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JT's Stockroom

Anne Winter
Adult fetish retailer JT's Stockroom is arguably the oldest sex toy company on the Internet — its store was online back when the World Wide Web was merely a sparkle in the eyes of Internet shoppers.

Stockroom founder Joel Tucker began his fetish store — at the time called JT Toys — in 1988 as a student at Occidental College in Los Angeles, using his school's email account to distribute a small catalog of adult specialty products, later posting them on the Usenet bulletin board system. Following a few customer suggestions, Tucker created a text version of the catalog to send via email, and soon after it was posted at the alt.sex.bondage newsgroup. That's when Stockroom took off — almost.

"I started getting hundreds of emails right away," Tucker says, from people wanting a copy of his catalog.

Excited by what he calls a "secret jackpot," Tucker started sending out hundreds to potential customers and sat back, waiting for the orders — and the cash — to roll in.

"Nothing happened," Tucker says.

Tucker realized these potential customers were wary that he was a potential scam artist. No matter how eager these people were to purchase his fetish goods, they weren't going to send him their credit card information without knowing Tucker wasn't a crook.

Nine months, and a few successful sales, later, word had spread among the BDSM and bondage community that Tucker's company was legit. JT Toys had built a reputation and had earned the trust of fetish fans around the world.

"It's been a steady evolution since," Tucker says.

Stockroom first used simple e-commerce software for its sales program, and had special code written to create a faster, more reliable shopping cart, but Tucker found it lacked many of the features he wanted to have available to his customers and affiliates. He realized that if he wanted Stockroom to feature everything he was envisioning, he'd have to take care of it in-house.

The company now uses its own software, mostly custom-made, and has built its own affiliate system with reporting features, which alerts affiliates of their sales records. And when he guarantees his affiliates there's no shaving, they believe him — Stockroom is renowned for being an honest, trust-worthy company to do business with.

Stockroom is ever changing — and growing — with its acquisition of San Francisco-based latex couture design shop Syren in 2006 and its purchase this year of Stormy Leather. Tucker says acquiring Stormy increased his company from 45 employees to 60, and is now the No. 1 supplier for fetish giant Kink.com.