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Babeland, formerly known as Toys in Babeland, is a women-owned sex toy boutique offering erotic toys, books and pornographic films. Babeland has an online store and four retail stores (in Seattle, Brooklyn, and two in Manhattan).
Claire Cavanah and Rachel Venning founded Toys in Babeland in 1993 in response to the lack of women-friendly sex shops in Seattle. (The store's name is a spoonerism of Babes in Toyland, the title of a Laurel & Hardy film. It was, uncoincidentally the name of an emerging all-female band from Minneapolis by the same name). Committed to offering information and encouragement to women who wanted to explore their sexuality, the owners focused on selling quality sex toys in a boutique-like setting.
In 1995, Toys in Babeland started its mail order business with a small print catalog based out of their Seattle store. The Toys in Babeland website followed shortly thereafter, in 1996. The owners opened their second Toys in Babeland store in New York City in 1998, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. In 2003 another New York store opened in SoHo. In 2005, Babeland debuted its fourth store in Los Angeles, which has since closed. In 2008, Babeland opened a new location in Park Slope, Brooklyn, making a total of three stores in New York City.
In 1999 the Toys in Babeland staff developed a specific mission: to promote and celebrate sexual vitality by providing an honest, open and fun environment. Encouraging personal empowerment, community education, and support for a more passionate world are key.
In 2003 Rachel Venning and Claire Cavanah, founders of Toys in Babeland wrote Sex Toys 101: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing and Using Sex Toys. Readers learn the ins and outs of sexual anatomy, vibrators, strap-ons, lube, men's toys, anal play and more. Written in an informal style and full of photographs, Sex Toys 101 is the first full-color guide to toys for satisfying sex.
In 2005 Toys in Babeland officially shortened its name to "Babeland" and modernized its look. Says co-founder Venning, “Toys in Babeland had become much more than just a place to buy sex toys, so we decided to present Babeland as a destination, a lifestyle, a state of mind—all celebrating the simple truth that sexually healthy people make the world a happier place.”
In 2008, Babeland ran a promotion in which they gave away a free sex toy to anyone who voted in that November's election.
Babeland has received numerous awards over the years, including a 2006 Zagat's Survey award as "the best shopping experience in New York." It was voted "Best Place to Buy Sex Toys" by The Village Voice and Seattle Weekly.