Shelly Sandau Displays Versatility at Lion’s Den Superstores
His colleagues call him “Mr. Fix-It.” Shelly Sandau calls himself “a man of many hats.”
Currently, the versatile veteran of the Lion’s Den Adult Superstores runs the DVD warehouse, handles sales and marketing and also oversees the purchasing team of the heavyweight retail chain based in Columbus, Ohio.
A member of the XBIZ Retail Expo & Conference Advisory Board, Sandau humbly says he became an integral part of the Lion’s Den “kind of by accident.”
“We were living in Europe and we also have a house in New York, and I started with Lion’s Den six years ago just as a part-time job. I was a clerk at Store 26 in Ripley, N.Y. I loved the job and so my wife went back to Europe and I stayed back to work in the store,” Sandau explains. “I was there two years and then I got a call that they wanted me to come down to Columbus. They wanted me to run the flagship store — Store 1. So I came down and ran it for 10 months and was very successful doing that. They called me Mr. Fix-It. When someone needed something fixed at a store, then I’d go to that store. I did that for five months, and then became Area Sales Manager for 13 stores. I’m still an Area Manager, but then I took on a sales and marketing role and did them both for about a year. And then probably right about two years ago [CEO Michael Moran] asked me to also take over the warehouse and the purchasing team.”
Sandau, a native of S. Dakota, brought an extensive professional background to the Lion’s Den, not to mention some international flair.
“In Europe I had worked on the military bases as a merchandiser for Procter & Gamble and prior to going to Europe, I was national sales manager for a truck body manufacturer for the beverage industry,” Sandau says. “We did trucks and tractor trailers for the beverage industry. Prior to that, I was sales manager for a big Miller [beer] distributor in Colorado.”
Sandau tells XBIZ he met the Lion’s Den founder Moran in person in March 2006 and began to form a strong impression of him.
“I can tell you I’ve never worked for someone I enjoyed working for as much as him, and I don’t stick with a job unless I absolutely love it,” Sandau says. “It’s just who he is, it’s just how he is. He’s got a heart as big as all outdoors. He always wants to help people. Every chance he gets he wants to help people.”
Sandau continues, “We probably pay the best for retail clerks of anybody out there other than Nordstrom’s. Our clerks get an hourly wage plus commissions so some of our clerks are making $15-$16 an hour.”
Sandau says nowadays Lion’s Den is selling “more lubes and lotions and massage oils.”
“And of course we’re always adding to our toys. We’re getting more high-end toys in,” he says. “We actually sold more units of DVDs last year than we did the year before. We’re getting better prices and we’re selling them cheaper. It’s still 40 percent of our business. Five years ago 60 percent was DVDs and 40 percent was soft goods. Now it’s flipflopped.”
Given his range of responsibilities, Sandau, who works out of the Lion’s Den headquarters, says that every day his focus may be something different.
“I kind of decide that day. There are a lot of days all you do is put out fires,” he says. “I’m constantly thinking of different promotions we can run and different advertising media we can use and what works best for us. ... Our best bang for our buck comes with radio blitzes.”