I work in a store that sells pornography and sex toys.
To answer your first question, yes, these stores still exist.
Sometimes people get uncomfortable when I tell them what I do. To alleviate the tension, I’ve just started to call my place of work “Ye Olde Smut Shoppe.” I find making it sound whimsical puts people at ease, making us both feel a little less sticky and gross.
My store’s in a relatively bad neighbourhood. I know, it’s Winnipeg - everywhere is a relatively bad neighborhood. But this one is particularly sketchy.
As a result, the clientele of Ye Olde Smut Shoppe is reflective of that.
There are hip adult shops in this city, but my store isn’t one of them. It’s a bit of a dive. Lots of trench coats and secrets, if you catch my drift.
You may have driven by my store or seen one of the many other stores out there like it.
It’s likely you’ve never been inside one. I don’t blame you.
To give you an idea of what I deal with every day and of what I try to forget every night, here are a few of my favourite Smut Shoppe moments.
The names (even mine) have been omitted to protect the innocent and the perverted.
1. The Twilight Zone
A customer walks in, looks up and down the aisles for a few minutes and then comes over to the front counter.
“Excuse me, do you sell Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1?” he asks.
I thought he was kidding.
He left the store very confused, clearly wondering why a store that had so many movies would not stock one of the highest grossing releases of the past year.
I shrugged my shoulders and went back to doing what I was when he came in, which was putting price labels on a box full of gigantic dildos.
2. Anals of Disappointment
A man was browsing the new releases. Picking up one at a time, he would look at the back of the cases and then look visibly disappointed before putting each one of them back.
After about 10 minutes, I asked him if he needed help finding anything.
He sighed and with genuine frustration in his voice asked, “Is there anything here that isn’t anal?”
I’m not sure if you’ve heard the news, but anal sex, or “butt stuff” as it’s known in the biz, is all the rage in porn these days.
He explained that it really wasn’t his thing and that it’s very difficult to find movies that didn’t feature it.
He raised a good point. I admired his frankness.
3. Laser Gaze
It once took me five minutes to decipher what a man with a rather thick accent was trying to say when he kept asking for “laser beam movies.”
Only until he made the international hand gesture for the act of lovemaking known as “scissoring” did I realize he meant to say, “lesbian movies.”
Turns out I was hearing him wrong the whole time - a shame, because I was going to ask him to be my new best friend, just to learn more about his amazing life.
4. Tires and Toys
I once had to give a man directions to the closest Canadian Tire so he could buy a bike tire repair kit to patch up a hole in his blow-up doll.
I never asked where the hole was and he never told me. I’ll always thank him for that.
“ I once had to give a man directions to the closest Canadian Tire so he could buy a bike tire repair kit to patch up a hole in his blow-up doll.
There are more stories. Many more, in fact.
Those are just the only ones appropriate to print.
Ye Olde Smut Shoppe isn’t about being trendy or progressive. It really is a throwback to a bygone era, catering to people whose sexual identities aren’t necessarily things they wear on their sleeves.
While these stories are pretty lighthearted, there’s a lot of shame going in and out the front door here.
It’s a place where sex is still considered dirty and it’s very seldom that customers will engage me in conversation or even make cursory eye contact with me.
I often wonder if I’m the only person who knows about some of my customers’ sexual proclivities.
I feel no reservation in talking about the weird stories that surround my job (I mean, come on, bike tire repair kit guy? Like I’m not going to tell everyone about that), but the names and intimate details about them I always keep close to the vest.
I’m an unwelcome accomplice to their perversions.
They know that, too.
I’m sure if Ye Olde Smut Shoppe installed one of those robotic Safeway checkout machines and laid me off, our customers would embrace it wholeheartedly. I wouldn’t begrudge them for it one moment either.
In a society that discusses sex as openly and frankly as we do and in an age where technology and Internet pornography has progressed to the point it has, people often wonder why places like Ye Olde Smut Shoppe even exist.
The majority of my customers are middle-aged men who either a) Don’t have the Internet or are too old and stubborn to figure it out, or b) Have wives or girlfriends that check their browser history.
As long as some people still think sex is taboo, Ye Olde Smut Shoppe will be open for business.
That, and the fact you can’t download sex toys illegally off the Internet. Not yet anyway.
This job has shown me that sex will always be a private affair for some people. Be it generational or just the innate desire to feel “bad” about what you like in a good way, some of us just like it a little nastier than normal.
As long as you’re safe, not hurting anyone and don’t perceive what you’re into as a negative quality about yourself, I say it’s all good.
Sometimes the old-fashioned ways stand the test of time and stores like Ye Olde Smut Shoppe will be around to keep those freaky fires burning as long as we have to.
Y’all cum back now, ya hear?
”Danylo Donovan” is in his mid-20s. He’s been working at Ye Olde Smut Shoppe for almost a year. He started working there because, well, he needed money. Also, he thought it would be amusing to be able to put “Smut Peddler” on his resume.