The Shag Shop will provisionally open up as an online store this fall after closing in April. As no replacement has been found for its previous physical location next to the Student Health clinic, free safer sex and health items will now be available at Student Health Services, as well as at other locations around campus such as Dave’s Store (in the basement of the Bronfman building), and the main floor washroom of Thomson House.
The Shag Shop opened in 2005 as a sexual health boutique run by Student Health Services. Its former location is being repurposed as an accessible entrance to the First Peoples’ House.
According to Amanda Unruh, the health promotion coordinator at Student Health Services, the online store should be live by October, offering a subset of its previous selection. “We’re going to focus more on health items,” Unruh told The Daily in an interview. “The plan is to provide more connections with other online retailers that have a wider variety of sex toys.”
In addition to safer sex items, such as condoms and lube, the new kiosks around campus will be offering various other health-related items. “Right now we’re handing out a lot of sunscreen and sunglasses, but then throughout the year perhaps [we’ll have] more pertinent health items like earplugs, [dams], and moisturizers, things like that,” said Unruh.
Former Shag Shop volunteer Alice Gauntley expressed disappointment with the fact that, although some of the products remain available, students have lost access to a space where they could receive information and advice on their sexual health.
“I was sad to learn that the Shop will no longer be able to offer students a private, accessible, non-judgemental physical location in which to access sexual health items and information,” Gauntley wrote in an email to The Daily.
“A move to an online store and smaller kiosks all over campus might reach new and different folks, which would be super exciting,” added Gauntley. “But I remain frustrated that the shop, which has proven itself a haven for myself and many others, was not offered a suitable place elsewhere on campus to relocate.”
Unruh indicated that the search for a new location will continue after the online store is set up, but noted that the Shop has particular requirements that make the search difficult.
“It needs to be in a discreet location, and it needs to be in a place that is easily accessible and that is easy to direct people to, but [such that it’s] not obvious that people are going there,” explained Unruh.
“There [were] a number of options […] but we do need to have more privacy when it comes to the store. So, there would have to be additional walls and sound barriers installed so that people felt private when they were shopping, and also so that if they asked questions about their sexual health, they would feel as though it was a private matter and that people outside couldn’t hear.”