Silent Items on Store Shelves: An exploratory research on sexual health products in Laredo, Texas
Abstract: Products related to sexual health and wellness are vital to keep us safe and healthy sexually. In Laredo, Texas, 14 local stores were examined to explore how Laredo stores treated, placed, and promoted sexual health and wellness related products. The researcher visited all Laredo locations of H-E-B Grocery Store, Walmart, and Walgreens Pharmacy over the course of two weekends, which are located all over the city, taking care to note where these products were located in the store, how they were arranged on the shelves, the variety of products available, as well as noting anything appearing to be out of place or different at each location. Most of the stores were fairly similar in how the products were arranged and sold within the stores, as well as the varieties of products available, but significant differences at one store and small differences between the others may be indicative of preferential treatment between some areas of the city and others. It may be possible to suggest a geographical difference in how these stores treated products related to sexual health, though all of the stores fit into one of two trends: placing these items in areas of high visibility (where those who may find the purchase of such items shameful or embarrassing may feel uncomfortable), or in areas that seemed to be unobtrusive and easy to miss. Potential implications of the treatment of these products is discussed, in hopes of encouraging discourse about the ways in which product placement communicates societal attitudes on sexual health and wellness.
Melinda Lee Downie*
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