‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Sparks Surprising Retail Boom — Dollars and Sense
The juggernaut known as ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ hasn’t just been a boon for its publisher — the bondage-themed erotic novel has also brought a welcome surge of business to sex toy shops, clothing retailers and even hardware stores.
Why hardware stores? They sell rope, of course — including the smaller, softer nylon type that’s comfortable in the bedroom.
“Oh, we’ve been selling rope to women,” says Clifton Kahn, owner of New York City’s Lexington Hardware. “I’d say tenfold more rope than usual in the last six months. The women are definitely buying, and it’s still continuing.”
Sex shop Babeland reports visits to the bondage section of its web site have spiked 81 percent in the past few months, with many customers buying items like riding crops and handcuffs. “You’d be surprised to see how very ordinary these people are who are coming in,” said Babeland co-founder Claire Cavanah. “The book is just an explosion of permission for them to try something new in the bedroom.”
Even staid retailer Brooks Brothers is getting in on the action, selling a line of neckties like the ones worn by the kinky Christian Grey in ‘Fifty Shades.’
“The book broke down a wall,” said one reader. “I mean, it’s so terribly written — it makes ‘Twilight’ read like Shakespeare — but you can’t put it down. You can’t stop thinking about it.”