Nenna Joiner, manager at local adult store and art gallery Feelmore 510, said she works to "come out from behind the desk" to interact with customers and make them more comfortable. Photo by Becca Andrews.

Oakland adult stores prepare for holiday rush

on December 19, 2013

This holiday season, like every holiday season, there are certain toys that are sure to top every letter to Santa. For 2013, Despicable Me 2 merchandise and the Playstation 4 are guaranteed to be big sellers.

But some people — those over the age of 18, we hope — will ask for the Hitachi Magic Wand, a personal massager that has serviced women in other ways since the 1970s, instead. It may be almost 40 years old, but, in the adult store industry, it’s a gift as classic as a Chia Pet.

For adult stores, the holiday season is as busy as it is for the Gap or Toys ‘R’ Us. Thanks to 50 Shades of Grey, Europe’s adult store industry had a banner holiday season in 2012, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek article. And The Deal reports that Liberator Inc., the company that produces “bedroom adventure gear,” is relying on fourth quarter sales to attract investors in the New Year.

Nenna Joiner, who owns Feelmore Adult Gallery, a sex shop and artspace in Uptown, says the adult-goods holiday shopping season is similar to traditional retail in that companies advertise more, and often release new products.

In preparation for the holidays, Joiner has stocked up on items, increased manpower, and extended the shop’s hours. Starting in December, Feelmore will be open on Sundays for the first time since the shop opened in 2011.

Over at Good Vibrations on Lakeshore, store manager Yvette Haughney will host four Customer Appreciation Nights starting December 13th, with chocolates, sparkling apple cider, and plenty of sales associates to answer questions. Twinkling lights and other nondenominational decorations will decorate the chain’s Lakeshore location for what Haughney says is the store’s busiest time of year (besides Valentine’s Day, of course).

For the most part, Haughney says, customers are buying stocking stuffers, like small toys and sample size bottles of lube: “things that they can put discreetly with their partners stockings or little things that they can open without the kids being there.” But she notes that the store also sees increased sales of bigger ticket items. “Around the holidays, people want to go the extra mile and get something extra special, so they’re not just going to settle for a $20 toy,” she says. “They’re going to be investing in better-quality things.”

While there are plenty of products out on the market, Joiner recommends those that come in quality boxes so that they can be wrapped.

“When you wrap it up, it’s a real gift,” she says.

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