Life Working in a Sex Shop – My First Impressions
As one of the new members of the team here at Nice ‘n’ Naughty – and as somebody who had never even visited the shop before working here – I thought it would be interesting to share my first impressions and surprising realisations about life working in a sex shop.
Before I share my list, I feel like I need to answer a question that might be on your mind as you started reading this. How does someone who has never visited a sex shop before wind up working in one?
Well, the short and simple answer is… completely by accident!
OK, I guess that doesn’t really answer the question. Allow me to elaborate:
I enjoy trying new things, meaning my working background is quite varied. From food service, clothing retail, manual labour, teaching, office jobs, barista, freelance artworker… I’ve tried it all. So, when a friend of mine (currently working for the company but not in the shop) told me how much she loved her job and suggested I apply for the open position here at Nice ‘n’ Naughty, I thought well…why not?
That doesn’t mean I didn’t have any doubts – I had no idea what to expect – but that element of the unknown was part of the fun. Even if it didn’t work out, I was bound to have a good story to tell, right?
So after a round of interviews and meeting with the people in charge, the time came for me to officially start my journey in this completely new (to me) industry.
And now, without further ado, here are 5 realisations I’ve had about life working in a sex shop.
How clean and bright the shop is.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone says “sex shop” to you? If you’re like me and have never visited before, you probably picture a dark and dingy underground dungeon hidden down a back alley. Black walls, damp and rusty industrial looking ceiling, dim lighting, dusty, smells like an armpit, probably a few unsavoury characters producing said armpit smell… you get the idea.
The reality couldn’t have been further from this. The shop is situated right on the high street – no dark alleys here -with a simple chic exterior. Mannequins modelling a selection of lingerie in the windows and a double entry as the law requires. Very unassuming from the outside.
At this point, with my hand on the door, is when I began to get a little nervous. What was awaiting me inside? With the mental images of the aforementioned dungeon scenario flashing across my mind, I pushed the door open.
Inside however was unexpectedly light and bright. With the light textured wallpaper, glass shelving and plenty of LED lighting to give it that modern feel, the notions of that dark dungeon vanished immediately. Compared to that seedy squalor I had been envisioning, this was classy.
So initial fears be damned. This is a bright and clean environment I’m perfectly happy to be working in.
How friendly – and human – the staff are.
Following up from that idea of the dark and dirty dungeon – who do you expect to run and work in a place like that? Someone with no sense of personal hygiene or people skills? Exactly.
But as I pushed open the door, I’m greeted warmly by a smiling lady stood behind the counter. Anyone who has been in before will know the lovely Lindsey. After introductions and explanations of how things run, we were able to chat casually, and we got on extremely well. I felt very welcome and reassured that I was going to have support as I transitioned into my new job.
And as the days and weeks have gone by and I’ve met most of the staff – at least over the phone if I haven’t seen them in person yet – it soon became clear to me just how much respect every single member of staff has for each other. We greet each other and chat like we would friends and family – and this extends to our customers too.
I was also reminded that this is a job just like any other. It’s run by people. People who have more sides to them than where they work. They have friends, hobbies, interests, families. The fact that we sell dildos and vibrators for a living is almost insignificant – no different to when I was selling coffees. Well… there are some areas that are very different. More on this next.
The interactions and scenarios are like no other workplace.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve seen my fair share of work environments. And this is like no other I’ve ever encountered before. Some interactions have felt quite surreal to me.
Picture the scene:
Brand new job. You’ve ironed your clothes and shined your shoes. You’ve made your way to your place of business and now you must get to know your products.
I’m fortunate I had Lindsey’s expertise to guide me – and she proceeds to hand me various toys so I can get a feel for them and how they work. Great. No problem.
So, with a hearty “here, feel this,” I have a sizable dildo slapped into my hands (a very real feel just FYI.) and from behind me I hear the door open. And I have the sudden realisation: I’m at work… a customer has just walked in…. and I’m waving a dildo around! And yet… it’s completely normal here. Not even a second glance. I don’t feel the reaction would’ve been quite the same had I got a dildo out in the middle of a coffee shop, you know?
And it’s not just the toys. My entire definition of professionalism has had to change. Where certain topics were taboo to discuss in a workplace before; now it’s normal. Encouraged. Expected.
Here’s a few examples:
- Customer 1: “Hello, I’m looking for some kind of cock-ring that will also be stimulating for my wife while we’re in missionary position.”
Me: “Right you are, sir. Just follow me, I have several options for you…”
(We opted for a vibrating cock-ring with rabbit ears – just in case you were wondering.)
- Customer 2 (handing me a DVD): “Excuse me, do you know if this is mainly couples or if it has threesomes?”
Me: “I’m not sure. Let me just do a quick look online for you, we might be able to find a trailer that will tell us.”
And so, here I am. At work. LOOKING UP PORN. What other place of business would this even be possible let alone allowed?!
(It turned out to have a mixture of scenes, and the customer was happy to buy.)
- Customer 3 browsing our wand vibrators: “Excuse me, how much is this?
This one happened to be one of our top-of-the-line models, and of course had a top-of-the-line price tag to match.
- Customer: “OH… I love my fanny, but not THAT much!”
Turns out you can put a price on that kind of love. But not to worry, we found an alternative model to better suit her budget, and everyone left happy.
And that’s just a mild sample of the kind of conversations and interactions I have daily now. It’s certainly different – and I never know what the next person is going to say. Of course, I’ve kept these examples on the lighter side. But that’s not always the case. Which leads me onto my next point.
It’s not just about sex.
As you can imagine, for the vast majority of what we sell it IS about the sex. It’s about spicing things up in the bedroom. Finding the next thing that can take your intimate life to the next level of pleasure. And we have plenty of options for you to try out.
