[sexshop] Sex– one of a college student’s favorite pastimes. Whether it is with a longtime partner, a random fling, or even just your own five digits, most of us like to engage in some form of activity that allows release. But no matter how you like to get down, there are only so many ways to have sex before things can begin to seem a little predictable.
Enter sex toys. Sex toys can be an easy, fun way to spice things up. But obtaining them can be a challenge, especially if you are shy or conservative. Walking into a sex shop for the first time can be extremely intimidating! So, The Big Green has stepped in to make the first move for you and help satisfy your curiosities.
There are three main sex-themed stores in close vicinity to campus – Priscilla’s, on West Saginaw Street, Déjà Vu on Jolly Road, and if you are willing to drive a little further, a superstore called the Lion’s Den is about 20 minutes away in Perry.
Upon entering such a place, one might expect a dark atmosphere with dim lighting, dirty floors, sneering salesmen and leering customers. Those expecting the ghastly will be disappointed. Priscilla’s easily douses the preconceptions associated with sex shops. Far from the run-down shack on the side of the road or the tacky neon-lit shop guarded by the mechanical legs of dancing girls, Priscilla’s takes residence in a small plaza along a well-populated street. Brightly lit, with mannequins in the window, the store could be a mere costume shop. Costumes are, in fact, the first thing the shopper encounters. A wide variety of risqué dresses and jumpsuits offer the more adventurous Halloweenie some fun alternatives to the traditional ghost or witch.
Toys come next. With everything from board games for couples to sexy dice, sex is turned into a game. It isn’t until the very back of the store that one even starts to encounter the serious hardware– vibrators and bondage ties galore. But even they are presented in a silly manner, with dildos of ridiculous proportions, colors, and shapes. Gag gifts make it nearly impossible not to crack a grin. You can purchase penis-shaped mugs or straws by the economy pack. Blow-up dolls for men and women are available in various shapes and sizes (for septuagenarian lovers, there was a granny doll complete with wrinkles) and edible oils and chocolate-flavored underwear promise to add some flavor to your sex life. A large DVD collection is browsed over by a patronage as diverse as any other shop, regarding the DVD’s as nonchalantly as toothpaste in a grocery store. Their overall ambivalence that is far more amusing than scary.[doll]
Priscilla employee Jennifer Beringer said she thinks people might be hesitant to go into stores like hers “because they haven’t been, and they’re nervous about what they might find.” She said when people finally do work up the nerve to come in, she thinks they are mostly “just happy that they will finally be able to fulfill their fantasies.”
Brandon Krogniac, a doorman and bartender for the Déjà Vu nightclub, which features its own sex shop very similar to Priscilla’s, agrees. “People are nervous about seeing someone they know, but [when they do come into the store], they relax – they realize it isn’t a big deal,” he said.
Melissa Jolly, a 21-year-old student at Lansing Community College made her first visit into Priscilla’s sex store with a group of friends. She said she hadn’t been in there before “because part of me felt like I was doing something wrong – I was embarrassed,” she said. She was surprised by what she found. “It kinda seemed like a joke. Like it wasn’t really real.” She was also surprised by the number and demeanor of the store’s customers. “I saw a lot of older, sophisticated [looking] men,” she marveled. “It took me by surprise that there [were] normal people there!”
Krogniac confirmed Melissa’s findings. “You’d be surprised. We get lots of girls, lots of couples!” he stated. “We get a little bit of everything,” Beringer added of her store.
Most are looking for DVDs. Beringer said the collection, which is available for both sale and for rental, is the store’s most popular item. Michael Luna, an employee for Déjà Vu, said the store’s current bestseller is One Night in Paris, a DVD featuring socialite Paris Hilton. But there seems to be a little something for everyone in both stores. From motorized mouths for men (hopefully without any teeth) to pocket “bullets” for women (handy for long car rides) to “love kits” for couples, no one is left out.
Melissa found a great gift for an upcoming friend’s birthday, and said she would definitely return with friends. But despite her pleasant experience, she still wouldn’t feel comfortable going there alone. “While I was never opposed to other people going, I [still] just feel that if people saw me shopping there, they might look at me differently, or like I was doing something wrong.”
The Lion’s Den, an adult superstore on Lansing Road in Perry, has had experience dealing with such judgmental thinking. According to the Lansing State Journal, when the store opened in 2003, the citizens of the small town were “in an uproar.”
Today, two years later, head supervisor of Perry’s location, Keith Oatley says Perry has really come around to them. Maybe the town has taken note of the donations The Lion’s Den gives to support Lansing schools, or the Perry cancer funds the superstore gives to. “[We] really give back to the community,” said Oatley. “Perry is putting up with us.”
He said the store does extremely well today, and clientele of all kinds are noticing. “Five years ago even, the ratio for male to female [shoppers] would’ve been about 20:1,” he said. “Now it’s almost equal; we get about 600 men a week, and 550 women. That’s a huge change.” Oatley says the shopping experience still surprises most people. “I get guys that come in and say their girlfriends are waiting in the car. They won’t come in. But when they see how clean the store is, they can’t believe it. They go back out to get their girlfriends.”
Psychology junior Aubrey Armstrong, said she would have ventured into the Lion’s Den, but the store’s strict I.D. policy wouldn’t allow her to do so. “I forgot my I.D, so I had to wait in the car,” she said. The store is adamant about making sure all of its customers are of 18 and older, and even has its windows painted darkly so those who aren’t of age won’t be able to window shop.
Of course, there are still those people who object. “The people that [really] didn’t accept us before probably still don’t, and are never going to,” Oatley said. But for those who are interested, he encourages them to “relax and come in. We have lots of helpful people [willing to assist you]. We have moms and dads working here; they’re everyday people,” he said. He said many are surprised that they are asked to be assisted, but his employees like to put customer service first. “We can help,” he said. “We can help you find what you are looking for. If you have medical issues or problems, we can make good recommendations.”
“Try it out,” Krogniac suggests. “Don’t knock it until you try it.”
Any one of these three local shops would be happy to assist you in your erotic adventure. Déjà Vu also features live dancing, if you are into that sort of thing. And most offer an online buying option for those who still aren’t brave enough to venture in. And if these stores aren’t exactly for you, well, “you don’t have to come in,” Oatley said.

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