Managers and other high-level employees of Castle Megastore's 20 retail locations, gathered this week for a four-day learning experience that included a Vendor’s Expo.
“The event is for the people on the front end,” Castle Megastore’s Jasen Bartlett told XBIZ. “It involves a lot training, breakout meetings and lots of questions being asked. The Vendor’s Expo offered the opportunity for store managers and assistant mangers to meet with vendors and obtain product knowledge, as well as get a sneak peek at new products."
Now in its fifth year, Castle Megastore’s annual managers meetings are geared towards maximizing profits. This year, Castle Megastore’s Kylie Wilson and the company’s human resources director Adriana Rosales helmed the preparation and presentation of the event’s training material, Bartlett said.
CalExotics’ Al Bloom said that the company’s luxury line, Vanity by Jopen, has been receiving reports daily from retailers raving about its visually stimulating display featuring a digital screen with an animated presentation, and buzz surrounding the Vanity continued at the Castle Megastore event.
“At the Castle Vendor Expo I had the opportunity to meet with each store manager,” Bloom said. “From Arizona, to Oregon and Alaska, they all were thrilled with their sales, and the displays, which have only been in their stores for three weeks or less. Castle executives told me that Vanity has achieved sales comparable to other luxury brands that have been on sale for over a year or better in only weeks.”
Steve Sav, Pipedream Products' vice president of sales, said that Castle Megastore employees are exemplary.
"The managers at Castle Megastore's annual meeting are some of the best in the business," Sav said. "They are knowledgeable, easy to talk to and were well informed about the product even before we arrived."
Ruben Deitz, Pipedream Vice President added, "The Vendor Expo was great for managers to get a complete overview about our new releases for 2011 and additional training on current items they already stock. We were able to share our new Fetish Fantasy Extreme extension to the Fetish Fantasy Series and Mia Isabella's Big Secret Collection. Events like this are great for specialty product lines like these because pictures in a catalog or online just can't compete with demonstrating and educating customers in person. We thank Castle Megastore for including us in their expo and look forward to it again next year!"
Liberator’s Shaye Saldana told XBIZ that during the Vendor’s Expo, which was held yesterday, he met with all of Castle’s managers in groups of four to five for 20 minutes each.
“I think the goal of this was to better educate the managers on the strategic partnerships that Mark has created to increase sales and improve merchandising within the stores,” Saldana said. “All I got was compliments on my product knowledge and training based on the training video that Castle made of me and has their employees watch for regular training. Liberator sales for Castle have doubled from last year with the new boutique concept that has been implemented in the stores ... After the daylong event, there was a Christmas party, which was a lot of fun!”
Nasstoys’ Kathryn Hartman told XBIZ that while doing product training at the event, she learned just as much from Castle Megastore.
“The Castle managers were absolutely the best group I have ever done a presentation for,” Hartman said. “I have met many of the staff before and always have stopped by the stores while visiting our friend Mark Franks and the lovely Melissa Brewer [novelty buyer], so the presentation of new and amazing Nasstoys releases and holiday best sellers was a lot of fun because it was like showing toys to fun and very interested and knowledgeable friends. We even figured out how to use a new Nasstoys Double dong as a Shake Weight or Thighmaster! As usual, they taught me a few things because, after all, the folks in our biz who work the retail stores are our front lines and give us the most valuable feedback.”
Castle’s managers meeting wrapped with a holiday party last night, attended by up to 200 of the adult industry’s finest professionals.
“It was wonderful as usual to spend time with Rafi Mama [Megasol Group] and Solomon Levy [System Jo] and Lila from Stockroom and Tonya from Evolved, just to name a few, as the turnout was fantastic,” Hartman said. “I cannot say enough about how Mark Franks and his creative and professional team have turned around the store group over the past 15 years that I have had the pleasure of servicing this account for Nasstoys. May 2011 be an even better year for everyone in the Castle Megastore kingdom! The party was fantastic and a great time was had by all!”
Notable attendees of Castle Megastore Holiday Party also included XBIZ President Alec Helmy, Pipedream Products’ Nick Orlandino, Dreamgirl’s Christopher Scharff, Pulse Distribution’s Robert Plarski, Hott Products’ Chris Post, Evolved’s Greg Alves, The Screaming O’s Conde Aumann, Wicked Pictures’ Steve Orenstein, Digital Playground’s Peggy Mac and Doc Johnson’s Kristen Denton.
"Mark Franks and the entire Castle Megastore team did a tremendous job again this year and I look forward to another great year of working with them," Orlandino said.