Today many students’ minds will be busy buying last minute chocolates and flowers for that special someone, but if they’re looking for a different type of gift for their sweetheart, they might want to head to the S3 Safe Sex Store on South University Avenue.
S3 plans on distributing a free condom and sample lubrication packet with every purchase at the store as part of National Condom Week, which runs from Feb. 14 to Feb. 21. The event aims to educate customers about safe sex and condom usage.
“Any national campaign of safer sex we try to get involved with and promote as much as possible,” said Erica Karmeisool, S3 store manager.
In past years, the store received condoms from its distributors to hand out during the week. But this year, S3 was contacted directly by Durex condoms representatives and partnered with the company to help promote that brand of condoms during National Condom Week.
“We have participated in National Condom Week in the past, and we spread education about condom usage and storage as well as information about the individual brands and how they compare to each other,” Karmeisool said.
Karmeisool said Durex prioritizes the consumer’s safety, just like the store.
“The store was actually founded on the idea of distributing safe and reliable sexual health information and products that we feel are the best choices for our customers,” she said. “That has always been the mission of the store. The information is equal, if not more important, to the products that we sell.”
BethAnn Karmeisool, the president of BAK Inc., S3’s corporate parent, came up with the idea of opening the store after she volunteered with children infected with HIV/AIDS, mostly due to HIV-infected procreating through unprotected sex.
“She saw that the problem was that information wasn’t getting out to people as it should be,” Erica Karmeisool said. “Her vision was to create a retail store where we don’t have to tailor information based on political views. A place where we can actually distribute information that is relevant to our customers.”
S3 condones safe sex practices and wants to be sure that its customers know all the necessary information. On its website for example, the store also has a section devoted to condom information.
“If they have a pleasant experience using condoms they will continue to do so, which increases safety and decreases risk,” Karmeisool said.
Karmeisool said the timing is perfect for the awareness week. It’s right after Valentine’s Day, when sexual health is on the mind and right before spring break, when S3 usually sees an spike in condom sales.
“Our outlook is anticipating more people purchasing condoms, which opens the door to distribute safety information,” Karmeisool said. “We will have signs out on the streets to help promote National Condom Week. Even if people just stop in to ask about it, the hope is that it will lead to further conversation.”