(Note: This story appears in the October 2021 issue of Storerotica Magazine)
Dynamo Toys services New Orleans as a sex-positive store that has become a staple in the community, emphasis on “community.”
New Orleans: home to po’ boys, Bourbon Street, Café du Monde, Carnival — and Dynamo Toys, a sex-positive store located in the heart of the city.
Dynamo was started by Hope Kodman and her business partner, Nico, in 2013. Kodman had long wanted to work in the sexuality field and coupled that desire with a background in anthropology with “a focus in the ways that culture approaches sexuality and kink,” she says.
As a college graduate into the recession, she knew her dream job would have to be self-started.
“Immersing myself in the sex educator community, I was so impressed with sex-positive shops I’d seen and heard about around the country,” says Kodman, “I was surprised New Orleans didn’t have one yet — we are such a sexy city, after all — I thought ‘Let’s give that a try.’”
Storerotica spoke with Hope about what it’s like operating a sex-positive shop in the Crescent City.
SE: Can you tell me about launching Dynamo Toys?
HOPE: Nico actually had the experience in retail — she worked for many years at The Tool Shed, an amazing sex positive boutique in Milwaukee, and had come to New Orleans in hopes of creating a similar space here. It was a match made in swampy heaven!
Our city had a few sex shops at the time, but no one was curating their products for body safety and no one seemed to be coming from the explicit start point of education or community inclusion, as we wanted to. We existed for years as a website and a pop-up at whatever events would have us (we tabled a lot of burlesque shows), eventually receiving a small neighborhood grant and working our way into the full size brick-and-mortar boutique we occupy today. It was a long journey, and we are so happy to be part of the New Orleans landscape today!
SE: Your website has emergency contraception and LGBTQ+ resources posted, so whose idea was that?
HOPE: Being a resource for our community has been part of Dynamo’s mission for the start. We are a retailer, yes, but our goal has always been to give back to our neighbors, too.
One of the ways we do this is by acting as a hub for free or by-donation emergency contraception (“EC,” sometimes known better by the brand name Plan B) for a local nonprofit called Plan B NOLA that provides it to us to distribute. Folks can come by any time during our shop hours to get some EC at no cost – this is a big deal since it can often cost upwards of $50 at a pharmacy! During the pandemic, Dynamo was doing local contactless delivery of our products, and we added contactless EC delivery to our offerings, too. We still offer free EC delivery to this day, and I don’t see us stopping anytime soon. I see it as one impactful way that we can use our time and connections to give back.
Our website also has a Community Resources tab, for reproductive health and LGBTQ+ resources. We’ve always strived to be an inclusive space for folks of all genders and sexualities, both in the kinds of products we offer and the environment we’ve created. As far as the south goes, New Orleans is a pretty darn queer-friendly city, especially for the deep south, but there’s always more we can do to help!
SE: What is it like to operate an adult shop in New Orleans? How would you describe your clientele demographic?
HOPE: Honestly, it’s a ton of fun. I love New Orleans — the food, costuming, parades, street cocktails — we are a city that is so full of life and character. And New Orleanians are hilarious. They have a great sense of humor, so we’ve tried to bring a lot of that irreverence and sense of fun to the shop. We’re always joking around with customers, asking about their week (we are a very chatty city), offering restaurant recommendations to tourists. We give out King Cake during Carnival season and I always come to the shop dressed up on Halloween. During the pandemic, since Mardi Gras parades were canceled, people around the city made their own “house floats,” – decorating their homes and businesses with big papier-mâché sculptures. Naturally, we had to build a 6-foot Magic Wand to hang off the front of our storefront!
SE: Overall, how do you feel Dynamo is accepted in NOLA?
HOPE: Very well, thank goodness! I think that because of the easy-going attitudes in this city as a whole, we’ve been able to thrive in a way that we might not have been able to in other parts of the city or even other parts of Louisiana. As I said, it’s a very sexy place! We’re honored to be part of the community here.
SE: Toy parties!? Those sound fun … what do those do for your standing as a sex positive retailer in the community?
HOPE: Toy parties have been a fun way for us to give our customers a more curated experience – your readers are probably familiar with Passion Parties and the like, these are more or less the same idea, just with our own inventory and educators. They’re very popular for folks to book as part of bachelorette weekends or birthday celebrations. You can book time at our shop or we can come to you!
For more information, please visit dynamotoys.com.