Viewed from the little parking lot off West 11th, As You Like It looks like any artsy boutique in town; a wall of windows covered with delicate black-lace curtains reveal warm wood floors and beams and display shelves sparkling with treasures. The space is a far cry from the windowless shops around Eugene, but make no mistake, this is a sex store, or rather an “eco-conscious, green, gender-inclusive sex toy shop.”
Owner Kim Marks had a soft opening for As You Like It Friday, Dec. 12, and will host a grand opening Jan. 17 and Jan. 18. “It’s a different vibe,” Marks says. “This store focuses more on sexual health and education as part of service.”
The last time EW caught up with Marks, As You Like It was only online, and Marks was hosting sex-positive parties around the region. She was looking to open a store in Eugene or Portland, but she found support in Eugene, and Portland is already home to similar progressive sex shops such as She Bop, she says.
As You Like It is different from the average sex store in several ways, Marks says; the goal is be open, welcoming and informative. Marks has brought on staff Oblio Stroyman, who also co-owns The Redoux Parlour and, until recently, was a practicing marriage and family therapist, and Gail Karuna-Vetter, a licensed massage therapist and a clinical herbalist.
“It’s a place where people can come in and ask questions and get support,” Stroyman says.
Karuna-Vetter nods in agreement. “Talking about sex and sexuality can be very difficult for people,” she says. “Our culture doesn’t really support us being fully open and honest with our needs. What we’re hoping to create here is an environment where people feel comfortable coming in and talking to a knowledgeable sales staff that help them with their sales questions without making them feel embarrassed or too uncomfortable.”
The gender-inclusive piece, the three agree, also sets the store apart. “I really want to be for everybody and every body,” she says. “Everything I sell works for every body.” Beyond the average sex-toy fare — lubricants, vibrators, butt plugs, dildos and whips — As You Like It offers an entire “gender expression” section including breast forms and stand-to-pee devices.
For Marks, who also works fulltime for Greenpeace, the shop had to be eco-sexual — or eco-conscious and nontoxic. As You Like It carries only non-toxic and phthalate-free products (phthalates, used in many sex toys, have been found to be carcinogenic). And she prefers buying from local vendors; most of her products come from the West Coast and many are made here in Eugene, like leather products from Painful Pleasures.
The store will host educational workshops too.
“There’s going to be people coming in to talk about, not just sex, but relationships,” Stroyman says. Marks adds that there will be workshops on health and wellbeing, and she’s planning a discussion group for women experiencing perimenopause.
In spite of local support, Marks says she faced many obstacles in trying to open the store. “I was turned down by I think seven landlords because they didn’t like my type of business,” she says. “There’s tons of bias in this industry. There’s even more bias I think in towns where they’ve never seen a more progressive [shop] too.”
In Marks’ experience, “people calm down when they actually see the space or the website.”
As You Like It is located at 1655 W. 11th Ave., No. 1. See asyoulikeitshop.com for details.