The super clean-cut shop: Babeland
Lower East Side & SoHo
For a look at how far the hole-in-the-wall sex shops of yore have progressed, gaze no further than the pristinely kept, dazzlingly lit floors of Babeland. This Seattle-based chain has four locations in New York, a strong online and social media presence, and shelves that carry everything from cock rings, to couples’ toys, to vibrating butt plugs. The super organized look is a refreshing divergence from the floor-to-ceiling crowded aesthetic of most shops, and enforces their no-shame, shop-in-the-open, sex positive mission.
This Chelsea shop runs on zero advertising and has been operating since the early ‘90s, so you better believe its S&M sex toy game is strong. “We try to not carry a lot of junk or novelties, and make sure that all of our products are well-researched and well made.” Sales associates are learned and trained on the inventory and don’t work on commission, so you won’t find hustlin’ neck-breathers here. Also notable is this shop’s commitment to supporting local businesses. “Most of our leather products are made in New York, and we try and buy locally in general, who only make enough stock for one store,” said Hilton, the manager. “The quality is better, more unique, and you’re supporting local craftspeople versus people overseas who don’t give a shit.” And if you’re interested in knowing as much about fetish, rope ties, or BDSM as Purple Passion’s employees, you can get that here too, via workshops held at the store.