It happens out here (most recently, at a Culver City sex shop near the home of a woman I was dating), it happened back East, it happens everywhere. You walk into a sex shop, begin browsing, and, within two minutes, a young Goth staffer comes over and says, “I use this at home, and I really love it.” Then she proceeds to give you a sexual symposium on the merits of German vs. Japanese (and I don’t mean cars), furry vs. metallic, water vs. oil, etc. The problem is, we didn’t ask.
I call this The Nordstrom Effect. It reminds me of those Nordstrom salespeople who, though typically not young nor Goth, are just as overly helpful as the sex shop girls. In both cases, what starts out as accommodating quickly becomes annoying.
At Nordstrom, I think the salespeople do this because (1) commission is likely a big part of their compensation; and (2) they want to uphold Nordstrom’s well-deserved reputation for excellent customer service. However, at the sex shops, I think it’s nerves. Specifically, the salespeople and their managers figure that many customers in their stores are uncomfortable and in need of hand-holding.
And sometimes they are right. I’m sure there are many people — perhaps women more than men, if this series is an indication — who feel shy about striding into sex shops and picking out personal items. (Guys often have their own problems in other stores, such as when picking out lingerie for their women).
The cure for The Nordstrom Effect, and the shyness which may cause it, can be found online. There are tons of Internet retailers out there, such as Adam and Eve , 123 Adult Store, and Sex Toy Sex.org (links NSFW, obviously), where you can shop in the privacy of your own home. Moreover, some of the Los Angeles area shops profiled in this series provide online shopping as well. Many of the well-known sites will send your items in discrete packaging designed not to raise the red flags (or any other parts) of nosy neighbors and pervy postmen. Coincidentally, I met one such retailer the other night, the woman who runs the Los Angeles-based Sex-Butter.com (not to be confused with Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax for your surfboard, unless you are using “surfboard” as a euphemism), who sells her products primarily online.
Of course, it is a fun experience to grab your sweetheart or friends and check out a sex shop or three in the flesh, whether as a bona fide shopper or simply a tourist. Our writers in this series have done just that, profiling some of the sex shops they like in the Los Angeles area. However, if avoiding The Nordstrom Effect is a priority, then shopping online might be just what the Naughty Nurse ordered, on Valentine’s Day or any other day.
[Part of blogging.la’s “We’ve Got Valentine’s Day Licked” series]