Sunday, July 14, 2024

There’s a new kid on the Christmas-market block

Warning: She is not selling cookies

Camilla Faragalli
Pontiac Dec. 1, 2023
Amidst the various assortments of muffins and mittens at an average local Christmas market, Samantha Renaud’s table stands out.
Renaud is the owner of Pontiac Pleasure, a new local business that she describes as “a service for the Pontiac, for people to have access to the sexy side of life.”
She has been making the rounds of this year’s Christmas markets, using them as an opportunity to connect with the Pontiac community.
On her tables, lacy lingerie is arranged around smooth-looking, brightly coloured objects: sex toys.
In addition to a vast catalogue of adult toys at discounted prices, Renaud offers one-on-one consultations for individuals and couples, both in conjunction with her toy sales and as a separate service.
Renaud, who moved to the Pontiac in the fall, said that more than questions about her products, she encounters people asking about “process, body, and confidence.”
Renaud has certifications in nutrition and fitness, cognitive behavioural therapy and neuro-linguistic programming.
“People are going to come to an expert for a variety of things. I spend a lot of time teaching my entire background while showing someone a sex toy,” she said.
“Sex is part of the human experience. When people walk away from you, and they have valuable knowledge, you know you’ve improved their human experience. It’s the type of impact that could last a lifetime.”
The market experience
Renaud said that so far, the reception to her at local markets has been mixed.
“There are two types of people,” she said. “There are people that are ashamed of sex. They act like I don’t exist, they turn their back, look away. But then you have other people who realize what I’m doing and are just super excited, grab their husband or wife and say, ‘let’s go talk to this lady!’,” she said.
Renaud explained she does not display her full stock at all-ages events.
“I have a sign that lets people know I’m here with an 18+ business, and I do have some ‘surprise bags’ that will definitely catch the eye, and tell people what I might have,” she said.
“But there’s not enough information for a child to figure [it] out.”
According to Renaud, her “major demographic” to date in the Pontiac has been “husbands looking to make their wives happier,” which she said was a pleasant surprise.
“You know you’re making an impact on people instantly, you can tell by their reaction,” she said, adding that most often, people will take her card and call her after the fact, “when they’ve sort of worked out why they’re shy.”
Renaud acknowledged that she understands it will take time to build trust with people in the community.
“I don’t have a family line here, I didn’t go to school here with everybody,” she said. “It’s a completely different relationship when you’re the new kid in town, suddenly going, ‘Oh hey I’m new, and I have a sex toy business – now, don’t be shy!’.”
Renaud also acknowledged the issue of privacy.
“The Pontiac, though large by geographic area, is small by population, and everyone really does know each other,” she said.
“I want you to have privacy in your private life,” she added, emphasizing that she maintains complete confidentiality of her client list and will not even say hello to clients if she sees clients in public.
Renaud said that she is averaging at least a couple inquiries a week via email for one-on-one consults.
“Considering that I’m just starting up, that’s actually phenomenal,” she said.
Helping people enjoy their bodies
Pontiac Pleasure has only been operational for about seven weeks, but Renaud said she has worked in the industry for about 15 years, including a six-year stint at the Adult Fun Superstore in Ottawa.
“I took it really seriously. I was constantly reading books, constantly educating myself with anything I could get my hands on,” she said.
“After that, I was kind of in and out because I wanted to try different careers, but I’ve never let go of it,” she added.
“It’s sort of been a security-blanket of a career. It never goes out of business.”
Renaud said that though “sex sells,” what makes a business like hers successful is something more complex.
“We all want to have sex, we all want to feel good, feel sexy,” she said.
“But that doesn’t come from a toy or a piece of lingerie. That comes from how we feel about ourselves; from confidence.”
Renaud said that one of her personal goals is to help people be healthier, “both inside and outside.”
“People should be able to enjoy their bodies,” she added.
Renaud said that while she had originally planned on focusing Pontiac Pleasure on in-person sales, after a few months in the area she has realized an online storefront would be better suited to matching local customers’ needs.
She hopes to launch this online store in the next few weeks.