Get into the groove
Anna Sharp and Jenn Huggins
Without the fluorescent lights, rows of pornography and gaudy lingerie, Sacramento’s newest sex-toy store is far from the adult-store image portrayed in movies. Anna Sharp opened Grind and Groove (located at 2226 K Street) about three months ago with her partner, Jenn Huggins. The two worked to create a female-friendly sex store, where women would feel safe and comfortable shopping for sex toys, restraints and harnesses. To do so, Sharp said they had to think about creating a true shopping experience like that of any other boutique. Instead of walking in and being confronted by graphic sex, they filled the first two levels of the store with art, jewelry and designer clothing made by Sacramentans. There is also a sitting area where customers can read books from the Grind and Groove library, and an urban dog corner with designer dog collars and homemade dog treats.
The third level downstairs displays the sex toys, all of which are removed from their packages and include information about how they are used. But being women friendly doesn’t mean excluding men from the equation. Grind and Groove has a “Toys for Boys” section, and couples are encouraged to shop together. Sharp said the idea is to make sex a positive experience for both men and women.
What made you decide to open a store like this?
We opened because of the lack of stores like this in the area. About two years ago we were in Seattle and we ran across Babeland, which is the most phenomenal store we’ve ever been in. When we walked in, it was like this epiphany. It was like, “Why can’t it be like this? Why isn’t it like this and why can’t it be like this?” It wasn’t dirty or sleazy. They had awesome music. They had cool colors, cool concepts. Everything was out of the package. Everything had signs telling you what it was so you didn’t have to feel like a freak for not knowing or for being curious.
We came back and I think we just started talking about it and saying, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had a store like that here?” Nobody else was doing it though. So we just did it. We started researching products. We started researching what these stores carried, what made them different, what their philosophy was, what their mission statements were and what their values were. Then we realized if we opened a store like that it would be very much in line with where our values are.
We saw the lack of sex-positive toy stores and wanted to create a place that says “It’s OK to be here” and “It’s not sleazy.” It’s welcoming and the staff is happy to see you and able to help. That’s what we think an adult store should be.
So how did it go from becoming a sex store to becoming an urban clothing retailer?
Initially, we just wanted to open the downstairs. But as we got further along we realized, because of legalities, there would have to be a lot more to it. So how do you fill a 2,000 square foot building if it can’t all be sex toys? Well, that’s what we went about doing. We began bringing in things that you can’t get anywhere else in Sacramento. We brought in local designers and artists and asked them to let us sell their stuff exclusively.
And I think it works well this way. If I had my choice between having just an adult store and having what we have, which is a mix of everything, I’d rather have a mix. It appeals to everyone and you don’t have to be 18 to walk through our front door. You only have to be 18 to go downstairs.
Do you think the variety of items you sell—clothes, dog treats, sex toys—will confuse people?
Maybe, but the thing is we have something for everybody and that’s part of the fun of it. Also, we have people come in here shopping for dog collars or dog toys and they’ll find something downstairs that they like, too. It happens all the time.
The urban dog section is an interesting addition. What inspired you to include dog accessories as part of your retail selection?
Well, we have our two dogs, Ziggy and Guido, who come to work with us every day. I’m sure you’ve seen them running around here. And we just really like having the dogs around. People seem to appreciate having a place where they can bring their dogs along. Sometimes it gets a bit rowdy on Sundays when people are out walking their dogs. They stop in to buy a dog treat and it can turn into a little bit of a dog park upstairs. It really is a lot of fun though, and it’s been really popular.