06 December 2018

London Adult shops - Amex Shop Small offer

For the last few years American Express has been running a scheme in the first half of December to encourage customers to use their cards in smaller shops.  What they offer is a five quid statement credit when you spend 10 pounds or more - what is a damn fine offer!  This year it runs until Sunday 16th December

Last year i used the offer as a spur to do a tour of some of London’s sex shops - quite a few of which are included !  I meant to write up my findings - but failed.  This year I’ve revisited my findings, and have actually managed to put pen to paper ...

First it’s worth saying that even though I live in one of the most gay friendly cities on the planet, my heart still raced as i entered a sex shop for the first time in ages. You’d think that I would have lost the fear by now, but maybe entering a sex shop brings back memories of buying porn mags during my closeted years !

Anyway, onto the adult shops … if you’re only going to visit one sex shop in London, i would recommend heading over to Angel tube station, and going to a place called Regulation.  Firstly it’s very discreet - down a side street, and without big windows for people to look in and see you trying to select the right dildo for you. They operate a buzzer entry system, presumably to keep out the hen parties. Or if somebody happens to be coming out they will hold the door for you. Secondly the staff have been very friendly the couple of times that i’ve been there. In some other shops staff can get be a bit full of themselves, but not here.  And thirdly the shop has more space than others, and so it feels more relaxed and less hemmed in.  There’s a decent range of gear, but maybe not quite as much as in some others - it’s still my top choice though.

However they are moving to a new place in Soho, which opens on 21st December, and the Islington branch will apparently close a few days beforehand so they can move their stock across.  So don’t delay, and get yourself over to Angel.

My second choice is Clone Zone in Earls Court.  It’s more discreet than other shops, as they don’t have windows for everybody to see you.  The staff are also fairly friendly - although i wonder how many customers actually respond when asked if they need help (with their dildo selection). This shop is more tightly packed than Regulation, but it means they hold a good selection for a fairly small place.  There’s also a basement that you should go and have a look at !

My third recommendation is Soho Original Books on Brewer St.  It does have big windows, so people can see you inside, but there’s a certain "plausible deniability” about being in a shop with “Books” in the name!  This place is a mix of male and female sex objects, but probably more towards the gay side. The basement is mostly dvds and magazines and some other stuff.  The place has a slightly seedy feel - but in a reassuring sort of a way!

Also in Soho is Clone Zone on Old Compton St. It’s not very discreet, with big windows, so don’t go there first if you’re nervous. It’s a bit tightly packed so isn’t one of my favourites.  It also had a basement section which is definitely worth a visit.

If you’re checking out the shops in the Amex promotion, and come across one called Closet Case on Brewer St, don’t get excited.  It turns out to be a posh clothes shop!

There’s also a could of gay sex shops in Soho which are not part of the Amex Shop Small offer, as far as I can see - notably one starting with P, and it’s sister shop P Red.

Over by Old Street tube there’s a shop called Gear at 75 Great Eastern St.  Last year when i visited the premises it was called Expectations - but it’s now owned by a german company and been rebranded.  The whole shop is in the basement - but it’s quite open and visible from the street - so again don’t go here first if you’re getting used to whole gay sex shop lark. A lot of the store is given over to clothing, but they have a decent amount of sex objects, including some more extreme items. However quite a lot of their objects are kept in glass cabinets, which may keep out shoplifters, but isn’t really helpful for potential buyers. They also have a urinal on full display. And maybe taking a leaf out of the current fad for bike shops to have a cafe, they also have a proper coffee machine - although i wasn’t offered one during my relatively short visit! The shop is located in an area with lots of offices, and it felt slightly odd visiting it at 5pm - but i’m sure at other times it would be fine!

One shop that it included in Amex Shop Small is Fetch in Clapham High St - but sadly I haven’t yet managed to check it out.  I’ll update this post if I manage to do so before Amex Shop Small finishes.

Another place that’s included in Amex SS is Gay’s the Word on Marchmond Street, north of Russell Sq tube station.  It’s a fairly small, and a little squashed book shop aimed at gay people.

One place that I visited last year was Harmony, who have branches on both Oxford St and Charing Cross Road. I found the shop pretty grim - it seemed to be aimed at the hen party, jokey side of the customer base.

Hopefully something here will be useful.  Let me know if there are any others that I should go and take a look at.

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