Being nice doesn’t mean you can’t be naughty.
But, when it comes to talking sex and shopping sex, Winnipeggers can be a little impot... erm, bashful.
"Sex is still a little bit taboo. A lot of Winnipeggers are still very shy," says Linda Proulx, founder of the Love Nest, which celebrated 25 years in January.
"We get many people that are first-time shoppers who are uncomfortable."
Sex shops aren’t all leather, chains, toys and masks. For the uninitiated, a soft and sensuous approach to business can help create a gift package guaranteed to have the lingerie dropping to the floor this Valentine’s Day, Proulx says.
"We have awesome staff working for us, well-trained and personal," she says.
"We try to combat it that way, make people feel very welcome."
Proulx and her staff encourage sex shop virgins to consider a variety of bubble baths, massage oils and books as a bit of foreplay before a full-blown foray into the unexplored wild of human sexuality.
"If they want to buy a toy, we always encourage something smaller, and that has less negativity when it’s given as a gift," says Proulx, noting that small Pocket Rocket and finger vibrators tend to be No. 1 sellers because of this.
"If you and your partner have never had a vibrator, and a partner gives you one as a gift for Valentine’s Day, you’re going to be receptive to it if it’s small and not so in-your-face."
Though December is the busiest month of the year for Proulx, the 10 days leading up to Valentine’s Day are the busiest of the year.
"Usually people start shopping this week," she says, adding she’s seen her customer base shift from men and couples to women, often shopping by themselves.
The Love Nest has a full range of products, including lingerie in "every colour of the rainbow," says Proulx.
The Love Nest has locations at 3737B Portage Ave. in St. James-Assiniboia, 172 St Anne’s Rd. in south Winnipeg, and 1341 Main St. in north Winnipeg.
For more, visit www.lovenestonline.com.
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Meanwhile, the owners of the Adam and Eve adult erotica shop at 1574 St. James St. are gearing up for the store’s first Valentine’s Day in business.
"For us, it’s second Christmas," said co-owner Rafael Palao last week.
Adam and Eve opened in May 2012 and Palao is planning a weekend sale from Feb. 8 to 10. Customers making a purchase will be able to select from a number of chocolates, which, when uncovered, offer discounts of up to 20%, he said.
Palao agreed some Winnipeggers still have their reservations about sex shops.
"I was quite surprised about that," he said.
"While we were opening the store, I heard a little bit of everything, even from friends and family asking us if we thought Winnipeg was ready for a store like this.
"My answer was yes."
Still, Palao said most of his customers are open-minded and come in knowing what they are looking.
"(Valentine’s Day) is about love, and it’s about couples wanting to have fun whichever way they want to do it," he said.
"People just want to come in and know they’re going to have a great date and great evening."
For more, visit www.adamevewinnipeg.com.