She Bop – Portland’s Sex Positive Wonderland
The following is a completely true story: On July 1, 2012 my brother and sister-in-law loaded my two favorite cats into carriers and embarked on a two- week cross-country drive to their new home of Portland, Oregon. When they arrived my brother sent me a text that said “We made it! We’re in our new home, Hello Portland!” It was 2 am in Boston when this text came
through and I woke up, read it and responded thusly “There’s a great sex shop there: She Bop 909 N. Beech St. Tell S-I-L¹!” then I went back to sleep and as I was drifting off thought to pick up my phone and say “Glad you got there safe”
Founded in 2009 by Evy Cowan and Jeneen Doumitt, She Bop offers quality body-safe toys (I’ve never seen so much VixSkin in one place!!), an impressive selection of books, female and queer-friendly DVDs as well as several handmade and locally sourced products. Providing Portland with sexual education in a beautiful( We’ve discussed how I feel strongly about aesthetics), fun, safe, comfortable and sex-positive environment, She Bop is committed to quality products, sustainability, supporting local business, community outreach and education that is truly inclusive. They offer after hours parties, instructional DVD rental and an ongoing series of workshops-It is the first place I found with a burlesque class! As She Bop has been featured on my Superhero Sex Shops page since I launched the site (back when the page was called “Continuing Sex Ed” featured, I think, 5 shops), it might be safe to say I have something of a transcontinental crush on this place so, suffice it to say, I was excited to pop in for a visit during my recent trip to Portland. I was even more excited to score some time² to get some pictures to share with you and to have a little Q & A with Evy!
What makes She Bop unique?
At She Bop we specialize in body safe products and education. We try to create a very comfortable and fun environment for everyone who comes into the shop regardless of gender or sexual appetites. We want customers to have the same kind of shopping experience they would have in any other specialty shop or boutique – it shouldn’t feel weird or uncomfortable just because they are shopping for sex toys.
Entering a sex shop for the first time can be daunting. Any advice to first time shoppers?
Don’t be scared to pick things up and turn things on (that’s if the shop provides floor models like we do). It’s really important to be able to feel what levels and types of vibrations different toys produce. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – that’s what we’re there for. At She Bop, we love to answer questions and discuss the different types of toys. Many of the toys are not very self explanatory and can be tricky to operate if you’re not familiar with them. We really want our customers to be able to make informed decisions when purchasing our products.
Any favorite moments/great stories?
There are too many to pick just one. I really love when people come in who have never had a toy before or have never experienced the joy that is good lube! I just feel like we have so much potential to change the way people experience and explore their sexuality. I’ve had people tell me that a toy “changed their life” or that since they have started shopping with us that their relationship with their partner has improved. I really believe that what we do everyday helps to empower people around their bodies and sexuality.
Trapped on a desert island, what 5 sex toys/products available from She Bop do you want with you?
note: I’ve linked Evy’s responses directly to the She Bop store- go check them out!
If I’m alone and have the option for power on this hypothetical desert island then these:
Pure Wand – Evy seemed to feel very strongly about this one so it gets bolded.
Fairy Mini Wand
Happy Valley Triton
If i don’t have power but do have an endless supply of batteries, then i would take:
Vibratex Mystic Wand instead of the Fairy Mini
However, if you asked each of our staff this same question, i’m sure they would all have different answers (except for the Pure Wand – i think we all agree on that!)
What is the biggest selling item at She Bop?
We actually have such an array of quality products that there really isn’t one item that we sell the most of. We really encourage customers to not buy something just because they’ve heard it’s a best seller or their friend loves it, because everyone is so different. We try to help people pick out the toy that is best suited for them and their body and individual preferences.
You do some really fun stuff here! Any cool upcoming projects?
Definitely! January and February are packed full of some really fun classes. I’m especially excited about the DIY Porn class with Madison Young. We sponsor HUMP! (Portland and Seattle’s annual amateur porn film festival) every year so this will give people a head start on their amateur porn making for next years film festival. Also, Charlie Glickman and Aislinn Emirzian will be here in February for a Prostate class and to promote their new book called The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure.
Just for fun, what’s on the She Bop soundtrack?
It’s a mix of so much stuff but just off the top of my head:
The Handsome Furs
So, that’s the story folks. Should you find yourself in Portland, swing by She Bop and check it out for yourself. Thank you to Evy and the She Bop staff for answering my questions and allowing me to come in early one morning to snap pictures (in order to respect customer privacy, She Bop does not allow photography in the store. They were kind enough to allow me to come in before the shop opened.) You guys are awesome!
Funny story, I had intended this piece to be the first in a series of profiles of sex positive shops that I would visit as I traveled the country trying to figure out where I wanted to live… but the trip to Portland decided that part. There will be a series coming though, keep your eyes peeled…maybe on my way to my new home? In the meantime, while I was at She Bop, Evy mentioned a group I knew by name but didn’t know a whole lot about- the Progressive Pleasure Club. The Progressive Pleasure Club is a network of independent shops that are (in their own words) “committed to the promotion of accurate and honest pleasure-based sexuality education, and to offering products that meet the highest standards of safety” Pretty awesome stuff. Check them out for a great list of independent shops.
¹I’m not actually one of those people who refers to my family members by cutesy abbreviations, I just suspected my brother would appreciate me not using his wife’s real name. I kind of suspect my sister-in-law wouldn’t care.