Adult Store, Lingerie
“We want to push the envelope, but we don’t want to give you a papercut doing it,” says Camouflage co-owner Shannon Collins, putting the store, as a whole, in a nutshell. The iconic downtown sex shop, which turns 30 this year, is edgy but not over the top, sexy but never crude, and inviting but not forceful. Started as a small T-shirt shop by Joan Levine in 1980, the store has evolved into the area’s most complete adult store—selling “a little bit for everyone” as Collins says, from lingerie and panties to lubes and sex toys, to their biggest seller, vibrators. “Camouflage sells hundreds and hundreds of vibrators,” says Levine, who sold the store to Collins and her husband, Ken Vinson, in 2006. “Who is buying them? Doesn’t everyone in Santa Cruz already have a vibrator?” But there are always newer, better and different options to try, and their best-selling items are “far and away” the premiere, top-of-the-line vibrators (popularized after the infamous Sex and the City episode in which Vibratex’s Rabbit Pearl guest stars). But in addition to a wide selection of products, Camouflage offers notable customer service—something that is especially important when dealing with a sensitive, and potentially uncomfortable, subject. Collins and Vinson are Certified Sex Educators with more than 60 hours of training each in everything from human anatomy to kink, and each employee undergoes two weeks of training before starting. Whether a customer is shy or a sex toy rookie, the staff is eager to answer questions and share their extensive knowledge of the products. And while most shoppers are picking up a fun gift or item for themselves, there is the occasional customer with a serious question. “Just yesterday we were able to help a guy out who was having trouble with his wife,” says Vinson. “We aren’t therapists but one of the things the staff gets a lot of reward out of is when someone comes in with an issue and their expertise can help them solve it.” The shop is proudly “sex positive,” and welcoming to all walks of life—something that has made them a local favorite and a true community institution.
Visit Camoflage online. QUICK BIT: Since 2001, Camouflage has sold more than 60,000 vibrators. That’s 2.5 vibrators for every woman living in the City of Santa Cruz! | Elizabeth Limbach
Runners-up (Adult Store) Pure Pleasure, Frenchy’s (Lingerie) Victoria’s Secret, Amoureuse, Perrfect Girl
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