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February 13, 2003 - Image 18

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-02-13

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6B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend Ilagazie -

The Michigan Daily - Wkeid Naqiaiie - Thursday

estled snugly amid the vast number of shops along South University
Avenue, Ann Arbor's Safe Sex Store catches its fair share of inquisitive
eyes from the pedestrians walking along the sidewalk. While almost
everyone has seen the store, not all are aware of the store's mission
and role in the community.
The blue trimmed store is no dirty adult novelty worry, because Karneisool and her employees go to
shop that no one with a good reputation would dare great lengths to make these customers feel as com-
be seen entering. fortable as possible.
On the contrary, upon entering one cannot help "Once they come in the door we receive compli-
but notice that the store is the paragon of organza- ments of, 'Wow this is really nice,' or 'This isn't what
tion and cleanliness. The racks and shelves are set up I expected', Karmeisool said. "These compliments
in such a way as to allow the viewer to comfortably come from all age groups."
peruse the products on sale. One of the greatest benefits of the customer-cen-
And unlike some stores whose main goal is to pro- tered service is the personalized gift bags you can
vide enjoyment - something that can be found a create. With the help of one of the store's staff, you
plenty at the Safe Sex Store - this shop has a dif- can go around the store assembling a cornucopia of
ferent goal. The cozy spot has had one simple goal items that fit your price range and your comfort
since it opened eight years ago. level. With the help of the staff you can create a
"The biggest focus ever since the store opened is unique gift to fit one's financial needs.
on education," Beth Karmeisool, owner of the Safe "You don't need to spend a lot of money to enjoy
Sex Store said. "Our purpose is to form a safe com- the products," Karmeisool said.
fortable environment for our guests to ask questions The store also has many repeat customers, some
and feel safe about their purchases." , of which go on to be employees - Karmeisool cur-
Karmeisool says You would be hard pressed to rently has two staffers who were customers first. All
find graphic nudity on display in the store, the employees of the Safe Sex Store are certified in
because does not buy products from her suppliers sexual health and education by the Midwest AIDS
that contain lewd, degrading or threatening mate- Prevention Project.
rial on the packaging. The Safe Sex Store's commitment to AIDS pre-
She says she does this is in effort to make all her vention and awareness extends beyond just training
customers feel as comfortable as possible. its employees. Part of the proceeds from every sale
Karmeisool does not want anyone to feel threatened the store makes is given to MAPP
or intimidated by the material in the store and tries to The store is also sponsoring an event called
ensure that the people who shop there feel safe. Aphrodisia this weekend. Aphrodisia is a wine-tast-
"I put a lot of care and effort into keeping the ing benefit for MAPP, which the store hopes to raise
packaging as clean as possible," Karmeisool said. $10,000 for the organization, to be held Sunday, Feb.
This care is necessary because although the store 16, at Goodnite Gracie. Tickets, which are tax-
is located near campus, it serves a wide variety of deductible charitable donations, are $45 for an indi-
customers who shop there. vidual and $80 for a couple for the wine tasting.
"We have a lot of students, but it is really a mixed The Safe Sex Store will also come to you in its
age group who come in here," Amanda Dotten, the "S3 at home" program. Representatives from the
store's manager, said. store will come to your home and demonstrate some
These different customers all bring different levels of the stores most popular items. The sex toy parties
of comfort and sensitivity to the subject matter and are mostly bought by women for girls night out or By Charles Paradis
the store is designed to make all of those who wish bachelorette parties.DW ee kr
to shop there feel safe and respected. "We like to keep everything real discreet so as not D aily kend Eto
This philosophy applies not only to the products, to offend anybody," Karmeisool said.
but also and perhaps even more importantly to the These sex toy parties are immensely popular and
staff who work at the store. Karmeisool has four peo- are equally enjoyable.
ple who work for her and all are trained to make the The store is not just all fun and games though.
customers feel as comfortable as possible. Karmeisool also holds seminars for sex education
Karmeisool puts a great emphasis on customer for college students. While the sex toy parties are
care and attention. Whenever a customer enters the typically held by women, the seminars are for any-
store, they are greeted by one of the staff who typi- one interested in sexual health and awareness.
cally asks icebreakers to make the customers feel Karmeisool has been working with the University
welcome and alleviate any tensions they may have. for the last four years, going to the dorms and class-
"Our customers truly are friends," she said. rooms in an effort to educate students about sex and
Karneisool says the majority of customers who sex education.
come in are comfortable before they' walk in the "The goal is to leave the audience feeling empow-
door, but some are not. Any customer who is unsure ered with knowledge and added sense of respect for
if he or she will feel comfortable in the store need not themselves,' Karmeisool said. do

Safe
Sex ()
Store\

PHOTOS BY JONATHON TRIEST

....,....,.,.. ,, . ~ .. .N xa..

1. Dice Games
Let the dice predict your
next move. From the kissing
dice to the stripping dice
these games are fun for all.
A great gift for under $5.
2. Kamasutra line
This popular line of gifts
offers massage oils, body
creams and-other treats
such as the Honey Dust
(applied with a feather).

The standard box of chocolate
and dozen roses is a tried and
true Valentine's Day gift. But
many other options exist for the
adventurous shopper.
Whether you are looking for
something for your wild part-
ner or just something fun to
spice up your night, the safe
sex store offers a wide variety
of products. You can try one of
these creative novelties or have
one of the store's helpful
employees help you create a
gift bag for your special some-
one on Valentine's Day.

3. Strip chocolates
This sexy alternative to the
traditional box of choco-
lates is a treat for any cou-
ple. So dig in and follow
instructions.
4. Adult novelties
S3 also provides a full
line of sex toys and
recently-added DVDs. You
must be over 18 to buy the
DVDs, so bring ID.

sea~

plce

I

.or
ay

Vaentine

S

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