How She Bop Changed the Sex Shop Game

You know we had to call it an “oral history.” Hey, it is one!

By Kiva Hanson October 23, 2019 Published in the November 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

From left to right, available at She Bop: Switch Leather Co Cuffs & Collarm, Hathor Sutil Body Glide, The Dame Kip, Magic Wand, Magic Wand, and book titles Tongue Tied: Untangling Communication in Sex, Kink, and Relationships. (See story below for details.)

A friendly neighborhood sex shop? After 10 years and cheerful locations in two of the city’s most thriving indie-retail clusters, She Bop is just that. (She Bop operates shops at 909 N Beech St and 3213 SE Division St.) How did shops slinging vibrators and offering classes on poly dating and improved oral technique become beloved? Founders Evy Cowan and Jeneen Doumitt tell the tale.

Evy, on origins: “When I was in grad school for women’s studies, I started to learn more about female-friendly and female focused sex shops…. Cyndi Lauper was my first concert when I was in fifth grade, but I had no idea what that song was about, because I was a kid. When I found out [because a professor referenced the song in class], I was like, that is a great name for a sex shop.” (Pop culture note: Lauper’s 1984 hit “She Bop” is definitely about masturbation.)

Jeneen, on challenges: “Finding a landlord that would take us on, a bank that would allow us to bank with them. There’s a lot of discrimination.”

Evy, on growth potential: “The adult industry is largely unregulated. They can say body-safe. They can say phthalate-free. It doesn’t necessarily mean it is. When we first opened, we basically carried everything that fit our standards. But now we can actually pick and choose. The whole movement is finally catching on.”

Jeneen, on innovation: “The industry has been more novelty-focused. Our intention was to sell products that are made to be used.

Evy, on customer satisfaction: “Big for me are the people who come in who’ve never had an orgasm and get their first vibrator. They call or email us and say how grateful they are for the help. We also do after-hours binder fittings for young trans folks—those are always an amazing experience. We’ve had people in their seventies buy their first strap-on. It’s never too late to experiment and try new things.”

5 She Bop Faves

Switch Leather Co Cuffs & Collar From Portland’s own Switch Leather Co, these locally made accessories will only improve with age. Camryn collar $36, set of two cuffs $60

Hathor Sutil Body Glide Water-based, in two formulas: “luxe,” the original, and “rich,” a thicker version. With eco-certified ingredients and a biodegradable tube, this lube is good for you, and the planet. Luxe $25, rich $27

The Dame Kip Designed for pinpoint accuracy, with an ergonomic handle and 25 setting combos. Don’t let the petite size of this “lipstick vibrator” fool you—it’s got power. $85

Magic Wand The classic vibrator, now in a rechargeable cordless version, with four intensity levels and four pattern settings. $125

Tongue Tied: Untangling Communication in Sex, Kink, and Relationships Local author Stella Harris offers tips for discussing kink and preferences, plus games, a glossary, and personal examples. $17

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