Gold Winner and Hall of Fame inductee
Silver Winner Night Magic Fashions
Bronze Winner Indulgence Intimate ApparelEditor's note: With its latest Best Sex-toy Shop win in 2013, Venus Envy was elevated to the Best of Halifax Hall of Fame.
Best of Halifax is probably the only context in which one could describe Venus Envy as untouchable. But after being named the city’s Best Sex-toy Shop for 15 years in a row (that’s every year since it opened), it’s pretty accurate. Venus Envy is literally the best we ever had, kinda the Gretzky of stores, which is why in 2013 it joined the Best of Halifax Hall of Fame.
Shelley Taylor opened Venus Envy in 1998, running the shop as a one-woman operation and striving to bring sex-positive education to town. “Our first tagline was "Venus Envy: a store for women and the people who love them, which spoke to the void Shelley was trying to fill by opening a friendlier place for queer and straight women to shop,” says Marshall Haywood, who Taylor hired in 1999 when the store moved to Barrington Street. “It didn't take long to realize that all sorts of folks want a clean, well-lit, non-judgmental place to find books, toys and related products.”
As Venus Envy’s first employee, Haywood worked part time, full time and in a management position alongside Taylor before eventually buying the store from her in 2008. Haywood says 15 years in—at a time when vibrators are even available at Walmart—offering pleasure-based sex-ed that isn’t shameful is still crucial.“So few people grow up with the tools they need to develop emotionally and physically healthy sex lives, most of us have to do some retroactive learning about our bodies and relationship with sexual pleasure. I want Venus Envy to be a safe place for that kind of personal exploration,” says Haywood, who adds the store’s books are among the sexiest items in stock. “And not even just the erotica. I think that we sell the kind of books that can open your mind and even change your life.”
Haywood says that over the years Venus Envy’s customer base has grown and evolved with the store. And that’s probably with much thanks its passionate staff that make any topic accessible, every shopping trip comfortable and any question askable.
“I love my work and I'm happiest when I'm talking to customers or reorganizing the shop,” says Haywood. “Being a small business owner makes me feel strongly connected to my city in a way that I am so grateful for.”