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Target, Walmart enter sex toy market, sell vibrators

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

You can buy just about anything at Target and Walmart: groceries, toothbrushes, light bulbs -  vibrators?

CBS 5 News found several "intimate massagers" mixed in with condoms and lubricants, right across from feminine hygiene, at a Target store in Ahwatukee.

"Hey, why not?" asked Target shopper Allen Freeman. "It's convenience, you know? Somebody's in here and they want to get some cereal; why not buy a vibrator with it? They might have a deal."

Other shoppers worry about families with children who might walk down the aisle.

"If they have a kid there, and the kid sees them, they'll probably start asking questions about it," said Target shopper Alex Dickerson.

Walmart sells a $59 vibrator on its website, though CBS 5 News couldn't find one at its Tempe store on Elliott Road.

A closer look at the website notes the vibrators aren't sold in Phoenix-area Walmart stores.

But, you can buy the personal product online and have it shipped to your home.

One father of two who shops at Wal-Mart said he doesn't like the idea of sex toys being sold at what has traditionally been a family store.

"You need to leave that at Fascinations, or adult stores, for stuff like that," he said.

Fascinations, your local "romance superstore," said it is not worried about the two giant retailers cutting into their business.

In fact, they just might boost interest.

"What it does do is expose the marketplace, which is fantastic for us," said Jessica Phillips, manager of Fascination's flagship store on Elliott Road in Tempe. "To find that we're not something you put behind closed doors in America; that we're embracing our sexual health as a mode of wellness for all of us, I think is a wonderful thing."

Jason Rose, with the Valley's Rose+Moser+Allyn Public & Online Relations, thinks Walmart and especially Target are on to something smart.

He points out many of their female shoppers are also likely readers of the wildly-popular book series Fifty Shades of Grey - commonly referred to as "mommy porn."

"I think they'll challenge their brand slightly," he said. "But it's about bringing in more customers than they lose. And I think they win at the end of the day."

Rose predicts the number and variety of sex toys sold at stores like Target and Walmart will grow.

And, that's OK with at least one mother CBS 5 News spoke with.

"I am fine with it," said Walmart and Target shopper Sheri Ware. "Maybe some people aren't as open-minded, a little more uptight?"

CBS 5 News put in calls and emails to both Target and Walmart to answer questions about why they decided to sell these intimate items, how long they've been doing so and whether there are age restrictions in place.

So far, neither company has responded.

Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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