CORNER BROOK — “I need a set of them silver balls that’s in that book.”
That’s a line Peggy Antle hears almost daily at work.
As manager of Our Pleasure on West Street, Antle says it’s not unusual for customers to request certain items.
But since spring, a lot more men have been requesting items for their ladies. And, there’s a lot of ladies buying silver balls for themselves, she said.
The balls are kegel balls, and the book is “Fifty Shades of Grey” by British author, E.L. James
Since the best-selling erotic trilogy gained popularity in May, Antle has not been able to keep kegel balls in stock.
In the novels, a dominant male carries out his sexual bondage fetishes with his submissive female partner.
Antle said kegel balls have been around for years, and are often doctor-recommended for women to strengthen pelvic muscles.
In the book the balls are used to arouse — and it seems people want in on the action.
In her three years as manager, Antle has not had this much difficulty getting stock for any item she sells — be it lubrication or lingerie.
She can’t estimate how many kegel ball sets she’s sold, but they usually don’t last a day.
Antle has been almost two months trying to get more kegel balls from her suppliers, with a steadily growing wait list next to the cash register.
The problem is, her seven-or-so suppliers can’t get them either.
“It was to the point where the suppliers were calling me and saying ‘we don’t have any left’.”
But it’s not just this city that’s hard up, Antle said. The chain’s five other provincial stores are selling out too, especially on the east coast.
Kegel balls are not the only hot seller. Other items mentioned in the novel have also become a novelty.
Our Pleasure stores saw the need to supply customers with the main toys in the books, so they put together kits that included: a little leather whip, blindfold, handcuffs, nipple clamps, mini vibrator, butt plug and kegel balls.
But with inventory at a low, Antle’s store could only get enough items to make 10 kits. And, there was a wait list for them before any of the stock was even available.
“I stopped at one of the gas bars the other day,” she said. “And a lady said ‘are they in yet?’”
Antle suspects the books have done wonders for heterosexual couples in the area, and elsewhere.
“All of a sudden sex is a good thing,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be kegel ball ... all of a sudden using a toy to enhance their sexual experience isn’t a bad things anymore.”
Most of the couples that enter her store looking for the ‘Fifty Shades’ toys are in their 30s or older, ranging to senior couples.
“I find it’s more of the mature couples, that have been together a while and are looking for something to spice things up,” Antle said. “Trying little things, to make things happier.”
She said she sees hesitation on people’s faces when they first cross the door step of her store. But it seems, the novel’s steamy plot has gotten people out of their comfort zone and locked in the bedroom.
“People are afraid to try things (at first),” she said. “But they usually come back the second time ... and the third time.”
The local sexual-health shop is not the only business that has been run off its feet with the Fifty Shades phenomenon.
Like Twilight for teens
Lynn Gillam, manager of Coles book store in the Corner Brook Plaza, said erotica sales have been “on fire.”
“Every second customer in line has ‘Fifty Shades ...’ or something similar in their hand,” she said.
At its peak, the store would put 98 copies of a title on the shelf and by suppertime it would be sold out.
In the past three months, Gillam said the store sold 3,500 hard copies of one of the titles, or the box set.
Gillam says this genre of novels is doing for adults, what the Twilight saga did for teens.
“It’s creating a bunch of whole new readers. They’re buying the book and say ‘I don’t even read’,” Gillam said. “Not only women of all ages are reading it, even some men are reading it.”
The trilogy are not the only books leaving the store’s shelves bare.
Gillam said other erotic literature is picking up, such as Sylvia Day’s “Bared To You” that centres around a woman’s obsession with a man.
That novel was published before the others, but only gained staggering popularity after the “Fifty Shades” series was released.