When asked what they immediately think of upon hearing the words ‘sex shop’ many people think of seedy backstreet shops with big neon lights promoting sex and in some cases they would be correct. Originally this is what the majority of sex shops were like, the first ever sex shop opened in Germany in 1962 by a company known as Beate Uhse AG which went on to become Germanys most successful company in the sex industry. After then sex shops began to pop up in the UK, one area in particular was Soho in London, which given that it had been regarded as the heart of the British sex scene for 200 years was an obvious place for these shops to appear, in the 1960’s there were a total of 59 sex shops open in that area as well as countless numbers of brothels and strip-clubs.
It is safe to say that these sex shops were predominantly aimed at a certain type of man, a man who knew Soho for its prostitution and sex thrills it offered. This and the rising subject of the feminist movement led to a new type of sex shop appearing which was one aimed solely at women. The first being Ann Summers which opened its doors in 1970 and eleven years later came up with the idea of the infamous ‘Ann summers parties’ where women and women alone held parties at their own home and were able to find out about sex toys and purchase them if they wished. Another female oriented shop opened in London in 1992 and went by the name of SH! Women’s Erotic Emporium.
Then in 1997 a new revolutionised sex shopping experience opened in the form of Pulse and Cocktails, they saw a niche in the market for an up-market sex shop that did not just focus on one sex. There was no place couples could go and shop together and feel at ease as they did so and the company realised this then Pulse and Cocktails was created. They decided on a new shopping experience in the form of two sections to the store, the first being Cocktails which focused on items such as lingerie, clothing and novelty items and then the other side being Pulse which sells sex toys and pornography. The idea behind this being that if people wanted to come and shop for clothes but didn’t want to see some of the more extreme side to sex then they did not have too as it would be separate.
The company also wanted to get away from the negative stigma that is associated with sex shops and therefore include no big neon signs at the front of their shops and you can see this from the name, Pulse and Cocktails shows no hint of sex in the title. Their company motto is ‘couples who play together stay together’ again no sign of sex of seediness at all. Like all other licensed sex shops they are not allowed to show anything of a sexual nature in their shop windows, which includes things such as sex toys, this means that most of the outsides of their 22 shops show contemporary sexy photography which looks up-market and friendly.
New laws regarding the sale of pornographic films means that all shops wanting to sell them now need a licence, this reinforces the stereotype to people that sex shops with a licence just sell hardcore porn which is just not the case. Pulse and Cocktails embrace the fact that not everyone wants to see pornography and place the DVD sections in their stores out of the way and in some cases even upstairs.
This shows that the idea of sex shops has changed a great deal over the past 50 years, Pulse and Cocktails realised that couples sometimes need a helping hand to make their relationship work and in the majority of cases people stray away because they are bored. They have made embarrassment purchasing toys a thing of the past and aim for it to stay there.