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167 West 4th Street

Home of vaginal pumps, glass dildos, and vibrators as far as the eye can see, the “Toy Room” is the epicenter of female pleasure at the Pink Pussycat. Despite the unusual surroundings, Mayury Vallecillo, the shop’s manager, answered interview questions for Julia, a member of the Manhattan Sideways team, no less casually than if she were in a coffee shop.

The sex shop’s feminism manifests not only in its inventory, but in its staff and atmosphere. Pink Pussycat is entirely staffed by women, which, as Mayury understands, tends to make women more comfortable shopping. The most common remarks she hears are those along the lines of, “I’m so happy it’s all girls ‘cuz they have a creepy guy over in [this other shop.]” Women generally feel more secure here than in other sex shops when it comes to sharing their personal preferences (such as toy “fit”) and secret fantasies. Mayury believes this is the result of both the staff’s makeup and the movement to destigmatize female pleasure. She recalls how women used to say, “I’ve never had a vibrator before,” or “I’m buying this for a friend.” Today, women are significantly less shy, and she rarely hears those comments anymore. The presence of an all-female staff facilitates more profound dialogue between customers and employees. Women often come in crying, seeking guidance on how to deal with a cheating partner or an unsatisfying sex life. “I feel like a therapist,” Mayury shared with Julia.

Even though women are more confidently buying sex toys, the most popular items have remained the same. Mayury indicated a small pink toy, the Triple C Clitoral Vibrator, as their best-selling item for the past five years. "People still prefer the same things.” She mentioned improvements in the technology of sex toys, such as hypoallergenic and rechargeable options. The store carries a few all-female toy brands, such as CalExotics, but Mayury pointed out that most female pleasure toys are actually made by men.

The shop promotes inclusivity, boasting a wall filled exclusively with plus size costumes and offering items for gay and trans customers. The Pink Pussycat also supports niche interests: This is how the “Fetish Case” was born. This glass box contains a series of paddles and spiked objects, and sits at the base of the BDSM wall. The wall is not open to just anybody, though; Mayury said employees only “open that door if [customers are] already in that community.”

The composition of the clientele reflects who the shop's West Village neighbors used to be: artists, the LGBT community, and numerous bar fanatics. Pink Pussycat’s sales have not been immune to the gentrification of the neighborhood, which pushed out the residents that used to be the store’s main clients. In 2017, Mayury described the altered, evolved neighborhood as more “kid friendly.” Young West Village parents tend not to seek out their services as much as past neighborhood residents. The store used to stay open until 2am everyday (now it is only on the weekends), since the bar scene provided the store with a final wave of late night customers. As Mayury said, “Drunk people love to buy stuff.”

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More places on 4th Street

Lost Gem
Pageant Print Shop 1 Bookstores Family Owned undefined

Pageant Print Shop

Pageant Print Shop’s entirely glass storefront bordered by light blue is instantly eye-catching and proudly displays the treasure within. Inside its bright, buttercream interior, an immense assortment of old prints and maps line every wall and fill neatly-labeled display racks. This sanctuary of beautiful historical pieces was created by Sidney Solomon and Henry Chafetz in 1946. It was originally one of the many second-hand book stores on Fourth Avenue, an area that was then known as “Book Row. ” Now under the leadership of Sidney’s daughters, Shirley and Rebecca, Pageant Print Shop primarily sells old prints and is thriving at its current 4th Street location. Having worked with historic pieces her whole life, Shirley knows how to get the best prints. She has amassed her impressive collection from antique book auctions as well as other various sources that she has built up over the years. Roger, who has been working at Pageant Print Shop for over a decade, told Manhattan Sideways that “what we are looking for are old books with the bindings broken that are really not in very good shape on the outside, but still have good quality prints, maps, or illustrations on the inside. ” Although they search for old books based on the contents within, the shop also sells the old bindings for creatives looking to make decoupage and other fun art projects. Pageant Print Shop is definitely a fixture in the East Village, and in the words of Roger, is “one of those neighborhood jams. ” They enjoy “a loyal group of people that have been coming here for eons, " tourists looking for something authentically New York City, and neighborhood people walking by. He told us that newcomers are often “surprised that they are able to buy a piece of history, ” and return for more of their authentic, beautiful, and historic prints. Pageant Print Shop is unique in its extensive, high quality, and affordable selection. Roger affirmed that “It’s going to be hard for you to find someone who has this kind of a collection at these kinds of prices — it’s just true. ”