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From Sex Shops To Supermarkets: A journalist who launched a magazine for the sex toy industry from an office in Cwmbran has written a book about his two decades in the sector

A man who started the only UK-based trade magazine for the sex toy industry from an office in Cwmbran has written a book about his experiences.

Dale Bradford launched Erotic Trade Only, a magazine for retailers of sex toys and pleasure products, in 2003. It stopped as a printed magazine in March 2022 and is now online where he continues to write as a freelance contributor. He has just published From Sex Shops To Supermarkets: How Adult Toys Became A Multi-Billion-Pound Industry

The book’s description is: “With almost every major UK supermarket now devoting shelf space to adult toys, From Sex Shops To Supermarkets chronicles the phenomenal growth of the sector, and how mainstream television, cinema, and celebrities have rushed to embrace it. The book explains how sex shops have evolved over the last two decades and reports on the mainstream retailers who have tried to muscle in on the market. It also shines the spotlight on the celebs who have contributed to the gentrification of sex toys, looks back at the Fifty Shades phenomenon, and highlights some of the industry’s most innovative products.”

A chance conversation with a business owner next to his office in Cwmbran led to Dale spending two decades reporting on the industry and interviewing the people behind multi-billion pound companies like Love Honey.

a basket of fruit and some sex toys

Dale said: “I was the co-founder of Soft Centre, the computer game shop in Cwmbran town centre. I started writing about computers for magazines, newspapers, and a Welsh-language television programme. I was really enjoying it.

“My business partner bought me out in 1994 and I ended up working for Amiga Format magazine in Bath. When I was there I had the opportunity to take over a newsletter aimed at computer game retailers. I turned it into a magazine by having it professionally printed, expanding its distribution, and seeking advertising.

“I ran that for several years and then sold it to one of my biggest competitors. My office was in one of the units opposite Cwmbran Stadium.”

And this is where a chat with a nearby business owner in the same block led to a career change.

He said: “A fellow tenant saw I had a digital camera and asked me if I could take photos of his stock. I said ‘yeah, I can do that’. I went into his unit and it was full of sex toys. He had 1,800 items! I asked why he couldn’t get photos from suppliers or the sector’s magazine. But there wasn’t a magazine for the sector. So that’s how. we started the magazine.

“We wrote about what retailers were doing, their concerns, and introducing them to new suppliers and products. I moved from that unit to one on Llantarnam Industrial Estate and then to Mamhilad Park Estate. During lockdown I was editing the magazine from home.

“Brexit was disastrous for us. We sent the magazine to shops and suppliers across the US, Australia and European countries including France, Holland, Germany and Spain. Every year we had an exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham but exhibitors became reluctant to attend as the UK was no longer as attractive, post-Brexit.

“When we left the single market it caused problems with the cost of postage and we had retailers being charged 15 euros when their magazine was delivered to them.

“The magazine’s last edition was in March 2022 but now we do it online and have an email newsletter.

“I started to write a book set in Cwmbran. But my daughter said why don’t you write about something that only you know about? So I wrote this book about the last two decades of my work in this sector.”

Why isn’t there an Ann Summers shop in Cwmbran?

Cwmbran has over 50,000 residents and a large shopping centre.

Dale said: “It’s always amazed me that there isn’t an Ann Summers in Cwmbran. Maybe I should open an Ann Summers-style shop in Cwmbran. But it’s not as easy as it sounds, as I explain in the first chapter of the book (which can be read online free via Amazon’s look inside feature).”

Buy the book

You can buy the book in paperback (£9.99) and ebook (£4.99).

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From Sex Shops To Supermarkets: A journalist who launched a magazine for the sex toy industry from an office in Cwmbran has written a book about his two decades in the sector

a basket of fruit and some sex toys
The front cover of From Sex Shops To Supermarkets: How Adult Toys Became A Multi-Billion-Pound Industry