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How to buy your BDSM gear saving 90% of the cost

After publishing my article about the changes in Hamburg sex shops, several people asked me to elaborate on the matter. Their recurring question was: as of today, where would you recommend buying BDSM or fetish gear, should I want anything a tad more uncommon than your everyday dildo?
And so here I am. But I need to frame the topic in a realistic perspective – which largely depends on how media work.

If you follow any sex blogger or read the occasional magazine feature about sex toys you will have noticed how uniform their approach is. They describe the item, almost always praise it, stress its quality, then they suggest where to buy it.
There is nothing odd about it at first sight, and – mark my words – this is an impeccable approach… however there are a few elements at work behind the scenes you should better be aware of. The starting point is the undying question: «cui prodest?»

With the exception of a sparse minority of sexual explorers whose sole interest is truly making the world a better place, anyone writing about these (or other) subjects rightfully tries to get some revenue out of it. Which is an unfortunately almost desperate proposition, so they cling to every little chance of monetizing – that boils down to two possibilities.

The first is to host some shop or brand ads on your website. That customarily earns you a pittance, plus a percentage on the sales originating from a click on those ads. The reason why you don’t see such things on www.ayzad.com is that, bar a very few truly exceptional cases, the financial reward is so low it is not worth the pain. Personally, I feel that a few hundred euros do not justify pestering my readers with banners, popups and nuisances promoting one company or another.
The second method is inserting so-called affiliate links in the articles, meaning links pointing out to a specific sales page and include a unique identifying code. What happens if the sale is completed, then, is that the online store knows the transaction was facilitated by a specific site, to be paid the above-mentioned commission. This is a much less invasive system I occasionally use myself: it remains invisible to the readers and… also earns you pennies. On average, you have cause to celebrate if this sort of income manages to cover the basic maintenance cost of your website.

At the end of the day, what really matters is that reviewers have an incentive to push their commercial partners: that’s why you sometimes happen to see embarrassingly exaggerated praises of very average shops, or to get directed to stores featuring somewhat steep prices. It is not out of malice nor incompetence, but of the eminently understandable attempt of making ends meet through one’s passions. Still, however you see it, this underlying dynamic ends up coloring even involuntarily every aspect of writing, up to risking to turn it into disinformation.

Let’s take the example of a classic vibrator. Read a typical review, and you will surely see it stress the following:

  • Name products are better than unbranded ones
  • The more expensive items use better, safer and more controlled materials
  • Well-known shops are a guarantee of quality
  • Beware of imitations

…which is all true, but not entirely precise. It’s 2019, and saying this it is like maintaining that you should only fly with State-owned airlines, stay in big-name hotels only and exclusively listen to music on CD albums: times have changed. Truth is that in very few cases low-cost products use lower quality materials that on exceptional instances may even be dangerous, as in the case of phtalates-releasing plastics. Never mind the fact that covering any penetrative toy with a condom during use should be the norm, journos often forget to mention that the overwhelming majority of premium items come out of the same assembly lines of their low-cost counterparts. The packaging is usually the only difference.

This is even more true when talking about more peculiar objects. Those wonderful, unsettling and shiny steel BDSM instruments sold for hundreds of dollars in famous stores? They all come from Pakistan or China, where you can buy them directly at a fraction of the cost. The very expensive chastity cages used by many cuckold couples? They are $4.26 each on Aliexpress, shipping and seller’s markup included. 90% of the fetish outfits and accessories peddled by refined online sex shops? You will find them – even presented with the very same pictures – at a huge discount right on the websites of their Chinese manufacturers.

Given all of that, you have to ask where is the sense in perpetrating this open secret. My evil part could understand it if you’d get amazing profits out of it all, but believe me: this is not the case. The Internet subverted the rules of every market, and keep pretending the sex toys industry is the only immune one only damages its final users, namely you. Therefore, I may as well say things as they are, and teach you how to obtain dozens of excellent “novelty items” without getting into debt.

Before that, however, I must clear up another key concept. This guide works for most products, but not all of them. Especially if you harbor unusual tastes and needs, kinky specialists and artisans remain your best choice. The resources list I have assembled over the years, for example, collects hundreds of hyperspecialized shops offering custom and otherwise inaccessible products. Browse it!
Apparel is another instance where the opportunity to try the items on before purchase makes a world of difference. Although most unbranded sources really strive to ensure an ideal fitting, the risk of ending up with a wonky or wrong-sized outfit is still considerable.

Another important factor is shipping times. If you really need that toy now, nothing beats western stores, sometimes guaranteeing next-day delivery – at a cost.

Finally, you must weight how important pre- and post-sale support is for you. The most affordable shops can replace defective items at best, but surely they cannot help you choose the best products for you, provide suggestions or information like the very best do.

Having said this, let’s cut to the chase. What is the best way of buying your next sex toy?

