As a veteran of adult novelty retail, I can attest to the importance of an enthusiastic, knowledgeable sales associate. Before I hopped planes on a regular basis for Pipedream, my home was behind the counter of an adult store chain that prioritized sex education. I know from experience that a lackluster employee can easily dissuade a buyer from making the right purchase. Even worse, a customer might be convinced to pay for something that’s completely useless for their needs, painful to use, or leaves them with a terrible impression of the otherwise amazing world of sexual enhancement products. Before you drop a single dime on one of retail’s infamously unreturnable items, assess your needs, get educated, and impress your local pleasure retailer with your new sex toy geek status.
Figure Out Your Body’s Needs
Sex toys can seem relatively simple… until you step into an adult boutique. There are options for your insides and outsides (and sometimes both!), and toy design has moved far beyond skinny, plastic vibrators and The Rabbit. When I used to coach customers on how to choose a toy, the first question I asked involved thinking about what body parts are the most desirable to stimulate. Do you prefer stimulation internally or externally? Do you need a little of both to enjoy using a toy? Is anal play something you’d like to add? Once you figure out what parts you’d like the toy to please, the decision-making process becomes a lot easier.
Go Big or Go Home (Happily With a Small Toy)
I think we all know by now that bigger isn’t always better when it comes to sex. When I’m on the road working with retail sales associates, one of the most common complaints is that many toys, despite otherwise good design, are just too big. Think about what you like when you’re with a partner or alone, or what you’d like to try now that you have a plethora of toys from which to choose. If hearty girth and length feel good from a human, you might enjoy the same from something silicone. If a couple fingers or stimulation around the entrance are turn-ons, go for something small and powerful with multi-speed options or an insertable vibe no larger than your hand. It’s usually more comfortable to start small and move up in size if needed, but if you know you like it big, then go for it!
Need for Speed (or Not)
Vibrators have come a long way since “slow,” “medium,” and “fast.” The amount of rumbling, tumbling, and twirling options are enough to confuse even the savviest of toy connoisseurs. When it comes to power, there are different kinds of vibrations in addition to intensity levels. Some toys produce a “buzzy” vibration, which is a fluttery, surface-level sensation, often compared to what it might feel like to trap a large swarm of angry bees in a tin can. “Rumbly” vibes are the toy equivalent of a deep tissue massage. They resonate from the core of the vibrator deep into the body, and feel like sitting on the amp of a bass guitar. The best way to test whatever kind of vibe you’re seeking is to visit an adult shop that allows customers to view toys outside of the box, fully charged or with batteries. In the end, you might decide a good ol’ dildo without any power at all is the right choice.
Do Your Research
Before you begin browsing adults-only shops, you have lots of options to see how your toy of choice has fared for other users. There is a seemingly endless amount of pleasure product enthusiasts who regularly test popular toys for their personal blogs. Companies often distribute products to these veteran toy users for the purpose of a fair, unbiased review. Not every toy can be found on review websites, but all of the latest advances in sexual technology usually garner an opinion from the blogging community. When searching for a good blog to follow, look for a writer that takes different body types and activity preferences into account. A good adult toy reviewer will understand that a toy they thought was horrible might be perfect for someone else. You’ll have the best chances of understanding what a sex toy can do for you when a blogger pays attention to the material, functions, and options for use.
Hit The Shops!
Although it can be tempting to hide behind a computer screen, choosing a toy from a brick-and-mortar store is a smarter choice if you’re not 100% confident in your purchase. A reliable retailer will employ sales associates with knowledge of how to use adult products, what kind of experience most products provide, and the kind of questions to ask customers to ensure they’re sent home satisfied. Retailer websites and Yelp reviews can help you decide which store holds the most qualified employees. If possible (and it absolutely should be possible at stores that promote sex ed.), ask a clerk to let you take the toy out of the box. If it requires batteries, staff can usually get a vibrator up and running so you can see all the details for yourself. If it’s a rechargeable toy, many stores will already have a charged-up version on the counter. Some shops even hold classes and seminars on adult pleasure products and living a healthy, happy sex life. Finding the most up-to-date retailer in your area is the final step in upping your status as a sex toy tech geek (and being a geek of sex is never a bad thing).