Ok, boys and girls; time to put your grown-up pants on. We’re going to be discussing sex today and we don’t need any snickering from the back. Let’s be adults about this.
Honestly, that call to maturity was just as much for me as it was for the readers; probably more so. Yes, I still find myself stifling a Quagmire-esque “Giggity!” on a regular basis. No, I’m not proud of that.
Luckily, Jackie and Rocco are used to it. They have to be; they’re the co-managers Staten Island’s NiteCap Megastore, one of the largest adult novelty and smoke shops in the Northeast, or as Rocco calls it, the “Costco for adults.” They handle my awkward stumbles with patience and poise, unphased by my sophomoric shortcomings. For them, this isn’t something that has to be whispered in the shadows or laughed off to avoid embarrassment. It’s just what they do.
“People are like, ‘Oh, you must get a lot of weirdos in here,’” Jackie says. “We can honestly respond, ‘WE are the weirdos. It’s us you have to worry about.” It’s not a confession. It’s a proud profession, embedded in the knowledge that she’s not alone—that there is a ‘freak’ in all of us that could use some attention.
“Everybody here has their own kink,” Rocco adds, “they have their own vices that they own and maintain. We had a little old man who brought us home grown peppers as a gift. He did that because he appreciated the knowledge we provided him. It meant so much to me.”
Sadly, the taboos still create the occasional hurdle for the smoke shop side, which Rocco manages.
“There were companies that wouldn’t do business with us because we sold rubber dicks,” he recalls. “It’s just like, ‘Why not? We could fit four of our competitors into one section of our store.’” Yes, it’s really that big. Fortunately, the vendors have begun to see the light. “Now, they’re calling and they’re begging,” he adds. So, size does matter? Giggity.
The smoke shop isn’t just an afterthought tacked onto a thriving sex emporium. It’s colossus all on its own, stocked to the brim with every gadget, gizmo and glass piece a discerning customer could want, from heddies priced up to $5,000 all the way down to a one-dollar packs of papers. Their vape section alone could fill up the average store.
But with a location far off the beaten path of the retail district, selection alone isn’t enough. It’s about service and salesmanship—and of course, saleswomanship—a delicate balance in the fringe world where smoking culture and intimate pleasures converge.
“You have to pace your customer,” Jackie explains. “If they walk in with glasses and a hoodie and their arms crossed, they obviously don’t want to talk to you yet. They may not want to talk at all. But inevitably, they walk around, they let their guard down a little, they get comfortable.”
Once they’re comfortable, “It’s like selling a car of anything else, really,” Jackie says. “What’s the purpose? Where are you going? You build upon that. If it’s a guy, maybe you could lean forward, ‘This is going to be a fantastic night. This is going to be a long night. You might want to consider lubricant to make sure everyone has more fun. Oh, that’s not her issue? That’s fine. Maybe you want to make it flavor or warming. Something different. Then you throw out analogies. Something that all people understand. Like, ‘Chicken is good, but let’s add some hot sauce,’ and they’re like, ‘Haha!’
“Once they laugh, they’re yours.”
NiteCap Megastore – Staten Island, NY – 718-370-8100