For some, however, their reality is a little bit different. And we do our best to cater to these needs too.
No matter your background or how you identify – we pride ourselves on being a safe space where you can be authentically you. No judgement. No questions asked. 100% discretion.
Not sure what I mean? Consider the following:
- Perhaps you’re completely new to the world of sex/toys and aren’t sure where to start. What do half of these things even do? We’re here to help explain to you.
- Do you want to try cross-dressing? We have outfits and wigs to choose from. We can assist you in finding what you’re looking for.
- Do you identify differently to your birth-assigned gender? That’s great. We have the tools to help you live more authentically. Do you need a packer? Breast-forms? We can get you those.
And in some cases, it’s not even about sex toys OR expression. There are times where we’ve been able to help in other ways:
- Struggling with lower libido or erectile dysfunction? We have aphrodisiacs and herbal supplements that can help. In fact, these are one of the most popular items.
- We helped ladies going through menopause who are having difficulty with self-lubrication. This is completely natural and nothing at all to worry about. We have plenty of lubricants you could use instead. Just ask us and we’ll help guide you.
- We’ve even been able to provide for a lady who had a mastectomy to combat breast cancer. She was able to purchase one of our bras with silicone breasts. The silicone breasts pop out, meaning she was able to have one natural breast and one silicone. This allowed her to feel more comfortable and confident in her body. Amazing, right? She even commented that they were much nicer than the ones provided to her on the NHS too.
I’ll bet you never considered there’s a more wholesome service that a “sex shop” is able to provide. And who could blame you? It certainly never crossed my mind before. Not everyone gets to see the care that also goes into what we do.
There’s no need to feel embarrassed.
I get it. It’s a natural reaction to feel embarrassed around the topic of sex. We’re taught from an early age that it is inappropriate to discuss in public. It’s private. Nobody needs to know. Shh!
The reality: it’s the most natural thing in the world. Every single person that exists today is the result of a sexual act. Everyone has either thought about it, has tried it, or is doing it regularly. And honest communication is the key foundation to a happy, healthy sex life.
As humans, we often experience what is known as “the spotlight effect”. It’s a psychological term to describe how we have a tendency to overestimate how much other people notice us, our flaws, our mistakes and judge us.
Not sure what I mean? Take this for example: You wake up late for work. You’ve got to rush to get ready. Your hair is a little dishevelled, you didn’t have time to shower – you used deodorant and perfume to mask – and there is no time for makeup today. You get to work and feel like all your co-workers are judging you for being scruffy and smelly. You might blush. You might apologise for “looking a mess” or “sorry if I smell.”
Chances are your co-workers are that busy with their own jobs, lives, and similar worries, that they didn’t even realise there was anything different. “Morning, Janet, can you have a look at that e-mail I sent you?” Pete says, barely glancing at you as he bypasses your desk at top speed – concerned you might notice the little coffee stain on his shirt. But you weren’t even thinking about that. What colour was his shirt? You don’t recall.
The same is true in our shop. You might be out of your comfort zone – you’ve never been in the shop before. You’ve never tried a paddle before. Someone else is browsing nearby and can see what you’ve picked up. And when you bring it to me at the till, I’m going to know that spanking is something you want to try. I’m going to know you’ve got some kinky plans for later. This is SO embarrassing.
Whereas, really, everyone who comes in has come for the same reason: to spice up their private life. And for me, this is the fifth paddle I’ve sold in two days. I’m glad to know they’ve done well. I should probably order some more now. (And FYI, just about every customer I have has plans to have sex or masturbate later. I try not to even think about it.)
I’m not even going to mention the items you’ve picked out unless you’re asking for assistance. Instead, I’m going to ask you about your day, the weather, perhaps you’re carrying a bag from another shop I recognise. Maybe I heard you say you were heading out to a restaurant – ooh how’s the food there? I work alone most days. I’m grateful for a bit of conversation. And you might suddenly come to the same conclusion I did earlier: I’m human too. I’m just doing my job. I’m passing the time. I’m not here to judge you.
And remember, I do this every day. Chances are, I’ve heard the question you’re going to ask dozens of times already. I’ve sold that item before. Someone else has bought something way more “extreme”. And If I don’t know the answer to your question, I’ll do my best to find out for you. There’s new stuff all the time – it’s a learning opportunity for us both.
And we do our best to be discreet. We respect your privacy. We won’t follow you around the shop, we’ll just check in that you’re ok. Any bags you need will be plain. And if you happen to see us out and about – we won’t initiate a conversation unless you do. We wouldn’t want you to have to admit to Auntie Brenda where you know us from. And if you do say hello, we won’t reveal any details. We won’t bound over yelling “how was that new vibrator?! Did you enjoy that DVD?!” We’ll be friendly and ask how you are. Complete discretion. There’s no need to feel embarrassed.
Being on the other side and seeing exactly how things run day to day, meeting everyone in the company – it’s been an interesting journey, certainly different to other businesses I’ve been in. But I’ve been enjoying my time here and I’m intrigued as to how it will develop and change over time.
A whole new world has been opened to me – and it’s nothing at all like I previously thought. I’ve realised that there’s nothing taboo or shameful about what we do and sell. At its core, it's about promoting healthy, happy relationships. We give you the tools to live a more authentic life – and you can fill it with as much pleasure (or pain) as you want!
I’ve certainly gotten more comfortable coming in. I don’t even think about who might see or be watching anymore. I stroll right on in. What does it matter? Even on days off, I’ll pop in and see how things are going. And, yes, I may have bought an item or two for myself.
So, my question to you: When are you coming to see us?
Check out our guides on lubricant and how to pick your next favourite toy for further help or take a TikTok tour of our Chester Store.