When you’re looking to add to your collection of adult toys, there are an overwhelming array of places to look. Some of these places are reputable and offer a fantastic range of toys while others are…kinda dodgy. Today I want to chat a little about where I get my toys from, and the pros and cons of each of these sources.
Before we begin, I want to start off by suggesting that it’s not a great idea to buy adult toys from Amazon or Ebay. While it’s true that their prices can be very competitive, there is very little quality control and it’s entirely possible that you’ll wind up with a toy that doesn’t match the description. I’ve heard horror stories of people unwrapping adult toys that are counterfeit, made of questionable materials or have clearly been used. It can be tempting to pick up a discount toy from Amazon, but it really isn’t worth the risk. All of my favourite retailers have regular sales, and offer toys for all budgets, so even if you don’t have a load of cash to splash, you’ll still be able to find a quality toy.
There are three broad categories of places where I get my adult toys: online stores, brick and mortar stores, and conventions. Lets look at each of these options and weigh up the pros and cons.
Online stores are probably the most popular way for people to source adult toys. There are literally hundreds of stores online which offer a dizzying array of toys. There are online stores that specialize in particular kinds of toys, and others which have a wider variety. One of the biggest benefits of shopping online is the anonymity. For a lot of folks, the idea of walking into an adult store leaves them feeling clammy and embarrassed. Having to hand your selection to the cashier and carry it out of the shop is simply too much for some people. If you can’t stand the idea of in-person shopping for intimate items, then shopping online is for you. If you buy your toys from an online store, you can take your time browsing and make your selection from the privacy of your own home. Most stores use very discreet packaging, so your postie won’t know that you’ve ordered a deluxe vibrator or swanky new anal plug. Many online stores also offer fantastic discounts and very competitive shipping costs.
The main downside to shopping for toys online is the fact that you can’t actually see them in person before you make your selection. Although most stores are careful to include measurements and features with each listing, you can sometimes wind up with something that doesn’t quite fit the bill. I’ve definitely been taken aback once or twice when I unwrapped a toy that was significantly bigger or smaller than what I’d been expecting. You also don’t have the opportunity to touch and try online toys before you buy. When you shop in a brick and mortar store, there are usually trial models that you can hold and switch on to see if you like the feel of the material, or test how powerful the motor is. When you shop online, you don’t get to do that, and I’ve certainly been disappointed when I’ve unboxed a toy with a wimpy or obnoxiously loud motor that I definitely wouldn’t have bought if I’d been able to test it in the store. However, a great way to overcome this issue is by reading reviews of toys online. There are hundreds of sex bloggers out there (myself included!) who will do the hard work of testing products and reviewing them so that you can make an informed choice before you buy. If you are thinking of buying a toy online, I heartily recommend reading a few reviews before you toss it in your cart, to see whether there are any major issues that have been reported.
Brick and Mortar stores
If you prefer to shop in person, then adult stores are the place to go. I think a lot of people may be put off shopping in a brick and mortar store, because when they think of “adult stores” they picture a grimy store filled with tacky bachelorette party novelties, jelly dildos and polyester lingerie. And while those places definitely exist, they aren’t the only place to shop for adult toys. Adult stores range from giant superstores that stock thousands of products, to tiny boutique stores with highly curated collections. There are some absolutely gorgeous adult stores which are set up to create a welcoming, sex-positive environment.
In my opinion, there are two fantastic reasons to shop for adult toys in person. Firstly, you can actually see the toys in person. Most stores will have tester models available for you to hold and switch on, which can be particularly helpful if you’re buying anything with a motor. You can get a feel for which toys have vibrations that feel too buzzy, if they have tricky buttons that might be difficult to press or whether they’re too noisy for your tastes. Sometimes you might pick up a toy and be instantly drawn in by how silky the silicone feels in your hand, or put off by how heavy or awkward it is to hold. Actually getting to experience the toys before you make a purchase can help you to pick out something that you love.
The second reason that I love shopping in actual stores is that the staff are usually incredibly helpful and have an amazing depth of knowledge about the products. If you have never bought a toy before, or if you’re looking to try something completely new to you, it can be so valuable to have someone to answer your questions and help you choose something that’s going to work for you. I know that talking to a stranger about sex toys can seem very intimidating to some people, but in a reputable store the staff will be highly trained and very easy going. They’re usually very sex positive and passionate about helping you find the right product for you. If you’re hoping to buy something that you’re going to wear, like a harness or fetish clothing, they can help you try it on and ensure that you get something that fits perfectly and looks amazing. The first time I ever went into an adult shop to buy a vibrator, I was so nervous and had no real idea of what I actually wanted. The staff member who served me was so patient and made me feel comfortable instantly. She asked me loads of questions and showed me a few candidates before helping me settle on a single toy that was fantastic. Although many online stores offer live chat options with staff, I personally don’t think it quite measures up to the assistance of a real, live person.
The main downside to shopping in an actual store is the lack of anonymity. If you feel particularly anxious about buying a toy, or don’t want to have to carry your purchase home, then it might be better to opt for an online store instead.
The third place I shop for toys is adult conventions. Before COVID hit, I used to attend at least two adult conventions every year. These conventions would feature a huge range of vendors with a dizzying array of toys to choose from. The reason I love conventions is that they’re often populated with small stores and bespoke creators, who are selling their own unique designs and products. A lot of vendors will sell their toys at conventions before they’ve offered them to a store, so it’s a great opportunity to get brand-new products before anyone else. You can often have a chat with the person who designed the toy and have them help you make your selection. Conventions are also great if you have very specific interests, as you’re more likely to find niche or unusual creations.
Conventions are also a fantastic place to grab discounted toys. A lot of vendors will drop the price of their wares, or offer special deals for customers. I’ve managed to get some amazing toys for a fraction of their usual cost at adult conventions.
Like adult stores, conventions lack anonymity. They are usually very crowded, and it might be overwhelming if you feel self-conscious about buying adult toys in public or carrying your purchases. On the upside, if you’re at a convention, all of the other patrons are also there because they’re curious and exploring, and are usually very sex positive. People are typically absorbed in whatever they’re shopping for, and tend not to be paying attention to other patrons. Even though it might feel like a very public space to be shopping for toys, conventions can be incredibly non-judgemental and sex positive places.
If you’re looking for more specific recommendations, check out my “Where to Shop” page. It features links to all my favourite stores and the places where I actually purchase all my toys.