Laughs and gasps at Granny’s “After Dark” sale

Editor’s note: This article discusses human sexuality.

As the winter sun set, dozens lined up outside Granny’s Attic — giggling, swapping jokes and peering through the windows.

At the entrance stood store manager Barry Cooper, armed with a whip and a grin, tasked with keeping minors out.

“Crowd control,” Cooper described it, with a flick of the whip.

The evening was, of course, no ordinary shopping experience at island thrift store Granny’s Attic. Friday, Feb. 2 was the first “After Dark” sale at the thrift store in four years, drawing islanders to shop for donated lingerie, handcuffs, whips, and all manner of other pre-used adult items.

“We’re looking at four years of donations,” said Granny’s executive director Brian Vescovi.

Browsing patrons sought birthday presents, joke gifts, and items for personal use, sifting through erotic art of the female form, plug-in and battery-powered “massage” wands, naughty games, handcuffs, costumes, condoms, an enigmatic donut-shaped soap bar called the “weener kleener,” and many other kinky and slightly shopworn accouterments which The Beachcomber cannot describe without being obscene.

“Darling! Make love to me — this instant!” read one home-decorated plate for sale. A piece of wood was affixed with a pillow, on which was written “GRANDMA’S Spanking Stick.” A hat for sale simply exclaimed “GAY!,” punctuated by a phallus-shaped exclamation mark.

Alex Bruell Photo
All sorts of anxieties about aging bodies are written on a doll for sale at Granny’s.

Alex Bruell Photo All sorts of anxieties about aging bodies are written on a doll for sale at Granny’s.

The Beachcomber spoke with patrons at the sale, using only their initials and gender-neutral pronouns to protect their privacy.

Shopper K.Y. said they were hooked by Granny’s “See what your neighbors are up to” marketing tagline, and “had to know.”

“This is a little overwhelming,” K.Y. said. “This is a lot more people than I think I’ve ever seen in Granny’s at once, which is actually really awesome.”

Their basket had mostly mugs, and even a picture of beloved Presbyterian minister and children’s television host Mr. Rogers, photoshopped to be flipping his middle finger.

Many items on sale provoked strong emotions — including fear, curiosity and amusement — from shoppers.

“God,” K.Y. said, inspecting an intimidatingly large silicone recreation of the human phallus. “It’s cherry-scented. I think that’s the worst part for me.”

Shopper D.P. had selected a pair of handcuffs, plates adorned with adult imagery and a game of adult charades. Like other patrons, the sale had provoked an innately human fascination for D.P., who said they were curious to see what bedroom devices had been donated.

“Sex … it’s the root of the human condition,” D.P. said.

While the risqué, “slightly edgy” nature of the sale obviously drew people in, Vescovi said that the nature of Granny’s mission — funding charitable causes on the island — is a big part of why it was successful.

And “it’s still Vashon,” Vescovi said. “It’s still the community, and it’s still a level of trust that what’s here is safe — and who is here is also safe.”