Quality and Safety. These two words are casually tossed around in almost every aspect of our lives, and adult retail is no exception. You likely didn’t expect these two topics to be the focus of a Puff and Pleasure column, but these concepts should be embraced by everyone in our space, whether a retailer or a buyer.
In the past few years, many pleasure product manufacturing companies have realized that customers have demanded higher standards of quality and those companies have been happy to meet those requirements. Years ago, no one cared about the materials being used in the manufacturing of personal pleasure products. If you’re struggling to wrap your head around that, you’re not alone. Hello? We’re inserting these things into bodily orifices. Material is—well—pretty material here.
Have you ever considered the smell of your toy? Calm down; we’re talking pre-use here. Years ago, an adult toy fresh out of its packaging smelled as clean and new as an Oldsmobile that just rolled off the assembly line. But here’s the thing about that “new car smell” we’ve all come to know and love: It’s the off gassing of phthalates, a commonly used plasticizer that softens plastics and rubber items to make them more flexible.
Okay, now I’m gonna go all science geek on ya. Years ago, researchers discovered phthalates are weak endocrine disrupters, believed to alter infants’ testosterone levels. Many governments, starting with the EU, banned them in the manufacturing of children’s toys, along with grown-up toys of the “insertable” variety. U.S. manufacturers eventually removed the chemical from intimate toy production as well. The industry moved toward body safe TPR, TPE, and silicone; rubbers that don’t use any phthalates. If you’ve shopped for a sex toy or two, you’ve likely noticed the “free from phthalates” claim on a lot of packaging. Now you know why. #TheMoreYouKnow
Another safety concern, which the adult industry is increasingly addressing, is the use of small, button batteries, AKA “watch batteries” or “coin batteries,” which can and have been ingested by small children. Luckily, this one has worked itself out naturally, as most toys are now rechargeable, making the buttons obsolete. While we’re discussing the children, though, please keep all of your grown-up pleasure products out of their reach—whether we’re talking about sex toys or your smoking accessories. And for the love of Venus, Bacchus, Pan, Aphrodite, et al, keep your damn edibles locked up and away from the kiddos.
Maybe this next point should go without saying, but maybe we are a society that needs to be reminded not to eat the silica gel, so here goes. Be as safe with your glass dildos as you are with your glass bongs! Need I say more?! If you’re using a glass toy near a hard surface, make sure your hands aren’t slippery. Need to wash yours? Exercise caution. Broken glass is never fun. Broken glass dildo? * Shiver *. Glass dildos are usually much sturdier than your typical glass bong or pipe, but they’re still glass and you should therefore use care when enjoying them.
In regard to quality, I’m happy to report that many of the significant manufacturers now host their own warranty platforms, eliminating the need to return defective toys to the store where they were purchased. For example, Evolved and their related companies offer a nice, five-year warranty on their products. Many other companies offer their own warranty as well. Satisfyer offers a fifteen year warranty—as if you’re going to hold on to products for that long!
As retailers, you may be able to snag a tester for your store from the manufacturer or distributor, since most of them are more generous with testers these days, knowing that holding their toys will clinch a sale. Since testers aren’t an option for most of the products in the smoke and cannabis accessory world, the tester option for adult toys could open new possibilities for customer interaction. When growing your adult products section, this will establish a stronger bond with your customers, making your place a “one stop shopping” business for all their adult pleasure time needs.
One last note: Take advantage of your distributor’s knowledge about product warranties, materials used in the toys, and any other pertinent information to share with your customers. The more reputable the pleasure products are, the more reputable your business will be.