Last Saturday, Wildcard identified my doldrums as needing fixing, s we went out to watch Dr. Strange and then gorge on sushi, the latter activity almost meaning a visit to the nearby sex shop, called “Romance“.
Every relationship has its rituals. I have an undying love for salmon, particularly raw or smoked. Wildcard has a tradition of eating his feelings in delicious all you can eat buffet omnoms. Having a favourite fishing hole, and being fond of me, he shared the location and now we make monthly pilgrimages. Faces get stuffed, then we invariably go sex toy shopping.
At first the shopping trips were an accidental extension of geography. The store just happens to be between us and where we always park. Honestly, showing up there started with very little expectation other than having a giggle at the hilari-bad porn DVDs.
This branch is open absurdly late, which was probably the first draw. Plus, in addition to the breast shaped macaroni and strawberry flavoured lube (euch), they have an upstairs BDSM and fetish section. It’s an Adult Novelty style shop, but it is more than dick hats and copies of Pink Eye 2.
Still, why pay the markup?
You might wonder our motive for being there. After all, it is never going to be as cheap as shopping online. No brick and mortar store is going to beat a fresh-from-the-warehouse site like pinkcherry.ca in cost. If I want a bouquet of a half dozen riding crops, I will never argue meatspace is cheaper.
I keep going back to Romance, because they beat even my favourite online retailers in immediate customer engagement. The staff cares about and is knowledgeable about all their stock. And, while online sites offer reviews, at a certain point you can’t beat actually touching the merchandise.
Going Hands On
Does it bounce well in the hand with a fleshy weight? How strong are the stitches in the leather? Can you slap it against your thigh to feel the thud or the sting? How does it stand up to my personal tastes? You can tell right away what will and won’t work for you.
For example, this time I wanted a cock ring for Wildcard. We’ve basically maxed out on vibes and insertables, but I wanted to take my teasing game a little further and make his erections more persistent.
Sure cock rings are a cheap grab. They seldom cost more than $20, unless you are moving into the territory of elaborate gilded ornaments. Still, I could have bought multiples online for the price of the one I got. I paid the store markup because I wanted to actually handle the products properly, and get Wildcard’s immediate feedback. After all it was his penis about to be cinched.
At Romance, anything is available for reasonable in store testing, and I had six or so different sizes and models to play with and figure out which was best. Otherwise, I would either need to borrow a friend’s personal items (assuming I knew someone who did have one), or try my luck with buying before I try. Why gamble and create waste?
Romance doesn’t stock the super high end, gold plated luxury brands, and while they have a few of the lower quality toys, they are carefully screened for skin safe material. The quality and price point runs a range, but nothing will cause a rash. They have recognizable brands, like Tantus, and various versions of the standards in less recognized brands: glass, masturbation sleeves, bullet vibes, etc… Nonetheless they have their share of the cheap quality stuff.
However, what makes me trust in the quality of their offerings are how they handle duds and poor purchases and how they constantly make purchasing a conversation.
For example last shopping trip, I impulse bought a Music Legs branded corset back fishnet tights set. That’s not a band I’d expect much from, but even so, the quality was terrible, neither matching the claimed colours on the package, nor coming laced. Indeed the wretched things gave you your lace as a single length of uncut ribbon- unacceptable for an item fragile enough that the first wearing was likely the last.
Online shopping, you write an irate review, and maybe process a return with shipping at your own expense. The smaller ones have time to address you complaints, but there’s a lot more time and distance involved. Here, you get the immediate feedback and from the staff, checking if it was a one off and pulling the defective product, as well as making a note to discuss the problem with the supplier.
And their relationship building also works in the opposite direction. I admit a certain degree of entertainment in getting a post purchase inquiry into the effectiveness of other toys. As much as they are ready to take unsolicited feedback, when you shop they ask questions- and if they know you bought something in the past, they ask you about what your experience was.
So in all, I might buy most of my toys online or seek out pervertables from cooking supply and hardware stores, but the post sushi sex shop date isn’t going to stop any time soon.
Disclosure: I affiliated with pinkcherry after I realized I was giving them a bunch of business from simply bulk ordering cheapo toys and talking about it. Romance and Priape offer no compensation for being mentioned. The sushi pic is free stock photography from clker.com