I was recently at a Spencer’s store with a friend who is also in the scene, and we looked at the section in the back that sells more adult-oriented items.  For those not familiar, Spencer’s is a mall store that sells mostly joke gifts and such, and generally, the further back in the store you go, the less “family-friendly” the store gets, with “PG-rated” stuff in front, going through “PG-13” to “R” to “NC-17” as you get to the back where the sex toys are.  For the most part, if you’re over 30, you are probably too mature for Spencer’s.  I’m still surprised that there’s a mall store that sells actual sex toys in the first place, even if they are basically junk, but there you go, I suppose.

However, the phrase, “there’s a sucker born every minute” definitely applies here.  Check this out:

"Nipple clamps" at Spencer's

"Nipple clamps" at Spencer's (back of the package)

These are marketed as “clothes pin nipple clamps”.  As far as I can tell, these are four regular wooden clothespins painted black.  And look at the price:

"Nipple clamps" at Spencer's (the price)

$12.99 for four clothespins?  Reeeeeeeeeeeeally?  That just blew me away.  It always amazes me that the price goes up to ridiculous levels as soon as something is being marketed specifically as a sexual or fetish item.  After all, a quick search on Amazon reveals that you can buy 100 clothespins for $6.96.  That’s a tad less than seven cents per clothespin, vs. around $3.25 for the Spencer’s product.  And I don’t know about you, but I consider wooden clothespins to be single-use items as far as play goes, since they’re not really designed to be cleaned and sanitized.

This also amused me while I was there:

Bondage rope at Spencer's

32 feet of rope, selling for $12.99.  That seems overpriced.  For what it’s worth, my rope comes from Big Lots and Home Depot.

Then this is what the whole fetish wall looks like:

The fetish wall at Spencer's

A whole bunch of cheaply made, overpriced trinkets.  Of course, I don’t think that the more experienced BDSM practitioner is going to end up going to Spencer’s in the first place for their gear.  I would hope that someone with a mind for these things would go other places where the prices are lower and the quality is higher.  The short of it is that if you’re going to a place like Spencer’s for your BDSM gear, you are, almost without question, going to get ripped off.

Whenever I think of things like this, I always think back to that time when I went to the Black Rose Gateway meeting in January 2012.  The person speaking talked about a riding crop, and how you will probably overpay for what you get if you buy one marketed for fetish.  However, you will probably pay less and get a far higher quality item if you go to a horse store, for use while riding horses (you know, what they were made for in the first place).  I’ve taken that to heart, and try to get the best value for my money.  It’s the same reason why I tend to avoid a lot of the stores that specialize in adult items.  Most of those stores seem to only pay lip service to fetish, as those items are often cheaply made and overpriced – just like Spencer’s – plus they feel seedy.  While there are a few exceptions (Comfort Zone in College Park comes to mind), most of those stores are just not worth patronizing.