, you have to remember that many guys are a little weirded out by toys that look like penises. I highly recommend the 3-Speed Power Bullet ($14.95 at Self Serve) because it is small, unobtrusive, waterproof, and can be used for several purposes. My only gripe is that it eats up batteries very quickly and breaks equally fast.

If you want to make a real investment, the We Vibe II is a toy I’d really like to try, and is apparently the most popular toy in the world. It offers hands-free enjoyment for every part of your lady bits, and for his bits, too. If you feel okay ponying up $100, this rechargeable, fun toy can definitely make your time with your partner more enjoyable.

Of course, sexual enjoyment is something you can work on solo. Try your new vibe out alone, and then introduce it to your partner. He will more than likely be thrilled with the addition, especially once he realizes just what it does for you.


2 Responses to “toys.”

  1. 1 505 Shopper
    April 5, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Nice post. Though I’d recommend against Castle. The parking lot is super sketchy, and you might run into drunks wandering in from the Wal-Mart parking lot. Also, the staff in there always seems a little dirty.

  2. 2 Kjcfalcon
    April 6, 2010 at 11:17 am

    I would also suggest if online shopping will be your preference to check out the Smitten Kitten http://www.smittenkittenonline.com/ it’s a Minneapolis based (although they also just opened a store in Denver) amazing feminist sex store where they focus on education as well as safe toys. I didn’t know this before going to the Smitten Kitten but there are actually a lot of harmful chemicals and materials that can be in a lot of mass-marketed sex toys so if you’re not into putting weird things around your sensitive areas be sure to do some research on what makes one vibrator safer than another. The fact that this store is a women’s-owned, feminist shop is pretty sweet, and if you’re not lucky enough to live in the Twin Cities or Denver you can order their products online.

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