Stag Shop in the Glebe on grand opening day. Photo: Hunza Chaudhary, Centretown News.

Stag Shop opens two new stores in Ottawa

By Hunza Chaudhary

Sex sells in many industries, and Stag Shop has decided to sell it to Ottawa residents with the recent opening of two new shops on Bank Street: one in Centretown and the other in the Glebe.

The store has 28 locations across Ontario and opened the new outlets in December, but held off on the grand openings until Jan. 13.

The chain sells lingerie, vibrators and a wide range of sex toys and paraphernalia.

Sarah Goertzen, Stag Shop’s marketing director, said her role includes taking care of the marketing strategies for all 28 locations, along with the company’s online store.

She said there was a solid business case for opening two stores only two kilometres apart: “Ottawa is so incredibly diverse and even within a few blocks you can see there is different demographics to cater to. We find having the stores close together allows the two to support one another and provide a variety of options to different areas,” she said.

Although there are no plans to open any more stores in Ottawa, Goertzen emphasized the importance of supply and demand.

“We are in a unique situation within our industry where we have a demand in Ottawa from our customers to provide an in-person customer service experience that they need to become fully educated on the products we receive,” she said.

She also said the demand in the sex shop industry is expanding due to the growing social acceptance when it comes to sexuality, along with open-mindedness towards the idea that being sexual is healthy.

She emphasized the importance of an online presence by saying, “E-commerce is really booming right now and within our industry, online caters to those who really want the privacy and ability to browse.”

Sam Whittle, owner of Venus Envy, a Bank Street competitor of Stag Shop, said that the two new stores will not affect the sales at her store, though it’s located close to Stag Shop’s new Centretown location.

“We really focus on education and making the space feel really comfortable for people,” Whittle said.  “We don’t have a ton of overlap with customers. We’re really lucky to have a lot of loyal customers who come back to us all the time. I’m not worried about those people going to the Stag Shop.”

The Venus Envy  Facebook page includes upcoming events such as Queer and Trans Yoga or How to Talk to Your Kids about Porn.

With online shopping on the rise, the decision to open one new bricks-and-mortar location in central Ottawa, let alone two, is significant. “I was surprised that they opened two on the same street and in such close proximity to other stores,” said Whittle. “I would love to know why they decided on this location.”

Maria Anghelidis, a business student who described herself as a regular Stag Shop customer, also also questioned the wisdom of opening two stores so close together.

She wondered aloud whether Stag Shop was “trying to out-manoeuvre, out-price or out-whatever” other stores.

For her part, Goertzen said she wasn’t interested in disclosing any more detail about Stag Shop’s marketing strategy.