Edward Wheeler opened The Love Store in Las Vegas in 2011 with the goal of offering adult customers a luxurious and upscale retail environment. The Love Store has since expanded into three Sin City locations ranging from 7,000 to 12,5000 square feet. The Love Store’s unique shopping experience is helping Wheeler and his team find success while many competitors are having difficulty negotiating the industry’s increasingly more challenging landscape.
Recently XBIZ had a chance to talk with the president of The Love Store, Edward Wheeler, to get the inside scoop on realizing his successful and fast-growing retail vision.
I believe that over the next few years that the playing field between brick and mortar stores and Internet-based businesses will even out.
XBIZ: What is The Love Store?
Edward Wheeler: The Love Store is a mainstream boutique for grownups. Our company was founded in 1999 and rebranded under “The Love Store” in 2011. We currently have three locations in Las Vegas with plans on opening in other major cities in 2015.
XBIZ: Why is The Love Store different?
Wheeler: Our staff! Our staff is truly what makes The Love Store experience so memorable. They go above and beyond to help make every customer feel comfortable. The Love Store dedicates a lot of time into training and educating of our staff. Also, a major component is our mainstream approach to doing business. Today’s consumer expects quality products, a clean environment, and good customer service as well as easy-to-understand return and exchange policies. The days of no returns or exchanges are long gone. People expect to be able to return products that they are not satisfied with … yes, even some toys! Retailers need to provide their customers with the same type of service and policies that they would expect to receive when they shop at mainstream retail businesses.
XBIZ: In Las Vegas there are already several adult stores, so why is there a need for another?
Wheeler: We like to think of ourselves as an upscale and tasteful place for grownups to shop. Our stores range from 7,000 to over 12,000 square feet and offer extensive selections of romance-influenced products like footwear, lingerie, novelties and more. We carry a large selection of products that aren’t typically found at adult stores. All the products that enter our stores are handpicked and are looked over from the quality aspect, price point to the packaging. Truly, our main focus is about improving relationships and that’s not just about sex toys. That involves educating staff and introducing new products to consumers looking to improve things in the bedroom. Being sexy is about feeling sexy … from head to toe.
XBIZ: Demographically speaking, who are your customers?
Wheeler: Our typical customer ranges from late 20s well into their 60s; blue collar and white collar; straight to gay and everyone in between. There is a decrease in single men but a huge increase in women and couples. Also, we’re seeing a major increase in our lesbian clientele.
XBIZ: How do you keep customers coming back to The Love Store?
Wheeler: Creative marketing and branding are very important components of our company and irreplaceable tools to attract new customers. Our mainstream approach to doing business, creates a friendly and inviting shopping atmosphere for both first timers and our repeat clientele. Most of our customers have had negative experiences in the past when it comes to shopping for romance products. They are usually embarrassed that they might be seen by a friend or neighbor, they often feel the need to park in the rear of the building…but it’s quite the opposite at The Love Store.
It’s become a very hip place to shop and we regularly have local celebrities and professionals browsing our stores without any worries of being spotted or recognized. We have designed our stores to have a modern and mainstream feel from great lighting to seating areas to immaculate restrooms… or maybe it’s the free fresh baked cookies and Hershey Kisses! Again, we invest a lot of time and money into educating our staff. Education and training has been one the main reasons that our company has become such a success.
XBIZ: What does a three-store chain think of pleasure products e-commerce in general?
Wheeler: We really don’t worry ourselves too much about e-commerce. We definitely get our share of individuals that browse our stores and then purchase their items online. We treat and educate them the same as any other customer. The day might come when they have a bad online experience and will remember what a friendly and educational experience they had with us. Online shopping for intimate products can be very confusing for novices. Will I need lubricant? How does this item work? How does the charger work? What if I don’t like the product? Our goal is to provide everyone that walks through our doors with a learning experience… whether they make a purchase or not.
I believe that over the next few years that the playing field between brick and mortar stores and Internet-based businesses will even out. Quality manufacturers who are in this for the long run will find the need to protect their brand’s value and start to enforce pricing agreements. The bottom line e-commerce will never be able to fulfill the needs for the impulse buyers who want their products now — and in this business that accounts for a large percentage!
XBIZ: Tell us about The Love Store’s Love Party service.
Wheeler: Each of our locations has a luxurious party room designed to hold our Love Parties. Love Parties were created to educate women and couples while having fun. Our knowledgeable staff gives everyone the opportunity to educate themselves and experience sensual products in a private and comfortable atmosphere.
XBIZ: How does The Love Store utilize social media to generate customers/sales?
Wheeler: Social media is a tool to help us keep our brand in front of our customers. We typically use it to post humor, articles or to keep them informed of our special events.
XBIZ: What do you anticipate the future of adult retail will be like in two years?
Wheeler: I expect that the typical adult store will be a thing of the past at least in major U.S. cities and the mainstream type of boutiques will be the future of the industry.
XBIZ: What are your bestselling products?
Wheeler: As far as novelties, it is definitely the designer products — companies that understand the current trends of the industry and that today’s consumer is willing to pay a premium for one-of-a-kind products, good quality, great packaging and warranties.
XBIZ: How is The Love Store preparing for “Fifty Shades of Grey?”
Wheeler: We have plans on changing some of our marketing campaigns and strategies as well as our store decor to incorporate the Fifty Shades vibe. Apart from that, we will be doing the same thing as we do every day.
XBIZ: Any community events The Love Store takes part in?
Wheeler: Yes, we try to stay very active in our community and are always looking for ways to give back. We just rose over $4,500 in less than 24 hours for two fallen Las Vegas police officers and are always open to sponsoring events in the local community.
XBIZ: Are there plans for expansion beyond Vegas?
Wheeler: We are currently in growth mode with plans on opening other locations in other major cities in 2015 - 2016.