Queer Sex Shop Babeland Sells to Sex Toy Chain After 25 Years

It’s officially the end of an era.

For 25 years Babeland has been more than just a sex toy shop and Rachel Venning and Claire Cavanah have been more than just the owners and co-founders. They created an experience. A community.

We want to celebrate the impact Venning and Cavanah have had on the LGBTQ community as we say goodbye to their era at Babeland. It was announced today that Babeland has sold to San Fransisco sex toy shop Good Vibrations. As of August 2017, Babeland’s four stores and website will keep their name and queer-inclusive, sex positive spirit now under new management.

Founded in 1993, Babeland—then called “Toys in Babeland”—was created to combat the dearth of woman-friendly (let alone woman-focused) sex shops in Venning and Cavanah’s native town Seattle. Twisting the name of a Laurel and Hardy film (“Babes in Toyland,” 1934) perfectly encapsulates the vibe at Babeland: lighthearted, open, fun. In the face of literal centuries of social stigma preventing women (and especially queer women) from talking about sex and sexuality, a place like Babeland was revolutionary. We needed a place where sex could be talked about out in the open. We needed Babeland.

Venning and Cavanah knew the community was desperate for this space and so they opened stores in Manhattan in 1998 and 2003, and another in Brooklyn in 2008.

Related: 20 Years of Babeland

Babeland quickly became a sex-positive haven for queer women. Sex education in America on the whole is incomplete at best and dangerous at worst, but for women who have sex with other women, it is downright abysmal. Lack of education about the existence of dental dams (not to mention the fact that, in some places, they’re near-impossible to find), how to properly clean and care for sex toys, and how often women should get checked for STIs puts human lives at risk in a very real way.

Related: Safer Sex For Queer Women: What You Didn’t Learn in Health Class

Babeland works hard to make up that lost ground: its sales associates are also sex educators who receive extensive training on anatomy, sexuality, gender, and all the seemingly-infinite types, materials, and functions of sex toys. They hold in-store workshops that cover everything anyone could possibly wish to know about sex, sexuality, and how to have a good time. And if you can’t make it to Seattle or New York, Venning and Cavanah’s books, “Sex Toys 101: A Playfully Uninhibited Guide” and “Moregasm: Babeland’s Guide to Mind-Blowing Sex,” (published in 2003 and 2010, respectively, and the second co-written by Jessica Vitkus), have you covered.

Cavanah and Venning are selling Babeland after 25 long, satisfying years of learning, safety, and play. Hopefully, that legacy will continue under new management. We wish them the best and can’t wait to see what new ventures they come up with next!