At Tulip Toy Gallery, you'll find no booths for viewing hardcore flicks, no made-in-China vibes encased in hard plastic, and certainly none of that lowly Astroglide crap. Tucked between ethnic restaurants and boutique hotels on South Beach's idyllic Espanola Way, the female-owned, gay-friendly gallery hawks high end sex toys in a style that's far more elegant than its predecessors.
From the top to the bottom, Tulip looks like a typical upscale beach boutique, with a crystal chandelier over head and hardwood floors under foot. But what's in between is much different: a parade of vibrators, dildos of all colors, and sexual how-to manuals for just about every known act. The health-conscious gallery sells toys made with only the safest materials—there's not a single phallus comprised of rubber or latex, as both can become bacterial breeding grounds after continual usage. Additionally, nearly all lubes and lotions sold are made of all-natural ingredients.
"We wouldn't sell anything that we wouldn't put in our own bodies," says store manager Jody Kolley. "Toys that are made of silicone are more easily cleaned and don't harbor bacteria. Most people don't think about these things. They'll buy all their food organic, but not think about what their sex toys are made of, when they're being used on the most sensitive areas."
Ease of shopping
Don't be shy. Fondling of the merchandise is encouraged. Every toy sold has a display version that's set out for customers to feel the texture, flexibility, and strength of vibration. Ask a question about a product and you're likely to get an earful; employees are experts when it comes to recommendations and advice. "Never be afraid to ask about how to use a toy, how to clean it, or how long battery life is. We advocate education," Kolley says. Tulip offers a generous two week return period for defective, unused purchases (at most adult stores, all toy sales are final).
Customers love the modern aesthetic of Swedish-made Lelo brand vibrators, which are rechargeable and come with a one-year warranty. Fun Factory vibrators, available in a range of shapes and colors, are big sellers thanks to reliable, German-made motors. Discreet ladies love the Grrl Toys lipstick vibe, which lends a softer sensation for girls that "only need a little extra something," Kolley says.
See, read, wear, tease
Tulip has a well-stocked library for every lifestyle, fetish, or level of expertise. Some select titles: "The Handjob Handbook," "I Heart Female Orgasm," and the On Our Back's series "Guide to Lesbian Sex." Also available: vintage-inspired lingerie by Lucy B that will channel your inner Bettie Page, boas, ticklers and other non-electronic accessories to ramp up foreplay. And why is it a "gallery" and not simply a store? Because Tulip features a rotating lineup of local artists, displaying their works throughout the space.