by John Russel Jones

So much of what we’re seeing in fashion marketing and retail is about the shifting interest from owning objects to having experiences. A new shop in New York’s SoHo, Contact Sports, is giving a whole new meaning to shopping for “sporting goods.” [Editor’s note: this story is rated “R” for racy, but we promise, there are clothes involved.]

Located at 43 Mercer Street, Contact Sports’ first shop is changing how shopping for sex gear should look and feel. Upon entering, customers will find a full-service rose shop, followed by a locker-room-inspired, carefully curated boutique.

In a survey conducted before the launch, many people reported feeling uncomfortable walking into a sex store. Uninviting exteriors felt intimidating, the aisles were hard to navigate, and the shelves stocked hundreds of products that were hard to decipher. While a handful of more modern sex brands have launched over the past few years, many of which will be carried at Contact Sports, the retail experience itself had yet to evolve.

As mentioned, the first stop is a 15-foot wall of fresh, hand-cut, long-stem, red roses (Shown above), available for purchase as singles or bundles of seven and 14, inspired by some of the most memorable moments in sport, from Michael Phelps’ 8-straight Beijing Olympic podiums to the iconic Pasadena Rose Bowl.

Contact Sports flips the traditional model on its head and takes a more curated approach, stocking only 70 products at launch. Their team spent more than a year vetting a category that includes tens of thousands to offer only the best of the best, with unexpected touches that enhance the full experience around the sport, such as candles from Flamingo Estate, games from Serena Kerrigan, Delights from Rose LA, and pre-rolls from Gossamer, alongside merchandise from brands including Kiki de Montparnasse, Lelo, Dame, Maude, Future Method, and more.

Take a seat on their iconic Jonathan de Pas baseball glove chair and peruse an unrivaled selection of vintage Playboy and Sports Illustrated magazines. They even come with a bookmark that doubles as a ruler…

The brand has also developed a warm-up-inspired apparel and accessory line that will drop in limited quantities. At launch, the CS gear includes sweatshirts, hoodies, a classic baseball cap, towel, water bottle, and a tube sock that is sold — ahem — as a single.

Co-founder Chelsea Kerzner says “Sex should be fun, explorative, exciting and, well, sexy, all while respecting boundaries. We’re changing the mindset around a traditionally guilt-ridden retail experience. Whether you’re looking for solo play or a couple that’s curious to test out some new gear, we’ve created a space for the athlete in all of us.”

By defining sex as a sport, the company is encouraging people to release endorphins for happier, healthier lives through experiences that are sweaty, within bounds, and full contact.