There was no sex and book store in St. John’s. So they started one

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Robin Follett and Pepper teamed up to open a new independent store Prude in Downtown St. Johns. (Submitted by Kelsey Stasiac)

While many Canadian cities have at least one well-known book and sex shop – spaces often seen as community centers and important sources of radical literature – Saint John lacks one.

So far.

Prude, a bookstore and sexual wellness shop owned by artists and gay people, opened its doors in downtown St. Johns during the winter. It runs from a small space on Clift’s-Baird’s Cove, one of the smaller streets that connects Water Street with Harbor Drive.

Robin Follett, co-owner, who opens the store with a photographer named, said, “Our customer is likely someone who hasn’t always felt comfortable in traditional sex shops. Maybe the industry in general hasn’t felt fun or welcome.” Pepper.

“We want to make space for them.”

Brod takes a holistic approach to sexuality. Follett and Pepper believe that a wide range of factors such as having a comfortable home space, staying active, staying intellectually stimulated and staying in your community can positively influence your sexual experiences.

The selection of items for sale in the comfortable store reflects their holistic approach to sexual health, along with an event program designed to bring people together.

Prude opened this winter on Clift’s-Baird’s Cove, just off Water Street in downtown St. Johns. (John Joshua / CBC)

The name Prude is a shy joke and a serious invitation for people who might not think of themselves as particularly open to go in and browse or participate in some of the store’s software.

Follett said, “We love all of the products we have and that’s part of it, but we really want it to be more than just a store.”

“We want to create a space and community, in a fun and interactive place where people can talk, explore and excite.”

Prude’s owners aim to provide a comfortable place where customers can shop and ask questions about their products. (Submitted by Kelsey Stasiac)

Prude carries a small but curated collection of high-quality sex toys produced by companies that manufacture and market their toys to be more inclusive of a range of genders and relationship types.

Follett says the pandemic has seen many people trying online dating and long-distance relationships, a trend the sexual wellness industry has been quick to respond to with new and innovative games designed to help facilitate these connections.

One example of this is We-Vibe, a series of games that can be played remotely in conjunction with a video chat application, available in Prude. The store will also carry items related to fertility and postpartum care, including affordable multi-pack pregnancy tests, ovulation tests and hot pads designed to relieve pain related to postpartum recovery.

Follett and Pepper felt the importance of having a brick and mortar store so people could come and see these intimate products in person. They wanted customers to be able to hold and recognize items in their hands.

Prude offers a selection of games, products, and literature ranging from contemporary erotica to non-fiction work on the rights of sex workers. (Submitted by Kelsey Stasiac)

They have chosen their location on Clift’s-Baird’s Cove in part because of having a small studio in the back where they can work on their own art practice. Follett studied fashion at Ryerson University and George Brown College. During her studies, she explored the use of leather and latex to make the work influenced by BDSM, comic, and drag cultures. Follett is interested in the intersections between sex and fashion and hopes to use Prude as a place to continue exploring the complex relationship between these two intimate styles of self-expression.

Prude customers will have the opportunity to get handcrafted, handcrafted Follett leather choke and belts in store. Pepper is a photographer and will use the space to document Follett’s creations.

Prude will also present a selection of literature ranging from contemporary erotica to nonfiction literature on the rights of sex workers, as well as progressive children’s books and literary fiction touching on questions about sexuality and sexuality. Owners will order books if customers order them as well, making the store a valuable resource at a time when there are few independent bookstores in the city.

Follett and Pepper also plan to program a number of events through the store, including workshops, panel discussions and – later – dance parties (all of which adhere to safety precautions for COVID-19). Follett will facilitate the initial workshop and consider making a tassel out of antique rabbit furs for the first session. The owners are open to sexual health-related topics in the workshops and panel discussions, and they said they love to hear from the community about the skills they want to learn and the ideas they want to hear being discussed.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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