As a sexuality educator who works on the sales floor of a retail sex toy store, I’m asked a lot of questions about health, pleasure, and our products. Even after nine years at the Tool Shed, I hear brand new questions every week. But there are also a lot of questions that we are asked several times a day. During a recent four-hour shift, I was asked all five of the most common questions we get in the store. This week, instead of answering a reader question, I’m answering these five questions for all of you!
1. What’s the most popular thing you sell?
The answer to this question is both boring and encouraging. The single item we sell most often is condoms. This is boring because people who ask this question just want to buy a popular (and thus good or reliable) sex toy. It’s also encouraging because it means that the fine citizens of the Milwaukee area are suiting up before sex, and that’s awesome!
Okay, but seriously. We sell a lot of condoms. We have a fabulous condom bar where you can mix and match to find the perfect condom for you! We have colored condoms, flavored condoms, glow-in-the-dark condoms, textured condoms, large condoms and more! Oh, and most of our condoms are just 50 cents a piece! It doesn’t get better than that.
2. What’s the best vibrator you carry?
This is a question that just can’t be answered. I’m sorry. I know it would be much easier if our staff would just say, “The best vibrator is definitely the Sensual-Erotic-Tango-for-Two VibroMaxDeluxe*.” Then you’d know you’re getting something high quality and likely to satisfy. But it just doesn’t work that way. For folks who have mostly purchased toys online, reading the reviews is a key part of the process. At the Tool Shed, we don’t do reviews. Instead, when you’re shopping in person, you can pick up the toys and handle them. This allows you to feel the vibration and get a real sense of just how big or small a toy is.
Part of picking a vibrator is thinking about where on your body you’re going to use it, and then finding the size and shape that will stimulate that body part the best. Smaller vibrators are great for external stimulation of the clit, nipples, scrotum or shaft. Longer vibrators are good for penetrating the vagina and g-spot stimulation. If you want to put a vibrator in your butt, you’ll need something with a flared base.
Additionally, the intensity and the quality of the vibration varies drastically from toy to toy, and one person’s nirvana is going to be another person’s never-again. Some folks need something with variable speeds so they can ramp up their sexual response, and others just want single low or high speed for the duration of use.
3. Which toys are for couples?
Well, to be completely frank, any toy you use with another person is a couple’s toy. I know that sounds trite, but it’s true. Humans are amazingly creative when it comes to sex. Folks take toys home and use them in all sorts of ways that may not ever occur to anyone outside of their relationship. Figuring out what’s a “couple’s toy” also means knowing the configuration of the couple. Does your relationship have a person with a penis and a person with a vagina? Or two people with penises? Or two people with vaginas? Or maybe some other beautiful configuration of genitals?
I don’t want to seem coy, though. I know that usually when people are asking about couple’s toys, they want to find something that can be used during penis-in-vagina sex. For those folks, we have several great options. Vibrating cock rings are typically worn around the shaft of the penis (or a dildo). The vibrator then makes contact with either the clitoris or the perineum (depending on what position you’re in) during thrusting. C-shaped toys like the We-Vibe Match are designed to be worn during penetration, with one end inside the vagina and the other resting against the clitoris. The portion inside the vagina stimulates the g-spot during thrusting. And, both ends vibrate so both parties get to share the experience. Finally, I often recommend that folks check out the ever-growing world of teledildonics when they’re looking for a good couple’s toy. These toys can be controlled from anywhere in the world, which can really help people stay connected no matter where they are.
4. Do you have this toy and do you like it?
I’m not answering that question, and I’m also not answering the second part of that question. There are two reasons for my refusal. The first is that when I’m at the Tool Shed, I’m at work. Even though I love my job, and even though I’m surrounded by sexy things all day…I’m still at work. I don’t talk about my sex life at work, not even with my co-workers. And secondly, even if I felt comfortable telling a customer about my sex life, what works for my body may not work for your body. (The answer to question two doesn’t just apply to vibrators. It applies to every type of toy we carry.) Making a recommendation based on my own preferences will likely just encourage people to buy a toy that is all wrong for them.
5. Will my (wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner) like this one?
Heyo! I bet you’ve figured out the answer to this question by now. Sadly, I have no idea if your special someone will enjoy any given toy in our store. When customers are really stumped about what to buy their sweetie, we have two good recommendations. The first is to come shopping together! It can be a fun and exciting date, and you can both feel the toys and make decisions based on your own personal preferences. Even spending some time browsing our website together can really help you know what kind of toy you’re looking for. If shopping together isn’t an option, you can always pick up a Tool Shed gift card instead of a toy. That way your partner gets to pick their own toy, and it’s much more likely to be a hit.
* There is no Sensual-Erotic-Tango-for-Two VibroMaxDeluxe. I made that up.
Curious about cunnilingus? Anxious about anal? Do you have questions about queefs or problems with your prostate? Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee’s only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Send her an email at email@example.com and she’ll get back to you with an answer.