Grow or Die?  215
The duo wrote what Fricker described as a “collaboration manifesto” and cir-
culated it among other progressive sex shop owners. The response, according
to Fricker, was immediate and enthusiastic. Everyone, she said, “was looking
for this kind of space.”8
The ppc, which includes ten sex-­positive retailers from around the coun-
try, from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, currently exists primarily as a
private networking list for members to figure out how to run their businesses
in ways they can feel good about, while also providing a livelihood for them-
selves and their employees.
“Functioning within a capitalist system can be challenging,” Fricker ex-
plained, “so we spend a lot of time talking about how we can do this in an
ethical way.”
Undergirding all of this is what Fricker describes as a “belief in abundance,”
an approach, interestingly enough, that circles back to the open, community-­
oriented ideas about how to run a successful business popularized by Blank
during the first wave of feminist sex-­ t oy retailing decades earlier: there is no
need to fear competition; sharing resources means there is more for every-
body, not less for us; more businesses providing accurate information and
talking openly about sex will create a better, more sex-­positive world for every-
one. Abundance, in other words, breeds abundance.
Two businesses that are notably absent from the list of ppc members are
Good Vibrations and Babeland. Because they are larger, more established
companies that have been around for years, “their challenges are just so dif-
ferent than ours,” Fricker explained.9 Most ppc stores have fewer than ten em-
ployees and some have only two or three. Good Vibrations and Babeland, on
the other hand, are multimillion-­dollar operations with multiple retail loca-
tions that can buy in bulk and therefore offer customers deeper discounts and
early release products, making it harder for ppc members such as Self Serve,
Sugar, Smitten Kitten, Early to Bed, Feelmore, and others to compete on the
same level. While Good Vibrations and Babeland are certainly not behemoths
like Amazon, smaller feminist sex shops regard them as retailing giants none-
theless. “We have a good relationship with Babeland,” Fricker readily acknowl-
edged, “but they are just a different animal that’s not in our zoo.”10
Labor issues and workers’ rights have also emerged as concerns for femi-
nist sex store employees and owners. In a move that garnered national media
attention, workers at Babeland’s New York City stores voted to unionize in
May 2016, becoming part of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store
Union (rwdsSu). The action was heralded in the press as a win for sex shop
Previous Page Next Page