At This SoHo Boutique, Sexual Wellness Is a Contact Sport

Contact Sports pulls back the curtain on a relaxed, athletic-themed storefront by Ringo Studio that makes the guilt-ridden experience of going to a sex shop fun and approachable.

The market for sexual wellness may be expanding, but walking into a sex store can still be a fraught, guild-ridden experience marked by neon signs and seedy posters. Crowded aisles stocked with hundreds of hard-to-decipher products can overwhelm, which is why Contact Sports pared things down when envisioning their boutique in SoHo, New York, which replaces Babeland’s former decades-old storefront that closed during Covid. “Sex should be fun, explorative, exciting, and, well, sexy, all while respecting boundaries,” says Chelsea Kerzner, who co-founded Contact Sports with her husband, Jason. 

To accomplish this, the Kerzners tapped Ringo Studio to devise a fresh retail concept—a vintage, ‘70s-inspired locker-room theme—unseen within the sexual wellness industry. It was a welcome task for founder Madelynn Ringo, whose former gig as Glossier’s creative lead on retail experiences has made her well-versed in realizing brand touchpoints through exuberant, feel-good interiors that are at once engaging, magnetic, and of-the-moment. (See: Our Place, Modern Age.) “There was such a market gap in innovative retail experiences that focused on celebrating sexual wellness,” Ringo says, “so we wanted the design to be both elevated and approachable.”

The boutique nods to the world of sports to present products for pleasure in a judgment-free setting. A tight edit of entry-level gear and sensual gifts by Flamingo Estate, Gossamer, Maude, Kiki de Montparnasse, and Dame preside in vintage-inspired lockers, whose glowing walnut textures soothe the nerves. Ditto for the entry’s rose shop and curvy lounge, where buyers peruse magazines in a Jonathan de Pas baseball glove chair. It all coalesces to position sex as a sport—“something that’s fun, exciting, and often requires practice,” Ringo says. On that note, customers will be coming back for more: the store plans to host events like sports viewing and speed-dating parties.

(All photography by Anna Morgowicz.)

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