The first sex toy shop in Beijing opened in 1992, and there are now an estimated 2,000 “adult shops” in the capital. To gain some insight into this industry and the lives of those involved in it, we interviewed the proprietor of a small sex shop located in Sanlitun (三里屯), the entertainment district of Beijing and a popular hangout for foreigners. She declined to be photographed for this article, but was more than happy for us to photo her merchandise. The interview with her is as follows.
How did you get into this line of work?
A friend of mine from my hometown in rural Anhui province introduced me to this business. I was attracted to it by the fact that it doesn’t require hard work and that the start up capital is quite low. I founded the shop over three years ago, after moving to Beijing. I’m the sole employee. My friend is still involved in this industry and supplies me with merchandise.
Has this business been profitable?
I can earn much more running this business than I could in my hometown. I don’t have a high education level, so my alternatives would have been washing dishes or babysitting.
How much money does your sex shop make each month?
I’d rather not say, but it is two to three times what I would have made as a babysitter in my hometown.
Are the small sex shops in Beijing usually managed by migrants from the countryside?
Yes. This job is quite time consuming, so people from Beijing wouldn’t want to do it.
Can you please describe a typical day at work?