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30 Memorable Moments at Sh! Women's Store

30 Memorable Moments at Sh! Women's Store

The good, the bad and why it's all been worth it!

The Good Times - The times that gave us held us up!

  • The fun! We've had so much fun over the last 30 years!

Whether it's been:

  • The absolutely fabulous private bash we held for the cream of British comedy!
  • The spanking class we gave for a WWI meeting where 80-year old Mary was laughing so hard, she almost fell off her chair! 
  • The annual sex-positive event at Positively UK, where there’s always lots of giggles as we show plush vulvas, talk about vibrators and lube, and ask the women to share their favourite words for 'vagina'.
  • The playful chatbox conversations, like the soon-to-be bride, who wanted advice on how to make her ‘one last fling before she got hitched’ super-memorable…with her bridesmaid!  
  • And the countless hilarious ‘behind the scenes’ incidents, which have left staff (and customers) gasping and giggling, like the dildo-maker emerging from the dildo room, head-to-toe in red pigment and a face to match…

The overriding memory is of fun we've had! Apart from simply feeling good, laughing together, whether sharing a gentle or cheeky joke or bare hysterics, has an added advantage of breaking down barriers and forming connections around talking about sex.

  • The glee of being asked to Downing Street and even more so of getting the toy we took as a pressie through security.
  • The craziness of making Heston’s jelly wobble. We’ve done quite a lot of telly over the years, but this stands out as the most surreal…and fun. With jelly flying everywhere, the clean-up afterwards was unreal – nobody wants to handle a sticky display vibe.
  • The fist-bump we give ourselves in managing to bridge the gap between health and sex. It hasn’t been an easy journey. Generally, we’ve used gentle and sensitive persuasion, as so few health professionals are relaxed when talking about sex. But we have to admit to a few arguments with (usually male) doctors about the existence of the G-spot, now known to be part of the internal clitoral structure, but nobody knew that (apparantly;) before Helen O’Connell discovered it in 1998!
  • The rewards of raising awareness of the more difficult sexuality topics, such as difficulty orgasming, painful sex or sex after rape, FGM or cancer, are usually shrouded in silence. Whether setting pussy-power to *high* making glittery vulva earrings with guests at Cafe V. or connecting people worldwide on a Vaginismus Insta-Live, it’s rewarding, ensuring people feel less alone, and empowering them with knowledge and shared connection.
Vulva-shaped earrings in glittery gold with black lines
  • The determination and the delight in cracking silicone production, a very sensitive process which resulted in a LOT of misshapen dildos, only fit for dog toys, in the early days. But with every commercial dildo at that time being ‘dick-shaped’ and our LGBTQ customers crying out for non-realistic alternatives, we had to do it and we did – the 1st manufacturers of silicone toys in Europe!
  • The pride of all our awards - about 20 and counting - it’s always nice to be recognised!

The Bad Times - The times that dragged us down... 

(But you can't keep a good woman down for long - she gets up stronger, with more resolve than ever before;)

  • The outrage when our donation to Breast cancer charity was refused, because they couldn’t accept it from an ‘adult’ business, which is why being invited to work with Macmillian & Sex with Cancer today is such a testament to how times have changed.
  • The slog of a 30 years battle against large corporations ‘adult-phobia’ for things like insurance and card payments. We get where it comes from (many ‘adult’ businesses historically sprung from unscrupulous porn businesses) but it’s been an exhausting battle to turn the ship around to see that ethical business can exist in this sphere.
  • The exasperation of a lifetime of ‘Mr Measure’s – the name we gave to one particular ‘dirty caller’ who would repeatedly call to ask just how big was our biggest dildo? Only when we with the ruler in hand, did it dawn that Mr Measure was getting off on our innocent measuring. We’ve always taken every customer’s question as genuine and understand people can be nervous and stuttery when talking about sex. Mostly this has served us well and we’ve been able to help a lot of people get the advice they can’t get elsewhere – but the dirty-callers have always driven us mad! 
  • The frustration of customers who have tried to steal vibrators by slipping them into their knickers, inviting staff to join them in a threesome, or even just getting over-amorous in the changing room (which we understand, but still is not pleasure-shopping etiquette!)
  • The shock of walking into our warehouse to find the whole place empty, after being ram-raided overnight – the thieves took literally EVERYTHING.
  • The sheer scariness of stepping into the court to defend a charge of ‘running a sex shop without a licence’. Ky may be a maverick, but she’d never before been in trouble with the law!
  • The frustration of trying to find decent quality, let alone female-friendly toys, for the first 10 years, is why discovering Jessica Rabbit vibrator is such a stand-out moment and why the toys of today are such a joy. 
  • The panic of instantly having to close the shop during the lockdowns, losing 70% of our income overnight, followed by sadness, when we quickly realised that with no support on rent, we would not be opening again.
  • The vexation of having to p*ssy-foot on social media, lest we get struck off! 

We're sad to say 'adult-phobia' is alive and well in the 21st C, and still unable to make the distinction between education and exploitation.

  • The constant state of aghastness that women/female-bodied pleasure is under-valued, treated with ignorance or often simply ignored. It's got a lot better since Ky first stepped into the dark, dingy sex shop to explore her own sexuality, only to be told 'we don't see many women in here'… But it still needs to do better!

The LOVE...for SO many of our customers, whose own journeys have made our journey so worthwhile!

  • Like the customer who was told (by her doctor) that she would never feel pleasure again after cancer treatment split her clitoris in two. As it turned out, all she needed was some advice, a wand massager and a bottle of arousal oil... She did the rest herself! 
  • Like the customer who'd never given her husband a blow job. She didn’t know how to do it, didn’t think she’d like it and generally avoided the groin area.  A big 40th wedding anniversary was coming up, and she wanted to surprise him, so she threw herself into Mind-Blowing BJ’s class. A couple of weeks after the big reveal, when they’d returned from their celebratory cruise, she messaged to tell us: 'He was so pleased he could barely walk!'
Sex Educator Evie in the sex shop, holding a banana and looking very happy
  • Like the customer who presented us with a wish list of kinky goodies her husband wanted. Only he had forgotten to ask what she wanted. We asked and she left swinging a bag with goodies for herself (and nothing for him!).
  • Like the customer who spotted our message on Twitter: 'Having a bad day. Please send chocolate' - and sent a box of handmade chocolate brownies...
  • Like the couple who excitedly called to let us know they conceived!  The newly expecting parents put their little miracle down to our Vaginismus advice and Vaginal Dilators Set and which had helped them to have pain-free penetrative sex.
  • Like the letter we received, which spurred us on to help more sexual assault survivors reclaim their bodies and their pleasure.
  • Like the 74-year-old customer who messaged, just last week, on our chatbox asking for advice on buying her first vibrator. We worried that losing the shop would mean losing our ability to personally advise and we are delighted to be wrong about that!
  • Like the couple who invited us to their wedding. Sh! had spurred an openness about talking about sex together and they wanted us to be there to celebrate that!
  • The lovely gent who initially called upset that his erectile dysfunction was robbing his marriage of intimacy. We suggested a strap-on, which worked wonders! Mr Smiles called for over a decade asking our advice, as his wife descended into Alziemers and, because of it, he started to explore solo sex more… 

Read the full Story of Sh!

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30 Memorable Moments at Sh! Women's Store
30 Memorable Moments at Sh! Women's Store

The good, the bad and why it's all been worth it!

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