The History of Adult Stores: Part III (2001-Today)


Coco de Mer was founded in 2001 by Sam Roddick. Coco de Mer is known for its handmade artisan items and one of a kind lingerie. In 2011, the company was sold to LoveHoney.


Lovehoney, the largest sex toy retailer in the United Kingdom, was founded by Richard Longhurst. Lifetime UK has recently created a six-part series that takes you behind the scenes of the successful company.


Wholly Love, Great Britain’s first Christian adult store opens. Products included sex toys but nothing “too offensive.”


Khadija Fashion House Opens in 2008 and it is believed to be Bahrain’s first adult store  in the region. The owner recently announced that she would be opening a second location.

Book22 opens for business. It was the first online Christian sex toy website and did not sell sex toys that were considered unholy.


Almost a decade before Pleasures Romance Boutique opened in 2010, owner Sherri Williams was challenging a state law of Alabama that prohibited the sale of sex toys. Fortunately, she found a loophole in the law that allowed the sale of sex toys if they are needed for unspecified “medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial, or law enforcement.” Although the Supreme Court refused to hear her case in 2007, which upheld the sex toy ban, she successfully opened the country’s first-drive thru adult store.

El Asria, the first Muslim online adult store opens for business. The store sells “products that meet the rules of Sharia law.”


More religious sex toy sites emerge. Kosher Sex Toys, an online adult store opens. The company sells sex toys but explains there is not really anything that makes a sex toy kosher or non-kosher.


The first adult store opens in Nepal. Sweet Secret sells dildos, vibrators, and blow up dolls. Co-owner, Prabin Dhakal tries to promote sex education by inviting a doctor to the shop once a week to speak with customers if they have questions about a product.

The first overground adult store opens in Casablanca, Morocco by Imad El Idrissa. He was sentenced to 8 months in prison and fined approximately $1,000.00 for operating the store, thereby violating the law. Adult stores in Morocco are underground because of the conservative government. However, the first adult store in Morocco that sells products publicly is reported to be located in Jamila.


The first online adult store in Turkey opens. The owner, Haluk Denirel, explains, “his business as the first online sex shop in the Muslim world to operate in line with Islamic teaching.”

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The History of Adult Stores: Part II (1982-1993)


The first adult store opened in Belfast, Northern Ireland and after only six weeks of being open to the public admist daily protestors, police raided the store. Later on, the 1973 Miss Ireland, Yvonne Costello opened Kinks in Dublin in the 1980s, which carried lingerie and sex toys. Because a former Miss Ireland was the owner, the media was fascinated. Throughout the 1990s, more adult stores opened but they faced censorship laws.


Patty Brisben began to sell sex toys as an in-home direct sales consultant. The business was so successful that it transformed into Pure Romance in 1993. Today, the multi-level business employs more than 100,000 consultants .


The first adult store in Bulgaria opens. Delcont, located in Sofia, was owned by Alexei Varbanov. Blow-up dolls were $75 each (Chicago Tribune 1991).


Russia’s first adult store, Intimacy Store-Salon, opens in Moscow. The store sold blow-up dolls, glow-in-the-dark condoms, and other erotic-novelty items. Discussing sex was slow, as was progress towards sex education.

Gerda Keresztesi opens South Africa’s first adult store. The store was raided five times because of government censorship.


The first adult store in China opens in Beijing. Adam & Eve Health Center sold contraceptives, pregnancy tests, and sex toys.

Babeland opens “in response to the lack of women-friendly sex shops in Seattle.” Today, Babeland has stores in Seattle and New York. Each store carries top quality products and offers workshops and private parties.


Chicago Tribune. 1991. “Another Western way in Bulgaria: 1st sex shop.”

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The History of Adult Stores: Part I (1962-1977)

Although sex toys have been around for centuries, adult stores have not. Today we see adult bookstores and video stores that sell sex toys, and boutiques that focus mainly on sex toys and lingerie. Moreover, many stores sell products online. And let’s not forget at-home parties. Adult stores, like sex toys, have expanded and have become more accepted not just in the United States, but also in other countries.

I believe adult stores began to appear in the United States due to the sexual revolution and due to various laws being passed. I also believe democratization has caused more adult stores to appear in European countries. In the past few years, at-home parties have become popular, as well as religious adult stores.


What began as a mail order business for sex education for women in 1948, Beate Uhse opened the world’s first adult store in Flensburg, West Germany in 1962. It was called the Institute of Marital Hygiene. Products included lingerie and “stimulatory products”, among other items. By 1971, there were 25 stores in Germany. The purpose of the company was contraception, and when education and pornography laws let up, the sex industry in Germany took advantage. The website launched in 2006, allowing customers to purchase online. In 2009, the company expanded to at-home parties and home delivery. There are now over 200 stores.


Kim Caborn-Waterfield founded Ann Summers. The store is named after his female secretary, Annice Summers. The first store opened in Marble Arch, London quickly expanded. Shortly after, David Gold, chairman of Gold Group International Inc., purchased the company and there are now 153 stores. It was his daughter, Jacqueline Gold, who developed Ann Summers’s at-home parties.

Israel’s first adult store was closed down on November 22, 1970. A court order temporarily shut down the store after protests from Orthodox Jews. I’m guessing this is around the time the store opened. I cannot find any other information. Another store opened in 1971, but products had to be ordered through a catalogue.


The first adult store opens in Canada. The Garden, owned by Ivor Sargent opened a store for ordinary people, selling adult games, lotions, gels, and magazines.

The Pleasure Chest  opens in New York and was the first adult store to create a “boutique” environment in the United States, much like we see today. The store opened two other stores in Los Angeles (1975) and Chicago (1977).


Phil Harvey and Dr. Timothy Black founded Adam & Eve, which began is the nation’s first mail-order contraceptive business. In the mid-1980s, the Reagan administration began to crack down on the adult industry. Federal Agents raided the store in 1986, interrogating employees. In Harvey’s trial, he was found not-guilty within 5 minutes. After ongoing legal battles, Adam & Eve expanded to almost 50 retail locations.


Masi Angela and her husband Erocle Sabbatini open Italy’s first adult store called Sex Shop Citta’ di Milano. The couple and their store closed many times by police due to resistance from a conservative public.

France’s first adult store opens in Belfort.

Jerusalem’s first and only adult store closes. Shlomo Sandwek, the owner, believed it closed due to demonstrations and petitions from those who lived in the neighborhood.


Joani Blank opened the first Good Vibrations store in San Francisco due to the need for sex information and sex toys. She sold the business to employees, who then opened 5 other locations. The store thrives on sex education, sex-positive events, and an antique vibrator museum.


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