Sex Toys Upsetting Some Catalog Company Customers

Tod Hunter
WESTON, Vt. — Longtime catalog retailer The Vermont Country Store has aroused the anger of some of its customers by adding sex toys and videos to its homey offerings of old-time penny candy and flannel pajamas.

The new Intimate Solutions section of the store's website and catalog, which offers vibrators, kegel exercisers and a set of instructional sex videos for viewers over 40, has led to angry letters and cancellation requests.

Company proprietor Lyman Orton, 67, said that adding the new items to the catalog starting last summer was his idea.

"We never got any letters saying we want this. This was a sense, because our customers are a certain age and sex is below the surface in the world we deal in," Orton said. "I said 'Look, let's see if our customers respond to this.'"

Although customers have responded with purchases — the company said some of the items were big sellers, but wouldn't give details — other customers were outraged.

"The intimate massagers are certainly not what will uplift the youth of America but instead will lead them to be perverted pleasure seekers," one letter said. "Please rethink what you are doing."

"I am one of the women who respects her God-given human femininity," another wrote, in longhand. "These items are offensive to me."

Orton and his three sons, who are partners in the business, are considering whether the Intimate Solutions products are helping or hurting the brand.

"We're still wrestling with it," Eliot Orton, 36, said.