Maximizing Every Square Foot

Adriana Rosales
With the recession and innovations in technology affecting the ways consumers shop, traditional brick-and-mortar adult retail stores not only are offering more of a variety of products at different price points, but also are employing new store layout methods and marketing techniques, mixed in with the customary, in order to attract visitors and “flow” them throughout the store.

Most adult retail stores now offer an assortment of products besides movies, magazines and sex toys.

Excitement Video owner David Betesh said 10 years ago his store carried nothing but DVDs. Betesh calls it a natural transition that customers are moving away from physical media. The breakdown of his stores’ offerings is 60 percent movies, 25 percent novelty and the remaining floor space is dedicated to magazines and miscellaneous items.

While many attribute the inclusion of such items as compensation to the decline of DVDs, Amazing Superstore’s Adam Bassignani said the company has embraced new technology by offering GoFlix — an adult response to Netflix — owned by parent company Metro Content.

“Physical DVDs are not going out of style,” Bassignani said, “but if a consumer can’t find what he is looking for in-store, he’s going to go online.”

To cater to the picky DVD shopper, Bassignani said Amazing Superstore carries titles that are more “selective." He added that DVDs make up about 40- to 50-percent of each Amazing Superstore locations’ offerings. The DVDs are organized according to niche regardless of studio.

“We want our customers to find what they want, whether it’s a particular performer or niche, all in one shot,” Bassignani said.

Betesh agrees that it is important for customers to be able to go straight to the DVD genres of their preference. Rentals at Excitement are arranged accordingly, however sellthrough DVDs in the store are arranged based on price points first.

“Price points include $10, $15 and $20 DVDs,” he said, “then we went a step further and categorized according to niche.”

Leyton Croxdale, Peekay Inc. director of inventory, said while sharpening DVD promotions and product offerings, the company has seen very little decline in DVD sales.

“Our selection offered is basically the same, just with a smaller amount of units per item than may have been available in the past but lots of little orders to keep it fresh and in stock,” he said. “We are continuing to monitor this department closely.”

At Peekay, DVDs are displayed in wire wall racks, face out, with about 10 percent floor space displays consisting of H-shaped units.

At Hustler Hollywood stores, Claudia Beaton, director of retail operations, noted the challenge in maximizing DVD sales these days, however by monitoring customers’ tastes, the company is able to accommodate them.

“We are keeping focused on bringing in the top production companies that are offering those genres and titles that are bringing our customers back.”

Bassignani said he sees the effects of recession through the vast sales of the cheap bachelor/bachelorette party supplies that Amazing carries. Another popular recession buster: male enhancement products. Bassignani said Amazing has expanded such products’ shelf space to accommodate their popularity.

“There is definitely a growing market for these products.” Betesh said Excitement Video, for years, wary of any health problems associated, avoided offering male enhancement products, however the “Viagra-craze” set off the popularity of nonprescription products that are more affordable and appealing to a growing demographic of consumers with a modest income.

Peekay stocks sexual performance enhancement products in its gift department, which also carries lubes, lotions and potions.

Lingerie also is taking up a growing amount of floor space at several adult retail stores. Bassignani said that out of at least five of the chain’s 33 stores, lingerie generates the most traffic and 24-foot sections are dedicated to the product.

“We have over 100 box styles to choose from offered by about five different vendors,” Bassignani said. “Our customers want quick and easy items they could wear a few times and then discard.”

Peekay devotes the largest amount of space in its stores to lingerie. “We have always had a strong soft presence,” Croxdale said.

Hustler-branded lingerie is a top-seller among the company’s offerings and is allotted a large space in each store to showcase the products, Beaton said.

As far as marketing techniques, Bassignani said crossmerchandising isn’t included in store layout. Employees are expected to upsell with complimenting products.

“Interaction with customers is important for crossmarketing,” he said, “A sales associate should recommend the best products to use with a customer’s purchase. That encourages them to return.”

Croxdale said customer service is the most important factor in a satisfactory shopping experience — so much so that the store is laid out revolving around it.

“We have a center counter space that our associates can easily see customers browsing and assist them from,” Croxdale said. “We pride ourselves for our training and our sales associates are passionate about what they do.”

Betesh sticks to a customary form of cross-merchandising: placing gay sex toys near gay movies with lube products nearby.

“Testers also are part of a satisfactory shopping experience,” Bassignani said. An unpackaged product for shoppers to test ensures that they are getting what they want. Testers at Excitement Video are reserved for store locations with more couples and women visitors, Betesh added. Testers can break the ice for apprehensive shoppers as well.

“It has been a beneficial tool that we utilize in all our stores in order to demystify the products and add an educational element to the whole in-store experience,” Beaton said about Hustler Hollywood’s utilization of the technique.

The general layout of an adult store seems to remain according to custom — soft products in the front, hard stuff in the back.

Betesh said the front of the store contains products that won’t offend a conservative visitor — party items, magazines and male enhancement products, which are already available in most convenience stores, are displayed in the front, not only because of tolerability but also to prevent theft.

Betesh calls the front of the store a valuable area that can ease a timid shopper into the store.

“The layout then takes visitors through the softcore DVDS to storyline and couples movies,” Betesh said. “The hardcore, gay and tranny DVDs are in the back to prevent any discomfort.”

Bassignani said Amazing stocks products that are couples-friendly, nationally promoted household names in the front to give an inviting, safe impression of the store. The back of the store is reserved for products aimed towards a well-seasoned adult product shopper. He said a store’s layout is what attracts a new customer, while regular customers will feel comfortable going straight for what they want.

“A new shopper will venture to the back of the store ‘if they dare,’” he said.

Bassignani added that lighting also plays a part in a pleasant adult shopping experience. “A well-lit store with track lighting gives customers the feeling of a friendly, welcoming place and appeals to new customers.”

Beaton describes a certain “experience” — that encompasses the store staff, product and presentation — that greets customers as they enter.

“There’s an open, airy and light feel to our aesthetic and we like to bring the element of natural light into our environments so our customers feel comfortable and not confined,” she said. “The layout has to be inviting and offers a natural flow leading our customers from one enticing area to the next with ease and without clutter.” She calls the lighting, fixtures and displays “a silent sales staff ” because of the effect it has on a customer’s shopping experience.

Bearing an established name in adult, Beaton said allows the store to be arranged in a distinctive manner.

“When you have been in business for as long as we have it becomes second nature in understanding your customer base and what it is that makes them excited to come back and shop with us; so there no science to it, just the desire to only carry the ‘best of the best’ as far as all our products from our Hustler Lingerie to our new Hustler Toys.”

Croxdale referred to procedures such as providing testers, cross-merchandising on fixtures and lighting as basic retail merchandising concepts that are all employed by Peekay. Square footage within departments is allocated by sales volume. Simple things like placing the best sellers at eye level are techniques that Peekay employs.

Another marketing technique Peekay employs is displaying seasonal promotions lasting approximately three months, Croxdale said.

Hustler Hollywood also emphasizes new product arrivals. “We like to keep our merchandising fresh and opt to change the layout as often as every six to eight weeks with the flow of new goods,” Beaton said.


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