In February of this year, the wonderful indie, LGBTQ+ lingerie retailer Bluestockings Boutique began offering payment plans on their website. This was massively exciting to me for two reasons: First is that the playsuit of my dreams was suddenly in my price range (score!). Second, and more important for this blog post, is that Bluestockings (for the time being, although they appear to be phasing them out) also sells Jimmyjane vibrators.
While I personally dislike Jimmyjane and most of their products, I am delighted! This is actually the first time I think I’ve ever seen luxury sex toys available for purchase in multiple installments rather than lump sums of money! As someone who regularly shouts from the rooftops about sex toy safety and budget-friendly safe toy options, I’m shocked that payment plans are a concept I’ve never thought about and have never even seen discussed.
The biggest problem with cheap sex toys is that they aren’t just lower quality — they’re often dangerous. At Lovehoney, one of the industry’s largest online retailers, only 49 of the 223 dildos currently available for under $50 are made from non-toxic, non-porous materials. The vast majority of their least expensive dildos are not toys I would ever recommend putting inside of your body, and it’s only after the $100 mark that you actually begin seeing majority body-safe dildos on their website. And this issue isn’t limited to Lovehoney (whom I do love, and whose incredible return policy makes them invaluable in other ways); it’s an industry-wide problem that can be observed at just about all major retailers. No matter where you go, the message is clear: Body-safe toys, by and large, are luxury products.
So what’s a broke babe to do? Particularly a broke babe who may need sex toys in order to physically orgasm, or a sex worker for whom toys may be an important part of their job? Less expensive body-safe options are becoming more prevalent, but you have to know where to look to find them, and that doesn’t really help the average consumer. Especially in an industry rife with sketchy knock-offs and counterfeits, where what you think you’re purchasing may not always be what you get (at least not if you’re shopping on Amazon or eBay).
It’s easy to become frustrated with the prices retailers charge for toys, but it’s often not something the shops have much control over. They’re subject to MAP (minimum advertised pricing) set by the manufacturers and, especially in the competitive world of online retail, often sell things with little-to-no markup. In a lot of cases, there’s not much they can do about the prohibitively expensive prices of many of their body-safe options.
However, I think offering payment plans is a great step many retailers can take towards making safe, quality toys more financially accessible. So kudos to you Bluestockings Boutique — I truly hope sex toy shops take notice and follow your lead.
(This post is not sponsored by Bluestockings Boutique, and I’m not affiliated with them at all. I just think they’re doing really awesome work.💜 )