When talking of sex — and the Dutch do that a lot! — one cannot ignore the practice of safe sex, consent and open-mindedness. It is no wonder, then, that the first speciality condom shop in the world originated in… you guessed it! Amsterdam!

As we know, there are many niche and novelty concepts and ideas that originated in Amsterdam. The famous Red Light District in De Walletjes is synonymous with the culture of experimentation and barrier-breaking of the Netherland’s capital city.

As the leader of sexual liberty, Amsterdam opened the world’s first shop dedicated solely to all things condoms in 1987. On a Saturday in May, 34 years ago, the Dutch media set the stage for the worldwide attention centred on the first condom speciality store in the world. As if this store wasn’t ground-breaking in itself, this shop was opened by two women!

Amsterdam’s first condom shop — opened by women!

The idea to open this novelty store was born in a restaurant in Amsterdam, around which discussions about the AIDS pandemic were literally the talk of the town. Since the early 1980s, stigmas and insecurities surrounding the deadly virus caused a new infatuation with safe sex.

Although condoms were available in pharmacies and sex shops, there was no choice of useful, informative and easily-accessible information. And so, on an April evening in 1987, Riddle Marijke, Ricky Janssen and Theodoor van Boven made the decision to challenge the stigma and implement the idea of a shop dedicated solely to safe sex. Thus, Condomerie was coined.

No judgement

The philosophy of Condomerie is, ultimately, that safe sex is not a compromise and can be just as exciting and fulfilling as unprotected sex. The AIDS virus, and other sexually transmitted diseases, don’t discriminate on race, sex or status. To this day, Condomerie is committed to an atmosphere of acceptance and “service with a smile.”

In addition to offering tested condoms, the Condomerie also offers fun and fantasy condoms along with advice, and an environment of “no judgement.” Not only does this store offer a safe space in which patrons can explore and inquire (the staff even advise on condom sizes and ask about personal preferences!) but it also, naturally, breaks the taboo of sex which accompanies many international visitors.

Sex happens, even during lockdown

Condomerie’s physical store is decorated with fun, tongue-in-cheek and exotic art and illustrations. They even have a section dedicated to “Lockdown Love,” with humorous posters on their doors promoting their quirky take on the pandemic regulations. One such sign reminds passers-by that “inside, you must wear a face mask and in bed…wear a condom!”

Condomerie’s online webstore offers choices of flavoured condoms, ribbed condoms or glow in the dark condoms under the tab “Serious Fun.” As if this is not an enticing enough reason to visit the online store, custom condoms are also available for order and come with instructions for measuring the penis.

In evolving with the times, Condomerie has also taken to social media to ensure that the world’s first condom shop remains the most inviting. The Condomerie Instagram Page keeps up to date with the politics, weather, and trends of the day with humorous anecdotes and advice.

Along with quirky illustrations and dirty-humour sayings like “our favourite quarantine activity is going (lock)down”, they also provide information on latex allergies, debunk condom-related myths and, most importantly, invite open, interactive discussions around sexuality and safety.