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Monday, February 27, 2006

The mainstreaming of sex toys

From backstreet to high street... but is women's increasing interest in risque bedroom products more to do with marketing than sexual liberation? Although better known as the nation's favourite chemist, Boots is currently considering stocking sex toys in a bid to restore flagging sales and attract more of its main customer base of women into the stores. Sex sells. This is no big revelation. The difference now is that it sells as well to women as it does to men. The creation of a slew of stores, from industry pioneer Ann Summers (set up 20 years ago) to high-class sophisticates Myla and Coco de Mer, is a testament to the cash millions out there to be harvested. On Friday, Hustler Hollywood opened in Birmingham. It's target customer? Sixty percent female. Theresa Flynt, daughter of Larry Flynt and director of the UK Hustler stores, is pitching the shop as a "date destination". But have sex products really become so mainstream that we'll be able to walk into our local Boots and pick them up with our toothpaste? Spokesman Donald McCabe points out that as yet the discussions on the stocking of the Durex Play range are still in their "early stages" though the store does already sell the Vielle stimulator. "These things [sex toys]," he says, "are much more prevalent on the high street than they used to be and they're much more part of modern life. Our history is of being a modern retailer adapting to social change. So why would we not look at it?" (SUNDAY HERALD, UK)

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