 

1 – Identify what you are interested into

When talking about erotic toys, be it a simple dildo or the most exoteric item, it is easy to get smothered in superlatives. Every description makes them unique, exceptional, novel and unparalleled. Reality, however… well, excepting a bunch of truly peculiar cases, the products are often pretty standardized, with very little variations between them.

I wanted to show you a real-world scenario, so not wanting to disappoint anyone I chose one among the most niche items ever – but the principles remain valid for any object. Let’s say, then, we want to buy an electrified testicle press, so no big brand will take it bad. You might be surprised in learning that there is a dozen different models out there at the least, but browsing around and reading some reviews you quickly realize one in particular is simple, efficient and somehow versatile.

 

2 – Find a reference shop

Now we need a baseline for our next evaluations. Let’s visit a quite well-known store then, and see what conditions they offer for our object of desire.

electrified ball press 1

Given the genre, I pointed straight to the German guys of Meo, specializing in male BDSM instruments and definitely competent. To get a ballsquashotron to our home they ask for 99 euros, plus 6.90 for delivery in a week – or 18.90 if we want it within 24 hours.

 

3 – Seek for the same product on other websites
Let’s see whether someone else has a better offer now. The most practical route is, of course, to type the product’s commercial name into Google and scroll through the results. Some sellers however tend to come up with custom definitions, so another great trick is to right-click on its picture and select ‘Search for this picture on Google’. This allows you to take advantage of the laziness of so many vendors who simply copy and paste a couple of standard photos: after that, it is just a matter of comparing prices.

electrified ball press 2

A typical destination I also met in our example is Ebay, where the electrogonadsqueezer is sold for €32.07 plus 1.17 shipping. You sure have to wait three weeks for delivery, but it’s a 66% saving already!
Also, looking closely at the description you will notice a couple of interesting details. The proportions are a little different, because the hinge is placed on an internal spacer ensuring the two boards will remain a bit separated even when turning the screws to the max. In other words: it is safer than the original, where overenthusiasm risks compressing the testicles too much and causing not only pain, but also pretty serious damage.

electrified ball press 3

Looking at the “related products” I even noticed the above variant. The instrument is the same, but the shock-generating element is a separate power box, way more versatile than the silver thingamajig mounted on the other model, and compatible with many other accessories. Clear perspex allows to better appreciate the press effects, and the steampunky electrodes look cool, if you are into that. Pity it is considerably more expensive, so let’s get back to our original search…

 

4 – When you end up on a multi-vendor site, check out other offers

Ebay and the such are literally big marketplaces, so why buy at the first virtual stall? Besides examining the automatically generated related proposals, a very effective technique is to copy the product description in the search field. You see, many retailers use the text strings provided by their wholesale supplier, and in addition to be often hilarious these awful translations can reveal nice surprises.

electrified ball press 4

In our own case, the surprise after a couple attempts consists in finding the very same item as above further reduced: €17.83, and free delivery within three-four weeks. If we are not in a hurry, we are saving 84% on the first price we had found. Somebody might object that this mysterious vendor has not enough feedbacks to be trustworthy… but where is the problem? By paying with Paypal we will be guarded against (improbable) scams by two purchase protection systems, so there is no risk involved!

 

5 – Check out the original price too

Very long shipping times are a clear clue: the seller has no warehouse in the West, but they are buying each item from a supplier in China, then they apply a markup just for us. So why not to skip the middleman and going straight to the source? Since we only need one piece, we cannot resort to a wholesaler, but we can find pretty similar conditions on Aliexpress. Even if it is not listed on most search engines, that is the market where the majority of sex shops stock up.

electrified ball press 5

Sure enough, a two-minutes search unveil… well, the very same product, but this time it’s €12. Free twenty-three days delivery, and a bonus coupon for an about €3 rebate on the next purchase included. Not to mention the site warranties: if for any reason the item should come in late or we don’t like it, you can choose between replacement or reimbursement via a much smoother process than with many European vendors.

 

To recap: about ten minutes of searching allowed us to save €93.9 on a product that’s even better than the first we considered – that’s almost 90% of the starting cost! What’s best is that this was not an exception, but the rule for almost every sex toy on the market.
Conditions like these change the very approach to sexual exploration: if buying a bunch of toys costs less than going out for pizza, we can allow ourselves to try out even those objects we were curious about, but not convinced enough to invest in. And there’s more: with the money you save, you can buy something really special, maybe from a famous artisan. Take it from a custom whips collector.

But what about scams? We all know the urban legends – and the true stories – about cheap Chinese knockoffs, and I’d be a liar if I told you I never stumbled into one. They may indeed happen – although it is possible to get a lemon even from reputable shops, as we have seen. However, I must also admit that in many years of parsimonious purchases it only happened twice to me.
In the first case, an item that should have been entirely steel had a chromed plastic accessory; in the other a power box came in with an internal unsoldered wire which I fixed in three minutes. I would have been really mad if I had paid full price for them, but for less than 5 euros apiece, I just laughed it away.

And there you are. I hope I was of help. But now go see that resources page before it becomes entirely superfluous…

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