214  ConclCLusion
formation and vendor lists—which had been a hallmark of Blank’s entrepre-
neurial sisterhood, making it possible for other sex-positive ­ retailers to follow
so closely in Good Vibrations’ footsteps—was over, replaced instead by the
language of confidentiality clauses and noncompetition agreements (the latter
of which I signed when I began my fieldwork at Babeland). As one staff mem-
ber at Good Vibrations noted about the company’s shift to a more proprietary
relationship to information: “We decided that we need to protect the work that
we have put into developing those things.”5
These trends have only accelerated in recent years, making today’s sexual
marketplace virtually unrecognizable from the one that existed when Dell Wil-
liams and Blank founded their respective businesses in the 1970s. Now it’s pos-
sible for a customer to browse the sales floor at a boutique retailer such as
Good Vibrations and, without ever leaving the store, get on her smartphone
to see which online competitor is selling the same item for less and order it
right then and there.
So it’s no surprise that Ellen Barnard from A Woman’s Touch in Madison,
Wisconsin, says she also keeps information about her business close to the
vest. “I get inquiries all the time,” she told me. “Somebody somewhere says
they want to open a store like ours. I say, ‘Go for it. Make sure you have enough
money, good business sense, and a vision.’ And that’s pretty much all I’m will-
ing to give, because otherwise I’d be giving all my information away.”6
In retrospect, Deysach understands why companies weren’t exactly jump-
ing up and down at the prospect of helping a potential competitor build her
business, but at the time, the rejections stung. Today, she makes a point to pay
it forward when people approach her for information and advice. Whenever
a new feminist sex shop opens, she sends the owner a note to say, “I am here.
I’ve been doing this for years. I don’t know everything, but if you ever need
me, I want you to feel comfortable approaching me.”7 For her, it’s about cul-
tivating the kinds of relationships and sense of community that she wants to
see among her fellow feminist sex shop owners.
It turns out that other feminist store owners wanted to see that, too. In 2009
Molly Adler and Matie Fricker of Self Serve in Albuquerque founded the Pro-
gressive Pleasure Club (ppc), a network of like-­ m inded, independent brick-­
and-­mortar sex shops dedicated to providing accurate sexuality resources and
safe, quality products. The club arose from a desire to foster a community of
peers who understood the unique challenges of running a small, socially con-
scious sex shop. But Adler and Fricker also wanted to flip the script regarding
how feminist businesses approached information sharing and competition.
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