Jack Wardlaw, Lifestyle Editor and Vanessa Tracey, Deputy Editor take themselves down to pleasure town (otherwise known as Sidwell Street) and go exploring in Simply Pleasure….
You’ve all walked past it, you’ve giggled at the name, you’ve joked about going in there but never dared to go all the way. Well just for you, two intrepid Exeposé Editors bit the bullet (so to speak) and gave into Simply Pleasure on Sidwell Street to see what really goes on behind closed doors...
When we first stepped in, it was hard not to giggle at the lingerie and vast array of sex toys assembled before us, but the initial embarrassment was soon overcome when we were greeted by a friendly staff member who kindly agreed to be interviewed.
Unsure of whether we could pass as normal customers, we first asked what sort of clientele usually visits. Apparently, there are no average customers as they get visitors of all ages and all sexualities. People come in couples or singles, they can be younger or older but there doesn’t seem to be a certain type or preference as to what they buy. She said “you get such a variety of people in, all looking for something completely different. Some people just want to see what we sell because they’ve never been in here before. There doesn’t seem to be a difference in what younger and older people buy. Everyone’s up for trying different things.”
As we perused the shelves, there were a baffling array of options. What colour to go for? What shape? Where do you even put that? It’s fair to say we understood why people wanted to come in and talk to a professional. We were pointed to some of the newest items in store. As well as a 50 Shades of Grey line, what particularly stood out were chocolate and strawberry body quills which, we were assured, had “really nice tastes.” The diamanté nipple stickers were also a favourite.
The initial discomfort we felt upon entering had, by now, completely dissipated but we were curious to see whether many other customers get the giggles when they enter. “To me, every customer is the same and it’s just about making people feel comfortable. I mean some people just like to be left alone rather than being asked questions, so you just have to get that rapport. We have our regulars that come in, but also new people who can be a bit shy and are fascinated by what we sell.”
Some of the dildos looked a bit pricey so we asked what the most expensive items were on offer. The Lelo luxury range of toys had a whopping ten year guarantee so when you think about cost per use, you actually do get your money’s worth. She continued, “we also have the dolls which are quite expensive and range from £100 upwards depending on the quality.”
Imagining that people wouldn’t exactly want to carry a blow up doll back to Lafrowda, we asked whether internet shopping was a better alternative, or whether there was still a place for sex shops on the high street. She told us that “some people don’t like to shop online as it’s easier to see a product when you’re not sure what you’re buying. When I go clothes shopping, I don’t buy online as I like to try stuff on in the store. Here, you can touch it, see what the speeds are and if you’re in doubt, you can talk to someone about it. I think that there’s still a big market for us.” This is aided by the fact that Simply Pleasure “isn’t right in the city centre and obviously we try to be as discreet as we can for the customer. Our packaging is in plain black bags and when paying things by card, it won’t come up with ‘Simply Pleasure’ on their bank statements.” On the topic of the internet, the shelves of pornographic DVDs upstairs prompted us to ask whether internet porn has had an impact on their business. It seems that what keeps their DVDs sales pointing upwards is the alternative genres that are on offer, such as couple friendly DVDs and videos directed by women which apparently, are “very artistic.” The ball gags, whips and chains were drawing our attention throughout the interview so we felt obliged to delve a bit deeper and ask about the kinkier aspects of the store. Firstly, we asked what fetishes they catered for. Some of the most popular seemed to be a bit of light spanking, collars, dressing up and rubber. “We do electric shock therapy but we don’t do anything extreme. We have metal stuff like cock rings but there are so many different fetishes, it’s hard to say! Ropes are selling well right now, and swings – they seem to be the popular one at the moment.”
Because fetishes do seem to be a big business, Simply Pleasure are looking into hosting their own parties but more for the fetish community rather than the general public. She agreed that people have become more adventurous in the bedroom when it comes to S&M thanks to the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. “I think it’s got a lot bigger and people are more open minded to it after reading the books. They want to know more; we get a lot of people coming in to ask about light spanking and that kind of thing. Obviously we get the more ‘extremists,’ but I think it has opened a lot of minds.”
To round off our interview, we decided to get physical and test some products. After nearly getting shocked by what turned out to be an electric butt plug, and after the rotating head of a rabbit vibrator caused us to recoil in fear, we decided to play it safe and settled for tasting the array of lube flavours instead. As well as their obvious application, we were told that they could also be “added to alcoholic drinks” or “drizzled over ice cream” for added flavour. The watermelon flavour proved to be a hit but we were less impressed with the vanilla cream. All in all, visiting Simple Pleasure was just that, a pleasure. With multiple stores in the South West, don’t forget your NUS card for your ten per cent student discount!
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